How did it come to pass that, not so long after 9/11 brought the free world to our side, U.S. foreign policy is in a shambles? In this thought-provoking book, the renowned peace negotiator Dennis Ross argues that the Bush administration's problems stem from its inability to use the tools of statecraft—diplomatic, economic, and military—to advance our interests.
Statecraft is as old as politics: Plato wrote about it, Machiavelli practiced it. After the demise of Communism, some predicted that statecraft would wither away. But Ross explains that in the globalized world—with its fluid borders, terrorist networks, and violent unrest—statecraft is necessary simply to keep the peace.
In illuminating chapters, he outlines how statecraft helped shape a new world order after 1989. He shows how the failure of statecraft in Iraq and the Middle East has undercut the United States internationally, and makes clear that only statecraft can check the rise of China and the danger of a nuclear Iran. He draws on his expertise to reveal the art of successful negotiation. And he shows how the next president could resolve today's problems and define a realistic, ambitious foreign policy.
Statecraft is essential reading for anyone interested in foreign policy—or concerned about America's place in the world.
Ross, the Clinton administration's Middle East envoy (The Missing Peace) makes the seemingly dreary, opaque processes of international diplomacy as coherent, absorbing and occasionally dramatic as a procedural thriller. He conceives of statecraft as a subtle orchestration of foreign policy "assets," including intelligence and analysis, diplomacy, sanctions, economic aid and military pressure. Most of all, it requires negotiations: the book's middle section is a lengthy tutorial on the nuts and bolts of epic negotiating, Ross's forte, complete with tips on how and when to stage angry outbursts at the conference table. The author illustrates with case studies of foreign policy triumphs and disasters (many of which he had a hand in), from German reunification to the war in Iraq. The book is an avowedly "neo-liberal" rebuke of Bush's unilateralist, "faith-based" foreign policy blundering. Indeed, with its call for virtuoso state craftsmanship and its detailed proposals on everything from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or Iranian nuclear ambitions to relations with China, it could well be Ross's application for the 2009 secretary of state opening. If so, it's an impressive one, full of canny, judicious insights into the making of foreign policy.