Friday, July 8, 2016

State Department Secrets [book review]

Nicholas M. Gallagher, Wall Street Journal

When it comes to Hillary Clinton and the sycophancy of her ‘inner circle acolytes,’ the otherwise diplomatic author doesn’t hold back.

Much of the book consists of captivating descriptions of U.S. diplomats dealing with crises overseas, traveling to exotic locations, meeting with dubious characters and even tracking endangered wildlife. The author sees herself as the voice of the underappreciated “practitioner” (yes, she uses that word) at State, issuing a cry for “the foreign policy establishment [to] include embassy voices in the decision-making process.” This can go too far: Sometimes the grubby politicians really do have a better sense of what the public can bear to support. We cannot, for instance, abandon policies the public feels to be vital to national security, such as drone warfare, just because they make public diplomacy more difficult. But it would be a foolish person who made policy without considering what the diplomats on the ground see. The cables—and this book—show how insightful they can be. ...

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