Over the course of more than three decades as an American diplomat, William J. Burns played a central role in the most consequential diplomatic episodes of his time—from the bloodless end of the Cold War to the collapse of relations with Putin’s Russia, from post–9/11 tumult in the Middle East to the secret nuclear talks with Iran. Burns draws on a treasure trove of newly declassified cables and memos to offer rare insight into US diplomacy in action. He illuminates the back channels of his profession, and its value in a world that resembles neither the zero-sum Cold War of his early career, nor the ‘unipolar moment’ of American primacy that followed.
Ambassador William J Burns is author of ‘The Back Channel: A Memoir of American Diplomacy and the Case for its Renewal’ and president of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace (@CarnegieEndow). He retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in 2014 after a thirty-three year diplomatic career.
Christopher Coker is Professor of International Relations at the LSE and Director of IDEAS, LSE’s foreign policy think tank.
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