The Foreign Service Journal, May 2018

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | MAY 2018 77 can only wholeheartedly concur with Weiss’s blistering critique of the counterproductive overlap and competition among its various moving parts, particularly in the humanitarian aid/devel- opment areas. Weiss urges donors to insist not merely on “coor- dination,” which he aptly describes as a “vacuous recipe to leave bureaucratic things as they are,” but a thoroughgoing consolidation and centralization of “a system that has more in common with feudalism than with a modern organiza- tion.” While Weiss demonstrates impres- sive mastery of the human rights, humanitarian aid and development fronts, I would like to have seen this book delve deeper and more critically into peacekeeping and peacebuilding issues, perhaps providing more compar- ative analysis and lessons learned from the various peacekeeping operations. For instance, why was Timor a rela- tive success while other missions inter- minably founder? Also useful would have been more focus on the people- on-the-ground factor, more recognition of how, amid all these organizational failings, small numbers of dedicated talented individuals are achieving prog- ress or at least keeping missions afloat in the world’s worst places. Describing himself as one who prefers to be “an optimist who is sometimes wrong, rather than a pes- simist who is always right,” Weiss finds glimmers of hope for the U.N. in recent developments. In addition to the increased focus on peacebuild- ing, he cites UNWOMEN, a relatively new organization uniting previously competing elements, as evidence that the organization can consolidate and rationalize operations. He also sees the new emphasis on R2P (responsibility to protect) as reflecting increased willing- ness to override sovereignty when necessary to protect endangered civilians. In UNtold , a much slim- mer, less substantive volume, author Ian Williams is updating his UN for Beginners published in 1995. He attempts to cover much of the same ground as Weiss, with a similar theme (the U.N. is highly flawed, but we’d be worse off without it) but in a lighter, more entertaining, rambling way. UNtold may be suitable for those seeking a quick, intellectually undemanding overview, but is certainly no substitute for the much more rigor- ous, well-researched analysis of Weiss’s book. UNtold ’s overly simplistic and some- times over-the-top anti-Americanism may be off-putting to readers. That said, the book does provide some interest- ing anecdotes, historical curiosities and trivia tidbits for us U.N. fans, such as why American U.N. officials have to learn to write in British English (it’s a legacy of the League of Nations). Both books laud the 2017 selection of António Guterres as U.N. Secretary- General, seemingly a rare case of over- coming political obstacles to select the best available candidate for the job. Proponents of multilateralism can only hope that Weiss is correct in argu- ing that this new leadership, growing threats to the United Nation’s relevance and recognition of the “desperate need to reinvigorate and update rather than jettison the universal organization that was essential to the current operat- ing system” could “provide impetus for a long-postponed and desperately needed change in how the world does business.” W. Gary Gray served in the Foreign Service from 1985 to 2002, with assignments in Bucharest, Pretoria, Moscow, Maputo, Jakarta, Dili, Kuala Lumpur and Washing- ton, D.C. From 2002 to 2013 he held senior management positions in United Nations peacekeeping missions. The Democracy Debate Does Democracy Matter? The United States and Global Democracy Support Adrian Basora, Agnieszka Marczyk and Maia Otarashvili (eds), Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2017, $35, paperback, 222 pages. Reviewed By Brittany Foutz At a time when authoritarianism seems to be trending in many places around the world, there is a new focus on democracy—its characteristics, its prerequisites, its vulnerabilities and the best ways to promote its development and safeguard its foundations. U.S. democracy promotion has been a powerful force for positive change in the world, with democratic break- throughs, for example, in Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Ukraine. But as challenges to democracy arise, confidence in its future is being questioned. Does Democracy Matter? The United States and Global Democracy Support , edited by Ambassador Adrian Basora, Agnieszka Marczyk and Maia Otarashvili, was released in the midst of this debate. In this book 11 scholars and experts on democracy assess the state of democracy and its promotion, noting that much of the powerful democratiz-