The Foreign Service Journal, November 2020

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | NOVEMBER 2020 39 through two Persian Gulf wars, and ends with the U.S. with- drawal of combat troops from Iraq in 2011. As former FSO Harry Kopp points out in his review of the book ( FSJ , September), “David Dunford’s bottom-up perspective is unique.” Ambassador Dunford aimed, as he states in the introduction, to give readers the practitioner’s perspective. Drawing on his own Foreign Service career for examples, Dunford argues that the reason we find ourselves bogged down in “forever wars” in the Middle East is directly related to the decline in reliance on our diplomatic skills. He chronicles the frustrations of working with bureaucrats and politicians who don’t understand the world and are unwilling to listen to those who do. But he also makes clear that the decline of our diplomatic capability began well before the election of Donald Trump. He recommends that instead of trying to make soldiers into diplomats and diplomats into soldiers, we invest in a truly professional diplomatic service. David J. Dunford spent three years as the U.S. ambassador to Oman and four years, including during the 1990–1991 Persian Gulf War, as the deputy chief of mission to Saudi Arabia. Now a member of the governing board of the University of Arizona’s Center for Middle East Studies, Ambassador Dunford is also the co-author of Talking to Strangers: The Struggle to Rebuild Iraq’s Foreign Ministry (Southwestern College Academic Press, 2013). Germany from Peace to Power? Can Germany Lead in Europe Without Dominating? James D. Bindenagel, V&R Unipress, 2020, $44/hardcover, 223 pages. Can a peaceful and prospering Ger- many lead the continent of Europe toward greater unity without dominat- ing? Ambassador James Bindenagel, a former deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in East Germany, seeks to answer this question. In this book he discusses Germany’s strategic tradition of “reluctant leadership”—and how this has shaped its conduct of diplomacy—and surveys the country’s role within the budding era of great power competition. The responsibility to shape the debate on the European community’s response to threats from Russia and China is among several strategic challenges facing German foreign policy. But to shape such a debate, he argues, Germany must also reinforce and deepen its trans-Atlantic relationship with the United States and elevate its role as a preferred security partner to allies. James D. Bindenagel, a retired FSO, was deputy chief of mission (U.S. Minister) at the U.S. embassy to the German Democratic Republic in 1989-1990 and later served as director of the Office of Central European Affairs at the State Department, deputy chief of mission and chargé in Bonn and as a senior fellow at the GermanMarshall Fund of the United States. Since 2014 he has been the Henry Kissinger Professor and director of the Center for International Security and Governance at the University of Bonn. Vision or Mirage: Saudi Arabia at the Crossroads David Rundell, I.B. Tauris, 2020, $27/hardcover, e-book available, 336 pages. One of America’s foremost experts on Saudi Arabia, David Rundell explains how the country has enjoyed so many years of stability, how it has become less stable today and what to look for in the future. Vision or Mirage is based on Rundell’s close contacts and intimate knowledge of the country where he served for 15 years, working at the embassy in Riyadh and at the consulates in Jeddah and Dhahran. In Saudi Arabia, he served as chargé d’affaires, deputy chief of mission, political counselor, economic counselor, commercial counselor and commercial attaché. Saudi Arabia is undergoing extraordinary change, according to Rundell. Once known for its lack of tolerance, the country is implementing major economic and social reforms, as Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman tries to promote a more tolerant Islam. But the book questions whether this is “merely a mirage likely to dissolve into Iranian-style revolution.” The book has garnered wide praise, including from former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who states: “At once modern and theocratic, reserved and assertive, Saudi Arabia’s paradoxes defy easy comprehension. For those seeking to understand the Kingdom and its role in the world, longtime observer David Rundell has distilled his experience into a clear-eyed and illuminating explanation.” David Rundell served as an American diplomat for 30 years in Washington, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates. He lives in Dubai and London, travels regularly to Saudi Arabia and is a partner in the consulting firm Arabia Analytica.