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About William J. Burns
William J. Burns is president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in 2014 after a thirty-three-year diplomatic career. He holds the highest rank in the Foreign Service, career ambassador, and is only the second serving career diplomat in history to become deputy secretary of state. Prior to his tenure as deputy secretary, Ambassador Burns served from 2008 to 2011 as undersecretary for political affairs. He was ambassador to Russia from 2005 to 2008, assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs from 2001 to 2005, and ambassador to Jordan from 1998 to 2001. Ambassador Burns earned a bachelor’s degree in history from La Salle University and master’s and doctoral degrees in international relations from Oxford University, where he studied as a Marshall Scholar. He and his wife, Lisa, have two daughters.
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Career diplomat William J. Burns draws on his treasure trove of newly declassified cables and memos to offer a rare peek at US diplomacy in action. He illuminates the back channels of his profession, and its value in a world that resembles neither the zerosum Cold War of his early career, nor the 'unipolar moment' of American primacy that followed. His dispatches from war-torn Chechnya and Qadhafi's camp in the Libyan desert, and his memos warning of the 'perfect storm' unleashed by the Iraq War, will profoundly reshape both our understanding of history and the policy debates of the future.
The Back Channel is an eloquent, deeply informed and impassioned argument for renewing diplomacy as the tool of first resort in American statecraft.