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“The Last American Diplomat: John D. Negroponte and the Changing Face of American Diplomacy” by George W. Liebmann

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John D. Negroponte and the Changing Face of American Diplomacy

By George W. Liebmann I.B. Tauris. 368 pp. $99

As the author notes, his subject, John D. Negroponte, was a Democrat early in his career, a Republican at the end of it, but “no partisan.” As ambassador to countries as disparate as the Philippines and Iraq, as U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, as director of national intelligence under President George W. Bush, the long-serving Negroponte achieved a curriculum vitae that few American diplomats can match.

His last title was deputy secretary of state, in which capacity he found himself frequently at odds with the administration for which he worked — that of the second President Bush. “It is hard, without caricature,” lawyer and historian George W. Liebmann writes, “to describe the difficulties under which Negroponte labored for the last eight years of his tenure, particularly for the first six of them.”

Liebmann calls Negroponte “the last American diplomat” in part because — against the modern tendency to take absolutist positions and disregard the views of allies — “he exemplified the diplomat’s code, founded at its best on recognition that other people have interests and ambitions, and that flexibility in the conduct of personal and international relations is a good in itself.”

— Dennis Drabelle

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