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Five to Rule Them All: The UN Security Council and the Making of the Modern Worldby David L. Bosco
"This fine book blends insight into great-power politics with saucy anecdotes, including an account of the American-led sally to a famous New York City nightclub, Billy Rose's Diamond Horseshoe, designed to ease tensions during those 1944 negotiations. The only wish a reader might have is for more discussion of the current challenges that face the Security Council." Rahul Chandran, The Wilson Quarterly (Read the entire Wilson Quarterly review)
Synopses & Reviews
From the Berlin Airlift to the Iraq War, the UN Security Council has stood at the heart of global politics. Part public theater, part smoke-filled backroom, the Council has enjoyed notable successes and suffered ignominious failures, but it has always provided a space for the five great powers to sit down together.
Five to Rule Them All tells the inside story of this remarkable diplomatic creation. Drawing on extensive research, including dozens of interviews with serving and former ambassadors on the Council, the book chronicles political battles and personality clashes as it opens the closed doors of its meeting room. What emerges here is a revealing portrait of the most powerful diplomatic body in the world. When the five permanent members are united, David Bosco points out, the Council can wage war, impose blockades, redraw borders, unseat governments, and levy sanctions. There are almost no limits to its authority. Yet the Council exists in a world of realpolitik. Its members are, above all, powerful states with their own diverging interests. Time and again, the Council's performance has dashed the hope that its members would somehow work together to establish a more peaceful world. But if these lofty hopes have been unfulfilled, the Council has still served an invaluable purpose: to prevent conflict between the Great Powers. In this role, the Council has been an unheralded success. As Bosco reminds us, massacres in the Balkans and chaos in Iraq are human tragedies, but conflicts between the world's great powers in the nuclear age would be catastrophic.
In this lively, fast-moving, and often humorous narrative, Bosco illuminates the role of the Security Council in the postwar world, making a compelling case for the enduring importance of the five who rule them all.
"Bosco, former senior editor at Foreign Policy, examines the United Nation's global salience — from its roots in the League of Nations to its controversial decision to sanction military action against Saddam Hussein that nearly splintered the organization's collective political clout. Founded on the principle that a permanent Security Council comprising WWII's victors could and should preserve peace worldwide, the organization's constitution and relative importance has evolved with every major shift in international politics — European decolonization in Africa and Asia that resulted in dozens of new political entities, the ongoing Middle East conflict and the threat of terrorism. Bosco punctuates formal details of U.N. resolutions with balanced analysis and entertaining anecdotes about the personalities behind iconic historic events. He concludes with well-reasoned and plausible suggestions for how the organization can change to better reflect political realities, such as the introduction of a dedicated seat for the European Union, a regional organization that takes an increasingly unified position on security issues. (Sept.) " Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
David L. Bosco is Assistant Professor in the School of International Service, American University. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he is a former Senior Editor at Foreign Policy and has been a political analyst and journalist in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and deputy director of a joint United Nations-NATO project in Sarajevo. His writings have appeared in a variety of publications, including the Washington Post, Slate, the New York Times Book Review, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal-Europe, The American Prospect, and the American Scholar. He has provided commentary and analysis for CNN, National Public Radio, Voice of America, and other outlets.
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