Friday, September 3, 2010

New E-book by Mitchell Reiss Explores When and How to Talk to Terrorists

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A new book by Washington College president Mitchell B. Reiss has answers for two of the most pressing questions facing America’s leaders today: Should we ever talk to terrorists? And if we do, how should we conduct the negotiations in order to achieve our goals?

In Negotiating with Evil: When to Talk to Terrorists,” to be released September 7 as an original e-book by Open Road Integrated Media, Reiss draws in part on his own experiences as a high-level negotiator in two diplomatic hot spots: Northern Ireland and North Korea. He also shares lessons from dozens of other major players in the realms of foreign policy and terrorism, including General David Petraeus, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, former leaders of the Basque terrorist group ETA, and the Director General of the British intelligence agency MI5.

“Over the past three years, I’ve traveled around the world interviewing prime ministers, generals, intelligence officers and former terrorists,” says Reiss, the scholar and diplomat who took office as President of Washington College on July 1 of this year. “My goal has been to explore why and when governments have decided to talk to terrorist groups, understand the mistakes they’ve made and reveal the victories they’ve achieved.”

In addition to adding insights on an especially timely topic, Reiss’s book is making news with its format. Negotiating with Evil will be the first “E-Riginal” issued by Open Road, a new digital publishing group founded by former HarperCollins executive Jane Friedman and movie producer Jeffrey Sharp (Boys Don’t Cry and You Can Count on Me). It will forge new ground as a book that will come out electronically, to be downloaded onto iPads, Kindles and other e-readers, and in print.

Reiss chose to publish with Open Road because of its trailblazing nature. “Digital publishing is the way of the future,” he says. “Working with Open Road brings three immediate advantages: the book gets out very quickly, it's far less expensive than a traditional book, and it’s a great way to reach a global audience.”

Negotiating with Evil looks at the complex political, military and ethical choices of five governments, gauges how they’ve fared and provides guidelines for the future. “These lessons are invaluable as America and other democracies will increasingly be confronted with similar choices: when to settle differences with terrorist groups by fighting or by talking,” says Reiss.

Senator John McCain praises Negotiating with Evil as “deeply relevant” and “required reading" for informed citizens and senior policymakers alike. "Peace is not made between friends,” says McCain. “It is made between enemies. How political leaders start talking with groups or governments that are fighting and killing their citizens, and ultimately agree to end their conflicts, is one of the most difficult, most important and least understood challenges facing nations across the world. Mitchell Reiss has done a great service by drawing out the lessons of past efforts by governments to make peace with their enemies—from Northern Ireland to Sri Lanka to Al Anbar, Iraq.”

Journalist and historian Walter Isaacson also recommends the book. “The distinguished diplomat and scholar Mitchell Reiss takes on one of the most important questions of our messy international age, how to deal with terrorists, and he answers it through a series of fascinating case studies,” says Isaacson. “It’s both an important study and also a compelling set of historical narratives.”

Mitchell Reiss brought decades of experience in international affairs to the task of writing the book. He is internationally recognized for his negotiating skills during the Northern Ireland peace process and the North Korean nuclear crisis. Prior to assuming the presidency of Washington College, he was Diplomat-in-Residence at the College of William & Mary, where he also taught law and government and served as Vice Provost for International Affairs and Director of the Wendy and Emery Reves Center for International Studies.

From 2003 to 2005, Reiss served as Director of the Office of Policy Planning at the U.S. State Department, where he provided Secretary Colin L. Powell with independent strategic advice and policy recommendations. From December 2004 through February 2007, he was the President's Special Envoy for the Northern Ireland Peace Process with the rank of Ambassador. The historic progress made towards ending “the Troubles” earned him the State Department's Foreign Affairs Award for Public Service.

In 1999, prior to joining William & Mary, Reiss helped manage the start-up and operations of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), a multinational organization designed to deliver $6 billion of energy (500,000 tons of heavy fuel oil/year and two 1,000 MW nuclear power stations) to North Korea. He led KEDO's negotiations with the North Koreans and served as its first General Counsel.

Reiss was a Guest Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, where he started its nonproliferation and counter-proliferation programs. He also has practiced corporate and banking law at Covington & Burling and, in 1988-89, served as Special Assistant to the National Security Advisor while a White House Fellow. He holds a law degree from Columbia Law School, a D.Phil. from Oxford University, a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy and a B.A. from Williams College. He has written two previous books on international security—Bridled Ambition: Why Countries Constrain Their Nuclear Capabilities, and Without the Bomb: The Politics of Nuclear Nonproliferation—contributed to 18 other books, and published more than 80 articles and reviews.

Beginning Tuesday, September 7, Negotiating with Evil can be ordered from

Related links:
Washington College introduces Mitchell Reiss:
Mitchell Reiss Author Page:
Negotiating with Evil fan page:

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