In his new book, “The Back Channel,” William J. Burns, a career diplomat and foreign-service officer, makes the case for American diplomacy in a very undiplomatic age. Burns, who served in both Republican and Democratic administrations for three decades, notably as President George W. Bush’s Ambassador to Russia between 2005 and 2008, narrates America’s post-Cold War foreign policy through the lens of his dealings with dictators, Secretaries of State, and Presidents, from George H. W. Bush to Barack Obama. The spectre of the current President looms over the book: Burns sees Donald Trump as a force that is destroying American credibility, and diminishing the country’s ability to function effectively in the world...

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This interview was originally published in the New Yorker.