“A persuasive but painful solution for dealing with the mess in the Middle East.” –Kirkus
The greatest danger to America’s peace and prosperity, notes leading Middle East policy analyst Kenneth M. Pollack, lies in the political repression, economic stagnation, and cultural conflict running rampant in Arab and Muslim nations. By inflaming political unrest and empowering terrorists, these forces pose a direct threat to America’s economy and national security. The impulse for America might be to turn its back on the Middle East in frustration over the George W. Bush administration’s mishandling of the Iraq War and other engagements with Arab and Muslim countries. But such a move, Pollack asserts, will only exacerbate problems. He counters with the idea that we must continue to make the Middle East a priority in our policy, but in a humbler, more humane, more realistic, and more cohesive way.
Pollack argues that Washington’s greatest sin in its relations with the Middle East has been its persistent unwillingness to make the sustained and patient effort needed to help the people of the Middle East overcome the crippling societal problems facing their governments and societies. As a result, the United States has never had a workable comprehensive policy in the region, just a skein of half-measures intended either to avoid entanglement or to contain the influence of the Soviet Union.
Beyond identifying the stagnation of civic life in Arab and Muslim states and the cumulative effect of our misguided policies, Pollack offers a long-term strategy to ameliorate the political, economic, and social problems that underlie the region’s many crises. Through his suggested policies, America can engage directly with the governments of the Middle East and indirectly with its people by means of cultural exchange, commerce, and other “soft” approaches. He carefully examines each of the region’s most contested areas, including Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Lebanon, as well as the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and explains how the United States can address each through mutually reinforcing policies.
At a time when the nation will be facing critical decisions about our continued presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, A Path Out of the Desert is guaranteed to stimulate debate about America’s humanitarian, diplomatic, and military involvement in the Middle East.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: A Path Out of the Desert|
|Release Date: 07-15-2008|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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A Path Out of the Desert
America’s Interests in the Middle East
Many americans have only a vague sense of their country’s interests in the Middle East. Some on all parts of the political spectrum believe our engagement in the region brings only trouble and that we should disengage as much as possible. Many who do support American engagement in the region do so without ever having thought through why. Still others overstate American interests, assuming that nothing that happens in the Middle East is unrelated to the well-being of the United States. In arguing for a new, activist grand strategy toward the Middle East (albeit one not quite so activist as the second Bush administration’s), it is incumbent upon me to demonstrate why it is important that we should do so, and that means explaining specifically why and in what ways the region matters to the United States.
Along the same lines, it is impossible to devise a clear strategy without an equally clear understanding of that strategy’s purpose. As the old expression has it, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” Its converse is also true: picking the right road requires you to know where you are going. Indeed, in the past, America’s approach toward the Middle East and other countries or parts of the world has gone astray precisely because we did not have a clear sense of our own interests. In every instance where that was the case, the result was a bad one—ranging from mere missed opportunities to outright disasters. Thus it is important to articulate America’s interests in the Middle East to have a clear sense of what we should be