From Publishers Weekly
Perry (A Fire of Zion
) offers a stylistically fascinating history of post 9/11 American intervention in the Middle East that unearths the secret meetings between U.S. Armed Forces and insurgents and terrorist organizations. Perry describes the excruciating process led by dedicated American and Iraqi officials to open lines of communication between the American military and Iraqi insurgents, a decision born out of the painful realization that America's leadership had miscast the enemy in Iraq and that what was lacking was not more troops to kill terrorists [but] marines to talk to them. Perry reassesses conventional wisdom regarding Israel, Hamas, and Hezbollah and points out the essential differences between the two nationalist organizations and al-Qaeda, their trans-national nihilistic counterpart, calling into question the American and Israeli tendency to conflate all Islamic political movements as implacable enemies with nothing to say. In the penultimate chapter, Perry weaves a lyrical narrative of memories and impressions from 20 years spent in and out of the Middle East. He contributes a worthy commentary on contemporary Middle Eastern history and a valuable argument for communication between America and her enemies. (Feb.)
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In the summer of 2004, anxious to avoid another Fallujah fiasco, officers of the Third Civil Affairs Group, First Marine Expeditionary Force, put together a plan to cool tensions in al-Anbar province by jump-starting the region’s economic development. It was a simple plan: Sunni leaders from al-Anbar would be introduced to businesspeople and agriculturalists from outside Iraq; the soft power of capitalism would do its work, and block-by-block military maneuvers would be unnecessary. To be successful, however, the plan required that a small group of high-ranking marines cut a deal with leaders of the Iraqi insurgency—a clear contravention of the Bush administration’s stated opposition to talking to terrorists. Examining missed opportunities in al-Anbar as well as certain other instances in which the U.S. has pursued covert diplomatic engagement with foes in the Middle East, this book tells an all-too-familiar story about political territoriality and the disconnect between policy makers and the personnel on the ground. The solution, urges Perry, is a rejection of unhelpful rhetoric and a recognition that pragmatism has its place in defusing terror. --Brendan Driscoll