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The Arab Center: The Promise of Moderation Hardcover – June 28, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


“To be constructive, rational, and moderate in the Arab Middle East may be the most dangerous approach of all; Muasher therefore exhibits courage as well as intellectual energy applied toward making a positive
contribution.”—­Charles Hill, Diplomat-in-Residence, Yale University
(Charles Hill)

“Must reading for those who recognize that a comprehensive strategic approach to the Middle East is indispensable to a more stable and secure U.S. and world.”—Mara Rudman, former Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and Chief of Staff for the National Security Council

(Mara Rudman)

"Few Arab thinkers are better positioned to discuss the challenge to moderation in the Middle East, and I hope that Marwan Muasher's distinguished voice of reason and pragmatism will be heard well beyond our region."—His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan

(His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan)

“This book is a must read to understand how to address the challenges facing the Middle East today.”—President Bill Clinton
(President Bill Clinton)

"Marwan Muasher is not just a witness, but also an active participant and a shaper of realities in the Middle East. His book is indeed a valuable and unique contribution to the field with insights, inside information, and a superb grasp of history in the making. Such an authentic Arab voice from within, writing in English to engage a Western readership, is an opportunity not to be missed.  I have developed the greatest respect for his integrity, courage, and humanity—precisely those qualities that make his book exceptional."—Hanan Ashrawi
(Hanan Ashrawi)

"A fascinating inside look by a 50-year-old Arab statesman, the first to write a book in English, who was privy to all the secret machinations since the age of 30."—Arnaud de Borchgrave, UPI Editor-at-Large
(Arnaud de Borchgrave UPI 2008-05-29)

"Excellent."—Al Kamen, Washington Post
(Al Kamen Washington Post 2008-05-14)

"[This is] one of the most important books on the Middle East, and is required reading for everyone interested in finding solutions to the many problems the region faces today. . . .Arab leaders, and America's next president, would do well to heed the experiences and advice of an Arab statesman."—Scott MacLeod,Time's Middle East Blog by Cairo Bureau Chief
(Scott MacLeod Time 2008-05-29)

"Muasher's book raises what may be the most damning criticism of the Bush administration's Middle East policy — that it has unwittingly undercut the very people the United States wanted most to help."—David Ignatius, Washington Post
(David Ignatius Washington Post 2008-05-15)

"A gem of memoir as history, The Arab Center traces the torturous negotiations among Israel, the Palestinians, the Arab states, and the outside world from 1991 to 2004, with well-chosen documents appended."—L. Carl Brown, Foreign Affairs
(L. Carl Brown Foreign Affairs 2008-08-28)

". . . One of [The Arab Center's] important contributions . . . is to question the meaning of an Arab 'moderate' and the selective application of moderation to a single issue—the pursuit of a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. . . ."—Roula Khalaf, Financial Times
(Roula Khalaf Financial Times 2008-07-07)

"The Arab Center . . . is worth reading for both the valor and the failures it describes. . . . It has the credibility, factual specificity and reflective, often self-critical, analysis that official government statements and authorized histories usually lack."—Rami G. Khouri, Middle East Times
(Rami G. Khouri Middle East Times 2008-09-16)

"In this painstakingly fair-minded and sensible memoir [Muasher] tries to show why there is still no solution to the Palestinian-Israeli imbroglio. . . . The next American president would do well to peruse Mr. Muasher's offering."—The Economist
(The Economist 2008-08-21)

"The Arab Center is in part a political memoir, in part an agenda for a solution to today's eight-year stagnation of the Arab-Israeli peace process. . . . Muasher makes a strenuous call for US reinvestment in the peace process. Already blueprints are in place, he feels and time is running out."—Colin Thubron, New York Review of Books
(Colin Thubron New York Review of Books 2008-10-20)

About the Author

Marwan Muasher has held many high-level positions within the government of Jordan, including Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Ambassador to the United States, and first Jordanian Ambassador to Israel.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First Edition, 1st Printing edition (June 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300123000
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300123005
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,648,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Susan Duncan on May 31, 2008
Format: Hardcover
For those of us who follow Arab politics closely, I found that this book has many new things to say. Marwan Muasher has been privy to three unique situations. (A) He was the first Jordanian Ambassador to Israel. (B) He was one among very few to be around the late King Hussein during the last few weeks of his life (intrigues over the succession issue). (C) He is intimately familiar with details of the many peace process attempts with Israel.
More like a personal diary, it is full anecdotes that show the human side of his time with King Hussein and as ambassador. It is an easy read and has good insights into the psyche of the Arab and the Israeli political players.
The last part of the book also has some interesting things to say. It is a candid non apologetic exposé on reform in the Arab world--not academic but fairly analytical. He talks about his experience (and frustrations) during the formulation of a document and roadmap for reform in Jordan--liberalization of press, democratization of the election process, curbing nepotism, the institutionalization of a merit based public sector, gender and economic parity--and the challenges of this process. This document was presented as the National Agenda in 2005, and to date, that is what it remains, an agenda. Some themes of discussion in this part of the book are the resistance of an old social guard to any change, the dynamics of the political/economic elites in the Arab world and a view on the political role of the different religious movements in the region. A must book to have.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Sam Clif on May 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
A reference of authority on Middle East Politics, terrorism, and hope through modernization.

This book is by far the best of what has been written about Modern Middle East Politics and current affairs. It takes the reader through a journey of the most important political events in the Middle East and the Arab world that affected the local scene and the international community in the past decade and a half, including the peace process, global terrorism, and political reform. Skillfully, Muasher links the current state of affairs with the cultural, religious, and historical dimensions of the region and the people, providing a thorough understanding of the roots and causes of local politics and its influence on global affairs.

Furthermore, the author's vast experience with the peace process as the first ambassador of Jordan to Israel, the ambassador of his country to the US, and Jordan's Foreign Minister, together with his leadership role in the political, economic and social reform efforts in the Arab world provide a unique internal perspective on the future of the Middle East. Muasher provides valuable insights on the ongoing struggle between the traditional sociopolitical forces and the progressive/moderate camp and its effect on democratic reform,international politics, and the relationship of the Arab world with the West.

The book is an easy read and proficiently simplifies to the reader very complicated cultural, historic, and religious issues and presents them in a very informative way.

Muasher represent a breath of a fresh air in the Middle East Politics. This is a MUST READ BOOK.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By lecteur assidu on October 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The Arab Center: The Promise of Moderation
This is probably the most comprehensive and objective approach to the Middle-East situation.
The author - Dr. Marvan Muasher - has been in a unique position to study the peace process between Palestine and Israel: as Jordan Foreign Minister, a political position, but also as Jordan Ambassador to Israel, a diplomatic position, his experience is diverse and well informed, taking the Israeli views into consideration as well as his own Arab understanding of the many facets of this long-lasting crisis.
The language is clear and - as a former Jordan Ambassador to the US - Dr. Muasher's presentation is intended to be easily understood by American readers, scholars, students or even uninformed members of the civil society at large.
Highly recommended to anyone interested in the Middle-East Peace process.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Marwan Muashar's credentials include having served as a negotiator in the Arab-Israeli peace process, 10 months as the first Jordanian ambassador to Israel which lead to stint as the ambassador to US and then Jordanian Foreign Minister and his involvement in the Saudi Peace Initiatives. As such this diplomatic autobiography fascinates, as these things do, in what is said, how it is said, what is not said and how it is omitted. As such one can be gladdened by Muashar's hopes, enriched by comprehending his viewpoint, and but also frustrating at times given that he knows (and we must understand) that he lives in a society where every word and nuance must be carefully phrased and guarded.

In chapter 2 he misses or glosses over a number of important events, the assassination of King Abdullah I by agents of the Mufti, Iraqi coupe of 1958 where the US sent troops and material to shore up King Hussein, sending them through Israel which was happy to cooperate as the Saudis had refused the use of their bases and airspace, the events of Black September where Arafat attempted a coup in Jordan and the King responded by killing some 10-20,000 Palestinian supporters and Jordan's rejection of the Allon plan, not in favour of Palestinian control, but because Hussein wanted to keep the territory to himself... to mention just a few. However one appreciates Muashar's forthrightness (pp26) where he outlines the two Jordanian schools of thought at the time. One group believed that creating a Palestinian state would enhance Jordanian security as it would kill the idea of Jordan as an alternative Palestine. The other feared that a Palestinian state that was too weak would "turn east" to solve its problems, most likely by attacking Jordan.
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