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Myths, Illusions, and Peace: Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East Hardcover – Bargain Price, June 11, 2009

3.9 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, June 11, 2009
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult (June 11, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670020893
  • ASIN: B002XULXP6
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,542,701 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
If you are interested in "Finding a new direction for America in the Middle East" (the sub-title of this book), you won't find it in this book. The so-called "new direction" is almost indistinguishable from the old direction, in the last years of the Bush Administration - which led to the present mess.

Dennis Ross and David Makovsky were both staff members of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, an offshoot of AIPAC (the America - Israel Public Affairs Committee) the very powerful pro-Israel lobbying group. Their book defines Middle East policy issues as supporters of Israel's policies would like to see them defined.

The book presents Middle East issues from an exclusively Jewish viewpoint. Nearly half of the book, up to page 123, mainly presents an extensive history of the US-Israel relationship from 1948 to the present, including detailed presentations of the views of Israel's supporters in the US government. In contrast, while three chapters (Chapters 7,8,9) are devoted to Iran, Ross and Makovsky make no attempt to study or describe the political history of Iran or its relationship with the US. Iran's `Islamist Revolution of 1979' which expelled the Shah of Iran, receives just that two-word description `Islamist Revolution' - with no attempt to explore or describe what forces were at work. The pivotal 1953 coup, engineered by the US Central Intelligence Agency, which overthrew Iran's government headed by Mohammed Mossadeq, is not even mentioned (read All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror by Stephen Kinzer). Politics in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon or Syria receive not a word.
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Format: Hardcover
The only chapters of this book that concern me are those the authors have allocated to the current Iranian regime. For one thing, I am so happy that Obama's attempt to legitimize the murdering regime of Iran have failed solely due to the recent uprising of the Iranian people. But these authors have me worried more because they are the men who will shape the Iran policy in the next few years. (Hopefully Obama will be out of office by 2012).

Okay here is my beef with the Iran related chapters:

1-The authors had me until they came to discuss the so-called Iranian Fax message on pages 188-189. The author implies that the United States spurned a legitimate Iranian offer to settle all debts, so to speak, by striking a "grand bargain" and this offer supposedly came in 2003 via a Swiss Diplomat named Tim Guldimann. The offer is often cited by the leftists as evidence that President Bush's administration recklessly flopped a legitimate opportunity to engage in meaningful dialog with Iran. But again, this is nonsense. As AEI's Iran expert Michael Rubin has explained (michaelrubindotcom) , the Guldimann memo was the work of a wishful thinking, freelancing, Western diplomat, and not a serious attempt by the Iranians to strike a deal. And guess who took that fax message to the US officials? A well-known Iranian regime agent named Trita Parsi whose organization is funded by the Iranian regime. So the authors lost credibility the moment they started discussing this fake grand bargain offer.

2- The authors want us to believe the Iranian regime is just like any other functioning government/state. The authors of this book fail to understand one thing: That the Iranian regime leadership/mullahs DO NOT care about the well-being of the Iranian people.
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Format: Hardcover
Why has the U.S. consistently failed to achieve peace in the Middle East? According to the authors, it is because we have repeatedly fallen for myths about the region. These include: 1)Iran's religious leadership is immune from diplomatic and economic pressures, 2)Israeli-Palestinian peace is key to solving all the Middle East problems, and 3)Regime change is prerequisite for peace and democracy.

The authors early on point out that Middle-East diplomacy must be addressed in the larger context of China, Russia (seeking a role as counterweight to the U.S.?, nervous about its own Muslim inhabitants), and Global Warming (the Middle East can undercut initiatives if they lower prices).

Clearly, the preeminent threat of our time is that radical Islamists may get their hands on a nuclear weapon. In addition, say the authors, it remains unlikely that Islamists extremists who embrace suicide bombing are deterrable. While perhaps true, downgrading the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from top priority in the context of terrorism seems extremely dangerous, given Bin Laden and others listing it as a prime grievance. On the other hand, the authors do make the case that this 60-year-old conflict is not the answer to every Mid-East problem - eg. the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), and Gulf War I and II had no connection to the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

"The main opponents of Arab-Israeli peace . . . primarily the Islamists" is a statement that suggests a serious bias on the author's part - no documentation was given. Though the book repeatedly slams Bush II policies in the area, this statement creates wonder that the authors would have done better. Further, at no point do they depict Israelis as a source of problems - even their continual building of settlements.
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