What the U.S. Can and Can't Do in the Middle East

Myths,  Illusions and  Peace:  Finding  a  New  Direction  for  America  in  the  Middle  East
by  Dennis  Ross  and  David  Makovsky
Viking,  368 pp.,  $27.95

The Obama administration’s lack of success in reviving negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians highlights a paradox. The US has a great deal of power in the Middle East, but it is often practically impotent.

How can this be?

The scope of American power, in the Middle East or anywhere else, depends on circumstances and local conditions. Yet Washington policy wonks all too often tend to overlook this uncomfortable fact, viewing situations exclusively from inside the Beltway.

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About the Author

Shlomo Avineri is Professor of Political Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and served as Director-General of Israel’s Foreign Ministry in the first government of Yitzhak Rabin. His most recent book is Herzl, an intellectual biography (in Hebrew) of the founder of modern Zionism.


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