The Middle East and the United States: A Historical and Political Reassessment

The Middle East and the United States: A Historical and Political Reassessment

The Middle East and the United States: A Historical and Political Reassessment

The Middle East and the United States: A Historical and Political Reassessment

Synopsis

The important relationship between the United States and the Middle East has historically been examined from a 1-dimensional perspective. This volume seeks to provide a cross-cultural reassessment of American policy toward the region.

Excerpt

Typically, a lot happens in the Middle East in the span of a few years. This has definitely been the case since the first edition of this book was published in 1996; indeed, the first edition was barely able to mention the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in November 1995 before the final draft went off to the publisher. As such, we could only minimally speculate about the repercussions of this tragic event, expressing a certain amount of foreboding for the future of the Arab-Israeli peace process that dampened what had generally been cautious optimism.

Since then we have observed, inter alia, the following: the Hamas bombings in Israel in early 1996; the shutdown of the Israeli-Syrian negotiations; Israel's Operation Grapes of Wrath in Lebanon in April 1996 to root out and punish Hizbullah for lobbing rockets into northern Israel; Likud Party's Benjamin Netanyahu becoming prime minister in the May 1996 election in Israel; the interminable delays and mutual recriminations in the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations over implementation of the Oslo accords, with the subsequent question of what the U.S. role should be to break the deadlock; Saddam Hussein's continued tussles with the United States over the accessibility (or lack thereof) of sites in Iraq to United Nations inspections teams, particularly that which occurred in October 1997 through February 1998, when the Clinton administration seemed perched to militarily intervene in Iraq to enforce compliance with the UN amid growing estrangement from Washington by its erstwhile Gulf war allies in the Middle East and in Europe (and the realization, albeit belated, in Washington of the inextricable link between the Gulf and Arab- Israeli arenas); intensified butchery in Algeria between extremist Islamist groups and what they believe to be an illegitimate government; and continuing economic problems in most countries in the region facing the dilemma of the generally accepted necessity to shake off legacies of public sector domination, an approach, however, that also generates a host of religio- or sociopolitical reactions that could threaten the ruling regimes.

Those contributors who in the first edition wrote on current and/or recent issues have updated their chapters by commenting on what has transpired over the last three years in relation to their topics. The more historically oriented chapters are es-

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