Academic journal article Military Review

Beyond War: Reimagining American Influence in a New Middle East

Academic journal article Military Review

Beyond War: Reimagining American Influence in a New Middle East

Article excerpt

BEYOND WAR: Reimagining American Influence in a New Middle East

David Rohde, Viking, New York, 2013, 213 pages

In Beyond War, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Rohde critiques American nonmilitary strategies during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in countries affected by the Arab Spring, positing solutions for future American engagement in the Middle East. The author begins by highlighting American strategic failures in Iraq and Afghanistan that indicate a lack of long-term thinking and inadequate support to nonmilitary efforts. A thread Rohde begins in his discussion of Iraq and Afghanistan and picks up with relish when continuing on to discuss American policy in Pakistan, Turkey, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt is an American tendency to give aid and fund projects receiving countries did not request and cannot sustain.

One dismaying consequence of this is the United States often spends vast amounts of money and yet is viewed negatively by local recipients. The author details problems inherent in Washington that prevent successful foreign aid policy, including a culture of risk aversion and non-collaboration, which leads to fractious policy and serious understaffing.

Based on abundant examples, Rohde posits American aid should fit into the receiving country's plan and vision, and should depend on two policy requirements. First, the United States must listen to that country's concerns and desires. Second, it should provide generous, tailored, appealing incentives to address those issues, along the lines of the European Union's accession program, rather than mandated spending, spending attached to a timeline, or aid with conditions attached. …

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