Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

The Much Too Promised Land: America's Elusive Search for Arab-Israeli Peace

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

The Much Too Promised Land: America's Elusive Search for Arab-Israeli Peace

Article excerpt

The Much Too Promised Land: America's Elusive Search for Arab-Israeli Peace. By Aaron David Miller. New York: Bantam, 2008. 416 pp. $26 ($16, paper).

A key player on the U.S. "peace team" during three administrations, Miller is well-placed to compare and evaluate the different approaches, personalities, and outcomes of the efforts of these three U.S. administrations. The author adds to the flood of memoirs, often covering the same ground - the embrace of Palestinian victimization; surprise at Arafat's treachery; Jimmy Carter's doctored accounts. Ultimately, the main contribution of this book lies in its illumination of the perceptions and misperceptions emanating from Washington.

The most substantive sections cover the 1 989 to 1 992 period, which started and ended with U.S. pressure on Israel, though interrupted by the 1991 Kuwait war. In this phase, Secretary of State James Baker and his colleagues used the threat of blame for failure ("the dead cat on the doorstep" model) to press Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir for concessions. The attempt did little other than increase tensions between Washington and Jerusalem.

The collapse of the Soviet Union and the U.S. invasion of Iraq amplified Washington's power of persuasion - saying "no" to Washington became more costly. After months of pressure, Shamir, Syrian president Hafez al-Assad, and a thinly disguised Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) delegation agreed to the 1 991 Madrid conference. …

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