Academic journal article Military Review

QUICKSAND: America's Pursuit of Power in the Middle East

Academic journal article Military Review

QUICKSAND: America's Pursuit of Power in the Middle East

Article excerpt

QUICKSAND: America's Pursuit of Power in the Middle East, Geoffrey Wawro, The Penguin Press, New York, 20 1 0, 720 pages, $37.95.

Geoffrey Wawro's Quicksand: America's Pursuit of Power in the Middle East attempts to be a single history of America's involvement in the Middle East, beginning in the late 19th century. It is an excellent first attempt to synthesize this entire era. Previous literature has examined specific time periods, specific geographical areas, or specific topics. This is not to say that Quicksand is comprehensive; this is no social or cultural history but rather one limited to politics and foreign affairs, and its arrangement is chronological, not topical. Further, the perspective is American more than, say, Egyptian or Iraqi or Israeli.

The book provides a clear exposition of the various threads of U.S. involvement, working through material from early Zionism and Wilsonian idealism to the adventures of Dick Cheney and George Bush in pursuit of moral diplomacy, regime change, and oil. Along the way, presidents and statesmen do stupid things for reasons that may or may not stand careful scrutiny, and occasionally there is a hero or a heroic moment. Mostly, those who were once heroes are shown to be far from their mythological stature. …

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