Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Doomed to Succeed: The U.S.-Israel Relationship from Truman to Obama

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Doomed to Succeed: The U.S.-Israel Relationship from Truman to Obama

Article excerpt

Brief Reviews, Fall 2016 Doomed to Succeed: The U.S.-Israel Relationship from Truman to Obama. By Dennis Ross. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016. 512 pp. $30 ($17, paper).

In Doomed to Succeed, Ross, a diplomat and advisor who served five U.S. presidents, documents the history of the mostly misguided U.S. peace efforts in the Middle East dating back to Franklin Roosevelt. While the early sections are a rehash of well-known facts, the recap is needed to reinforce Ross's thesis that misguided Arabists, who view Israel as a major irritant in relations with the Arab world, have continually and adversely influenced U.S. policy in the region.

Readers familiar with the history of U.S.-Israel relations may want to jump directly to the chapters starting with the Reagan administration when Ross became personally involved in policy-making. His eyewitness account of decision-making is insightful and reveals the structural, personal, and ideological reasons why the relationship with Israel is close but often turbulent.

Ronald Reagan, for example, despite being revered as one of Israel's best White House friends, could be the most punitive president when Israel angered him. George H.W. Bush's attitudes as vice president foreshadowed his animus toward Israel. Obama was angered by Netanyahu's declaration, prior to his reelection as prime minister, that he would never accept a Palestinian state; Obama considered other comments to be anti-democratic, prompting the president to warn that he would "reevaluate" policy toward Israel. …

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