The New Middle East

In This Review

The New Middle East

By Shimon Peres with Arye Naor
Henry Holt and Company, 1993
224 pp. $25.00

Israel's Foreign Minister is not short on the vision thing, as this book amply demonstrates. Gazing optimistically into the future, he foresees a Middle East at peace, with regional economic cooperation expanding, democracy taking hold and a new coalition of right-minded countries facing up to the obscurantist forces of Khomeinism. Along the way we hear about the Asian model of national politics, which is going to dominate the coming era. It will be characterized by using knowledge for profit, and military power will be overtaken by economic prowess. And the Red Sea-Dead Sea Canal, costing a mere $2 billion, will be the Middle East's ticket to the twenty-first century. Then there is the danger of nuclear weapons no mention of Israel's stockpile and a host of other points made in somewhat rambling fashion.

This is not a book for serious historians, although Peres does drop a few tidbits concerning the events leading to the Oslo accords. Mostly it is a sketch, often an appealing one, of a future that could be, if peace comes to the Middle East. But a road map is not provided. And some of the specific proposals, such as relying on a regional development bank instead of the World Bank, are based on questionable premises.

The lack of a minimum of fact-checking and copy editing detracts from the books seriousness. Still, the book reflects the man. Peres is one of the few leaders in the region who seems to be seriously trying to transcend the limits of the past and confront the issues of the future. For this alone he deserves praise.

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