The Stakes: America and the Middle East

In This Review

The Stakes: America and the Middle East

By Shibley Telhami
Westview, 2002
208 pp. $24.00

With the horror of September 11 as a point of departure, Telhami reviews American involvement in the Middle East and traces American actions and plans since that date. This book is no "above the fray" account but an appeal for multilateralism and for understanding the limitations of sheer power in international relations. Yet Telhami so carefully discusses the counterarguments to his thesis that even those opposing his position will find this little book stimulating. He argues why the United States needs to simultaneously root out terrorists and address the ills that produce terrorism, noting that terrorists more readily thrive in countries with weak central governments. He also explains the dilemma of those Arab rulers who are willing enough to cooperate with the United States but remain constrained by inflamed public opinion. And he demonstrates that the tragic Israeli-Palestinian confrontation simply cannot be disaggregated from issues of terrorism or Saddam Hussein's Iraq. His conclusion sums up brilliantly the history of U.S. policy concerning oil and the Persian Gulf since World War II. An important contribution to the much-needed American debate on where we go from here in the Middle East.

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