America's Misadventures in the Middle East

In This Review

America's Misadventures in the Middle East
By Chas W. Freeman Jr.
Just World Books, 2010
232 pp. $22.95
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An award-winning career diplomat, Freeman was U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia at the time of the Gulf War. Retiring from the Foreign Service in 1994, he remained no less involved in international affairs, being active in the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Middle East Policy Council, among others. A seemingly ideal candidate for a return to government service, Freeman was asked to serve as chair of the National Intelligence Council in early 2009 but faced a campaign that forced him to withdraw his name. From the charges against him and those making them, it is clear that he was deemed too close to Saudi Arabia and too far from Israel. This collection of 23 short papers and speeches produced from the late 1990s to 2010 puts the lie to such charges and demonstrates instead a broad-ranging critique of recent U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Freeman's is a foreign policy of national interests, not friends or favorites. He is prudent about seeking monsters to destroy (or bringing the blessings of democracy) and believes that any military intervention must have in place an adequate postconflict policy. He argues that an acceptable settlement between Israel and its Arab neighbors is a priority and that Washington needs to work with Arab states.