In This Review
America's Challenges in the Greater Middle East: The Obama Administration's Policies

America's Challenges in the Greater Middle East: The Obama Administration's Policies

By Shahram Akbarzadeh

Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, 284 pp.

The experts collected here appraise U.S. policy toward the vast array of countries from the Maghreb to Afghanistan, covering essentially the first two years of Barack Obama’s presidency and comparing his performance and policies with those of his predecessor. More comprehensive than most such works, the book includes the often overlooked Central Asian states and Somalia but gives short shrift to Syria, Sudan, and Yemen and ignores Lebanon altogether. Many of the chapters address the tension between the urge to promote democracy and the necessity of dealing with existing regimes. Although most of these analyses of U.S. Middle East policy were apparently completed before the onset of the revolutions now shaking the Arab world, they are still useful in understanding what changed, and what did not, during the period of transition from the final years of the Bush administration to the beginning of the Obama era. Taken together, they suggest that by avoiding George W. Bush’s unilateralist aggressiveness, Obama has implemented a conservative foreign policy that has muted democracy promotion and worked within the existing system.