In This Review

Beyond War: Reimagining American Influence in a New Middle East
Beyond War: Reimagining American Influence in a New Middle East
By David Rohde
Viking, 2013, 240 pp

Drawing on his experience as a New York Times correspondent, Rohde argues that U.S. policy in the Middle East should rely less on military strength and that Washington should stop throwing aid money at problems in the region; Rohde notes that at one point, the U.S. Agency for International Development was spending $340 million a month in Afghanistan alone. U.S. policy should focus more on responding to the needs of moderates in Middle Eastern societies and on promoting education, private investment, and public-private ventures that foster innovation, he argues. This is hardly the first book to call for a major recasting of U.S. policy toward the Middle East. But Rohde raises some big structural questions: What determines and sustains U.S. policy in the region? Is it realistic to expect dysfunctional public bureaucracies to foster private innovation? Why do some private actors act as parasites on public budgets, while others, such as the technologists that Rohde admires, innovate and create wealth? Rohde does not address such questions fully enough, making it difficult to evaluate his proposed paradigm shifts.