Cauldron of Turmoil: America in the Middle East

Barry Rubin, Author
Barry Rubin, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P $24.95 (306p) ISBN 978-0-15-116128-7
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Middle East expert Rubin (Paved with Good Intentions) covers much ground here. He traces the origins of the Khomeini and Saddam regimes and shows how the world's most radically antiAmerican states vied to auction their souls to the devil-i.e., get the Americans on their side during the Iran-Iraq war-then describes how the Saudis and Kuwaitis tried much the same approach (with greater success) during the 1990-1991 Gulf War. Rubin analyzes Saddam's reasons for invading Kuwait, including his expectation that the rest of the Arab world would rally behind him, and goes on to explain why President Bush allowed the Iraqi dictator to survive Desert Storm, concluding that this ill-considered mercy was wrong on all counts. In Rubin's view, it is still unclear whether the Gulf War was a great victory or merely a lastminute salvaging of a disaster that originated in gross incompetence by U.S. leaders. His informed discussion of American involvement in the Gulf deepens our understanding of the process by which that region has become the main focus of U.S. policy crises, a place where the reputations of presidents Carter, Reagan and Bush have been severely tested. (Oct.)
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