War and Peace in the Middle East: A Critique of American Policy

Avi Shlaim, Author Viking Books $17.95 (147p) ISBN 978-0-670-85330-4

In a scathing critique of U.S. policy in the Middle East, Oxford professor of international relations Shlaim first shows how the post-WW I order imposed on that region by Britain and its allies created a belt of instability and turmoil with weak, unstable states run by rulers who lacked legitimacy. During the Cold War, he charges, U.S. policy was distorted by an obsession with the Soviet threat, and now that America is the unrivaled superpower in the Middle East, it continues to ignore the needs and aspirations of the populace. Shlaim charges that the Clinton administration abruptly reverted to Reagan's ``Israel-first'' approach, a retreat from Bush's more evenhanded policy in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Instead of fostering arms build-up and authoritarian regimes, the U.S., he forcefully argues, should focus on regional economic development and the need for democracy and human rights. (June)