cover image THE STAKES: America and the Middle East: The Consequences of Power and the Choice for Peace

THE STAKES: America and the Middle East: The Consequences of Power and the Choice for Peace

Shibley Telhami, . . Westview, $24 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-8133-4078-4

Perception counts for a lot when it comes to U.S. policy in the Middle East—so Telhami argues in this slim but intellectually dense volume. A political scientist at the University of Maryland and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, Telhami argues that the United States could defeat Osama bin Laden and even Iraq, but still not eliminate the Islamic terrorist threat. As long as the United States is perceived in the Arab and Muslim worlds as arrogant, pro-Israel and supportive of authoritarian regimes such as Saudi Arabia's, the seeds of terror will sprout, he argues, quoting a Council on Foreign Relations study: "there is little doubt that stereotypes of the United States as arrogant, self-indulgent, hypocritical, inattentive, and unwilling or unable to engage in cross-cultural dialogue are pervasive and deeply rooted." Telhami devotes much of the book to elaborating, in readable prose, how and why American policy over the past few years has been viewed negatively. Telhami's solutions are simple. Among his proposals: the United States should become more evenhanded in its approach to the Israeli-Palestinian issue and pressure the region's authoritarian regimes to democratize. Strong defenders of American policy may find Telhami's argument a sophisticated form of "blame America," but as the world's focus narrows to Iraq, this volume provides a welcome look at how the Arab world views the broader picture. 3 maps. (Dec.)

Forecast:There should be demand for this clearheaded discussion, and Westview plans a 40,000 first printing, ads in the New York Review of Books and elsewhere and a 30-market radio satellite tour for Telhami.