A Falling Market

Leon Hadar has written a short, dispassionate, and gently theoretical sort of book on American policy in the Middle East.  It is not, chiefly, about military operations, terrorists, prisons, and headlines but about policy at the “geo-political” and “geo-economic level” and about predictions.  Though dry, Sandstorm is accessible to the general reader.

Hadar believes that the United States has long been tempted to bite off more than she can chew in the Middle East.  She has acted in the context of a “Middle Eastern Paradigm”—now out of date—that bundles together solid support for Israel, the cultivation of a club of oil-rich client states, and instinctive opposition to the influence of any other great power in the region.  Hadar finds this, to some extent, forgivable.  The Soviets used to be a real problem, and the Europeans did not want to pay to protect the oil.  But the Gulf War (1991) set up an American dominance in the region and over its huge oil reserves that exceeded anything conceived of previously.  It was—for technical, not moral, reasons—a step too far.  But the United States got away with taking it at the time, thanks to a bravura performance by the competent realists in the administration of President George H.W. Bush.  The aftermath, however, exposed the United States not just to Arab resentment...

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