“Winning the Un-War,” by Charles Pena; “Neoconned & Neoconned Again,” “The New American Militarism,” “Empire Has No Clothes,” by Ivan Eland; “Imperial Hubris,” by top CIA agent; “Rise of the Vulcans,” by James Mann, “Global Domination or Global Leadership,” by Zbigniew Brzezinski”; The Sorrows of Empire,” by Chalmer Roberts; “Terrorism and Tyranny: Trampling Freedom, Justice, and Peace to Rid the World of Evil,” by James Bovard; “Imperial America-the Bush Assault on the World Order;” “Divine Wind” by Israel Shamir; Left Behind; Rethinking Nuclear Deterrence ; Buchanan’s “Republic not Empire”; “Under Seige” ; “The New Terrorism” by Walter Laqueur; “The Fire This Time,”(on line) by Ramsey Clark, “Blowback,” Noam Chomsky, Kagan/Kristol on American Empire & more
Rethinking Nuclear Deterrence ; Buchanan’s “Republic not Empire”; “Under Seige” ; “The New Terrorism” by Walter Laqueur; “The Fire This Time,” by Ramsey Clark, “Blowback,” Noam Chomsky, Kagan/Kristol on American Empire & “Savage Wars of Peace” and more (See also AntiWar.com’s Reviews of Various Books from our same perspective Site )
12/09/11 Rabbi Outcast–Elmer Berger and American Jewish Anti-Zionism by Jack Ross –several speakers including Allan Brownfeld, Josh Ruebner, Andrew Kilgore at the National Press Club9/06/11 Cheney’s Memoir, In My Time Shows Selecctive Recall by Walter Pincus in Washington Post5/15/11 Adam Hochschild’s “To End All Wars,” on World War I Fascinating account of the home front in England during First World War, the incredible slaughter, the wrecking of England1/20/11 Invisible War: The United States and the Iraq Sanctions by Joy Gordon (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010), 359 pages. reviewed as America’s Peacetime Crimes against Iraq a superb review with details of the history of the time between the two Iraq wars when the American blockade by Anthony Gregory6/06/10 America–Flying too close to the Sun–“The Icarus Syndrome” by Peter Beinart — great analysis of American pride and where it is leading us6/04/09 Hitler, Churchill and the Unnecessary War by Pat Buchanan, reviewed by Laurence Vance (author of Christianity and War)– a detailed summation of the history of the ruination of Europe and lessons for today’s American Empire and its war wanters2/04/09 “The Fall of the House of Bush: The Untold Story of How a Band of True Believers Seized the Executive Branch, Started the Iraq War, and Still Imperils America’s Future” by Craig Unger — How the Neocon-Christian Right Alliance brought down the House of Bush1/31/09 CIA Agent Recounts Search for Iraqi WMD “Hide and Seek, The Search for Truth in Iraq” describes “lumbering superpower,” U.S. using UN Mission for Spying, Washington refused answer Iraqi entreaties for negotiations, U.S. brutalities and arrests of Iraqis who opposed Hussein, Saddam kept in solitary confinement after capture.10/24/08 “The Shadow Factory, the Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America,” Debate flares over Israel’s access to American secrets New Bamford book, details connections and use of Israeli founded companies8/09/08 THE DARK SIDE The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals. NY TIMES How Cheney and small group set up torture, renditions, kidnappings of suspects –against resistance from U.S. Army, Justice Dept, State Dept, etc8/05/08 The Way of the World White House denies faking Iraq-al-Qaida link— Press secretary calls allegation in book ‘absurd’ —New Ron Suskind book details fabrications used by Bush to pretend Iraq linked to 9/116/20/08 Ain’t My America – The Long, Noble History of Antiwar Conservatism and Middle-American Anti-Imperialism by Bill Kauffman reviewed by Doug Bandow… “cockeyed militarism of the Bush administration….has poisoned the word conservative ……..Religious Right has joined the War Party.” 6/02/08 Scott McClellan’s Explains What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception -book reviewed by Arnaud deBorchgrave–the campaign of Bush & Co. lies–how they sold the war 4/18/08 Great American Hypocrites by Glenn Greenwald — War and empire wanters (neoconservatives) analyzed (hint-most never served in military nor rarely were ever in a fight) — Conservatives image as “tough guys” “as a country that is inherently good, our invasions and bombs are well intentioned.” 4/20/08 Daydream Believers: How a Few Grand Ideas Wrecked American Power by Fred Kaplan interesting analysis of neo-conservative and Jewish thinking and mind-set in promoting war1/19/08 The Unknown Black Book Long ignored (suppressed) history of the collaboration and murder of Jews by East Europeans (blamed on Nazis) by Josh Rubenstein (of Amnesty International) & Ilya Altman1/18/08 Conservatism in America by Paul Gottfried – How Neocons work with old liberals (e.g. NY times publishes Kristol, but not Buchanan or Gottfried), the fight against neocon control of major conservative foundations, e.g. Heritage, and media, e.g. Wall Street Journal, National Review, a top grade writer and analyst. Reviewed by Peter Gemma12/14/07 The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration by Jack Goldsmith Cheney’s Cheney, David Addington, reviewed by David Cole1/14/07 They Knew they Were Right- The Rise of the Neocons America’s disaster 11/19/07 “The Fall of the House of Bush” see short Video of interview with Craig Unger, book author, Early Support of Bush by Neocons as way to take power using the Religious Right for empire agenda and wars 11/06/07 It’s Not Just the Israel Lobby critique of Mearsheimer-Walt book in ignoring other interests, in particular the military industrial lobby for benefiting from or promoting chaos in the Middle East10/24/07 CURVEBALL: Spies, Lies and the Con Man Who Caused a War, by veteran Los Angeles Times reporter Bob Drogin. See also George Will’s analysis9/11/07 The Israeli Lobby by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt reviewed by Richard Cohen, a subject formerly “verbotten” and a career wrecker to openly discuss2/11/07 “The End Times Passover: Etymological Challenges to Millenarian Doctrines” debunks Armageddonite “philosophy,” argues that Bible promotes peacemaking rather than encouraging conflict in M.E.5/02/06 Behind Enemy Lines reviews of 8 books on bin Laden, very profound overview of the war, various quotes, experts’ analyses, objectives, strengths, weaknesses, etc. THE NATION“The End Times Passover: Etymological Challenges to Millenarian Doctrines” another of new books on Christian “end of the world” fundamentalist promotion of chaos in the Middle East
President Carter’s Palestine– Peace not Apartheid interview with Der Spiegel
“What Terrorists Want: Understanding the Enemy, Containing the Threat” — Why We Can’t Win the War on Terror by Louise Richardson, “”America tends to treat Middle East diplomacy as a win/lose or zero-sum game in which Syrian, Iranian, Hezbollah or Hamas gains are by definition American losses and vice versa. The result, of course, is the United States always loses, because if you insist that the population of the region choose between Syria, Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, on the one hand, or the United States and Israel, on the other, they are going to choose the other side every time,” (James Dobbins) ……Her book effectively demolishes virtually every myth that the Bush administration has promulgated about terrorism, and demonstrates (if further demonstration is needed) why its policies have greatly increased the threat to the United States.”
Target Iran by Scott Ritter– Israeli Lobby pushing US into another War
The End of Iraq – How American Incompetence Created a War Without End one of many new books about the Bush-Republican disaster
American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century,” by Kevin Phillips — “Only three paragraphs in, Phillips warns, “The Rapture, end-times, and Armageddon hucksters in the United States rank with any Shiite ayatollahs, and the last two presidential elections mark the transformation of the gop into the first religious party in U.S. history.” CHRISTIANITY TODAY review
Where the Right Went Wrong by Pat Buchanan, 2004 –we are a bit late with this review, but the subject is relevant as the Republican Party still is self destructing–the neocon takeover, but we disagree that free trade is also at fault
“Winning the Un-War,” by Charles Pena, reviewing how to combat Al Qaeda
Behind Enemy Lines Excellent review of 8 books on Bin Laden, various quotes, experts’ analyses, objectives, strengths, weaknesses, etc. THE NATION 5/15/06
Osama Bin Laden: America’s Enemy in His Own Words Interesting editing and background to speeches and thinking – see Amazon link
“Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower,” by William Blum Author Who Got Boost from Bin Laden
Electing to Fight: Why Emerging Democracies Go to War “emerging democracies tend to have weak political institutions and are especially likely to go to war,” very interesting review
Left Behind Books very interesting report — top best seller on end of the world little read or understood among outsiders
The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq by George Packer –very interesting about early occupation of Iraq and how it went wrong
NeoConned and NeoConned Again another review by Lev Navrozov – compendium of top writers’ articles against the war– a major book for every collection, many interesting items of information described in good review– including last interview with Jude Wanniski
Dying to Win – The Logic of Suicide Terrorism interview with author
War Made Easy by Norman Soloman –how the media promote going to wars
A Soldier’s Picks Books for Soldiers on the frontiers of the empire
The Case for Democracy by Natan Sharansky Bush’s main reading about democracy , reviewed by Leon Hadar, how Bush got his ideas, another neocon pitch for unending war and empire
HOW WE GOT TO ABU GHRAIB by Sy Hersh, reviewed by Justin Raimondo
THE EMPIRE HAS NO CLOTHES by Ivan Eland –covers the panorama of history from Sparta, World War 1 to now
“THE BUSH BETRAYAL” by James Bovard –domestic politics too –betrayal of most conservative-Republican beliefs and policies
Excellent Essay on rise of religious fundamentalism & fanatacism what would Jefferson do? –several books reviewed also on Jewish situation today in the world–by Robert Kuttner
Sy Hersh New Book Details Guantanamo Tortures and Approvals from Administration –-FBI told its agents not to assist or be present during tortures– General’s early report buried
“Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe,” by Graham Allison –threats from possibly stolen fissionable material — all over the world — reviewed by George Will
America Alone: Neoconservatives & the Global Order how neocons took over foreign policy and wrecked America’s alliances
On the Road to Armageddon – How Evangelicals Became Israel’s Best Friend carried in Wash. Times 7/14
Imperial Hubris –Why the West is Losing the War on Terror “U.S. fighting a worldwide Islamic insurgency –not criminality or terrorism” by former CIA station chief “The focused and lethal threat posed to U.S. national security arises not from Muslims being offended by what America is, but rather from their plausible perception that the things they most love and value — God, Islam, their brethren and Muslim lands — are being attacked by America,”
Top Guns, A Pretext for War by James Bamford, author of “Body of Secrets”
Rise of the Vulcans The History of Bush’s War Cabinet –by James Mann, Reviewed by Georgie Anne Geyer
THE CHOICE: GLOBAL DOMINATION OR GLOBAL LEADERSHIP
by Zbigniew Brzezinski reviewed by Roger Fontaine
Colossus: The rise and Fall of the American Empire by Niall Fergusun Reviewed by Anatol Lieven
The End of Evil: How to Win the War on Terror by Richard Perle and David Frum, reviewed by James Bovard –any title like ending evil must be an evil book, Ed.
“The Sorrows of Empire” by Chalmers Johnson
Frontier Justice: Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Bushwhacking of America
by Scott Ritter all about the “missing” wmd, also Clinton’s attack on iraq, removal of inspectors, etc.
“Terrorism and Tyranny: Trampling Freedom, Justice, and Peace to Rid the World of Evil,” by James Bovard Review by Martin Sieff – UPI Chief correspondent
The Divine Wind by Israel Shamir Israel drives America too far –will end in disaster
The Armageddon Network about another Perle protege and the influence
Paul Gottfried’s great books —how conservativism got hi-jacked by the Neo-cons.
“Savage Wars of Peace” by Max Boot & “Supreme Command” by Elliot A. Cohen analysis of America empire building , lessons from past, the “Post Powell doctrine” NY Times (needs registration)
The Puzzle Palace & Body of Secrets Inside the NSA (National Security Agency) by James Bamford
Foreign Policy Folly review by William Ruger in REASON MAGAZINE
A worrisome conservative strategic vision: “Present Dangers: Crisis and Opportunity in American Foreign and Defense Policy,” edited by Robert Kagan and William Kristol
All that’s wrong and evil in Neo-conservative empire wanters views. A sweeping analysis from Athens to “what F.A. Hayek called the ‘fatal conceit’ of modern liberalism: ‘that man is able to shape the world around him according to his wishes.’
Out of the Ashes : The Resurrection of Saddam Hussein
by Andrew Cockburn, Patrick Cockburn See Amazon review
DETERRENCE AND SECURITY IN THE 21ST CENTURY— Rethinking Nuclear Deterrence–2 bombs may do, one to prove a nation has them, the second to threaten the great powers– (see review below)
The Media and the Kosovo Crisis –How the lies were Spread
Under Seige–The Deadly Impact of Sanctions and War by Anthony Arnove, reviewed by Lew Rockwell
THE NEW MILITARY HUMANISM by Noam Chomsky “the Rogue Superpower…flip side of hi-tech bullying is mad scramble among smaller states to obtain weapons of mass destruction”…..”malicious use of American power”
THE NEW TERRORISM by Walter Laqueur (see below)
THE FIRE THIS TIME–U.S. WAR CRIMES IN THE GULF by Ramsey Clark (see below)
THE IRON WALL Israel and the Arab World By Avi Shlaim Reviewed by Milton Viorst (see below)
Rethinking Major and Minor Powers’ Nuclear Deterrence
China, Britain, France and the Enduring Legacy of the Nuclear Revolution
By Avery Goldstein
Much recent writing about international politics understandably
highlights the many changes that have followed from the collapse
of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. This book, by
contrast, analyzes an important continuity that, the author
argues, will characterize international strategic affairs well into the
twenty-first century:nuclear deterrence will remain at the core of
the security policies of the world’s great powers and will continue
to be an attractive option for many less powerful states worried
about adversaries whose capabilities they cannot match.
The central role of nuclear deterrence persists despite the advent of
a new international system in which serious military threats are
no longer obvious, the use of force is judged irrelevant to
resolving most international disputes, and states’ interests are
increasingly defined in economic rather than military terms.
Indeed, the author suggests why these changes may increase the
appeal of nuclear deterrence in the coming decades.
Beginning with a reconsideration of nuclear deterrence theory, the
book takes issue with the usual emphasis on the need for
invulnerable retaliatory forces and threats that leaders can
rationally choose to carry out. The author explains why states,
including badly outgunned states, can rely on nuclear deterrent
strategies despite the difficulty they may face in deploying
invulnerable forces and despite the implausibility of rationally
carrying out their threats of retaliation. In the subsequent
empirical analysis that examines the security policies of China,
Britain, and France and taps recently declassified documents, the
author suggests that the misleading standard view of what is
often termed rational deterrence theory may well reflect the
experience, or at least aspirations, of the Cold War superpowers
more than the logic of deterrence itself.
Case studies assessing the nuclear deterrent policies of China,
Britain, and France highlight the reasons why their experience,
rather than that of the more frequently studied Cold War
superpowers, better reflects the strategic and economic factors
likely to shape states’ security policies in the twenty-first
century. The book concludes by drawing out the implications of
the author’s theoretical and empirical analysis for the future role of
Avery Goldstein is Professor of Political Science at the
University of Pennsylvania and Director of the Asia Program at
the Foreign Policy Research Institute. Review supplied by FPRI, 1528 Walnut Street, Suite 610, Philadelphia, PA 19102; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
“A REPUBLIC, NOT AN EMPIRE“ by Pat Buchanan
Of course Buchanan is right about the argument, even once made by Harry Truman, better to have let the Nazis and Communists exhaust themselves. He’s even right that many Jews might have been saved, certainly if there had been a negotiated peace instead on demand for unconditional surrender. And America did not go to war to fight the Holocaust, in fact refugee Jews were forbidden entry into the United States. Following is a fair report on the issue from the NEW YORK TIMES, still the best source in the nation for all the news, it may be buried, but they do publish more fairly than nearly anyone else.
NEW YORK TIMES
30 September 1999
A Fair Reading Of History
Christopher Layne and Benjamin Schwartz
Patrick Buchanan has been accused of harboring pro-Hitler sympathies and of
being an isolationist for his interpretation of World War II laid out in a
recent book. But this interpretation is hardly beyond the pale of
respectable discourse. Diplomatic historians have long made similar
In his book, Mr. Buchanan contends that Germany posed no direct military
threat to America until it declared war in December 1941. This statement has
provoked a furious response, yet Mr. Buchanan’s argument is hardly novel.
It has long been noted that after the fall of France in June 1940, the
United States decided to allow Britain and the Soviet Union to bear the
brunt of the war effort. As long as Germany fought the British and the
Soviets, both of whom received American arms, America was virtually immune
According to Mr. Buchanan, this strategy could be followed precisely because
Germany was not capable of threatening the United States. Numerous scholars
have made this argument, including Bruce Russett, a Yale political
scientist, in his 1972 book “No Clear and Present Danger.” Indeed, this
unsentimental and even ruthless approach to foreign policy is identical to
what Harry Truman proposed in 1941. The United States should not fight in
the European conflict, the future President argued. Instead, America should
encourage Germany and Russia to fight one another to exhaustion, thereby
weakening the aggressive totalitarian threats of both Communism and Nazism.
In his book, Mr. Buchanan also argued that Britain and France should not
have extended a security guarantee to Poland in 1939. British historians
have long been divided on whether Britain should have agreed to intervene if
Poland and Germany went to war. Indeed, conservative scholars like David
Dilks and Maurice Cowling, and leftists like A. J. P. Taylor have all argued
that the guarantee effectively took the decision for war out of London’s
hands. And they assert that Poland was unnecessary for Britain’s security
and, in any event, impossible to defend. Poland could be saved militarily
only if the Soviet Union joined the West against Germany. But from 1939 to
1941, Stalin was allied with Hitler.
Above all else, critics have a moral problem with Mr. Buchanan’s argument:
that is, his isolationist views ignore the American obligation to intervene
to end the Holocaust. But the implication that America entered the war to
save the Jews is entirely wrong. The United States intervened only after
Germany declared war. And even during the war, America’s goal was not to
save the Jews.
Yes, Mr. Buchanan’s approach to history is polemical, not disinterested. His
past criticism of Israel and remarks about Jews affected the book’s
But that should not be the reason critics denounce his interpretation of
America’s role in World War II. It only makes their statements seem
inflammatory, not his.
Christopher Layne is a visiting scholar at the Center for International
Relations at the University of Southern California. Benjamin Schwarz is a
correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly.
John V. Denson, ed., THE COSTS OF WAR–America’s Pyrrhic Victories (Transaction Publishers, 1998)-paperback available, ed by John V. Denson.–a classic history of America’s wars by noted authors including Ralph Raico, Samuel Francis, Murray Rothbard, Thomas Fleming, Justin Raimondo, Paul Gottfried. FOR REVIEW
THE NEW TERRORISM (Oxford, 312 pages, $30) by Walter Laqueur, reviewed by Scott McConnell in the WALL STREET JOURNAL
In the 70’s and 80’s Walter Laqueur now reminds us, he warned against exaggerating the dangers of terrorism……and indeed, looking back, it is clear that he was right. The Red Brigades, Baader Mainhof gang, Carlos the Jackal and other terrorists–despite the misery they caused–achieved nothing of their revolutionary goals. In “The New Terrorism” Mr. Laqueur tells us that his views have changed, that we need to rethink “our most basic assumptions” about terrorism. The reason is the theoretical possibility that terrorists will acquire weapons of mass destruction–nuclear, chemical and biological–and thus pose a threat “infinitely greater than it was in the past.”……
Mr. Laqueur is more forthcoming on another (“almost taboo”) aspect of the current terrorist threat. In response to those who stress the peaceful nature of the Muslim faith, he retorts that a majority of toady’s violent conflict involve Muslim countries or active Muslim minorities……Probably true. Again, it would be helpful to have some analysis of what inspires Islam’s “holy rage” against the West.
“Finally, in a work that renders so vivid the prospect that the end of history will not be the triumph of liberal capitalism, but fire and pestilence in major cities, one wishes that more had been said about how to avoid such a fate……there remains a dearth of serious discussion about what the new threats imply for America’s global strategy.
“There is a growing belief–originating on the libertarian right, but now making its way into other political affiliations–that Washington’s global interventionism has magnified the chances that a U.S. city will become the target of mega-terrorism. Recent American military successes—-have stirred up tides of resentment….our broader diplomatic conduct may provoke attacks that can’t easily be defended against.”
by Ramsey Clark Reviewed by Barry Goodman
This was the most comprehensive account of the devastation upon the
infrastructure, property and civilian population of Iraq. There is a
detailed legal analysis by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark
as to the specific war crimes committed against the people of Iraq. He
observed first-hand the violations of law and magnitude of the
destruction resulting from the war. Chapter 9, entitled “Crimes Against
Peace, War Crimes, and Crimes Against Humanity,” itemizes the
violations of international law. These crimes are acts in violation of the
Charter of the United Nations (Articles I & II); Part IV, Section 22 of
the Hague Conventions of 1899, revised in 1907, Charter of the
Nuremberg Tribunal 1950, No. 82 and Protocol I of 1977 Addition
to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 (Part IV Articles 48, 51, 55, 56
& 57). Chapter 3, entitled “War Crimes Against Iraq’s Civilian
Population” describes the targeting of infrastructure and life support
systems, the bombing of cities and highways, and the devastation of
the Amariyah Civilian Bomb Shelter. Explicit crime victim accounts
and interviews depict the tragedies on a deeply human level. The legal
analysis is presented by one most qualified to do a legal analysis, the
former United States Attorney General, Ramsey Clark. Michael
Ratner, former director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and
past president of the National Lawyer’s Guild presents an additional
legal analysis of International law and war crimes. The book has
extensive references and led me to many other related printed and
Internet legal research sources. Complete Book
Guns for Peace: Zionism’s Passion for Security
By Milton Viorst
Thursday, January 6, 2000; Page C02
THE IRON WALL
Israel and the Arab World
By Avi Shlaim
Norton. 670 pp. $32.50
Avi Shlaim, a historian who teaches at Oxford, places himself among the “revisionists” in dealing with Israel’s relations with the Arab world. His term, insofar as it conveys a departure from conventional Zionist accounts, is accurate. Western readers were long fed honey-coated history in which Israeli statesmen struggled valiantly for peace against villainous Arabs.
This is the view that much of the American Jewish community still embraces, and which for decades has been the basis of U.S. policy in the Middle East. Shlaim leaves no doubt that this perception is largely false. But he faces a problem in coming late to the game. Most careful observers of international affairs long ago dropped the vision of a sainted Israel. Though still benefiting from certain taboos, Israel, like other states, is now subjected to serious critical scrutiny. Shlaim has written an excellent chronicle, coldly honest in examining Israeli practices; but since so much evidence of Israel’s moral lapses is already on the record, it can hardly be called “revisionist.”
“The Iron Wall” takes its title from two celebrated articles written in 1923 by Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the founder and spiritual guide of right-wing Zionism. Before Jabotinsky, Zionism simply dismissed the Arab question. Its sloganeers proclaimed that Palestine was an empty land waiting to be taken over by the Jews. Its more serious thinkers held that Zionism, in bringing prosperity to Palestine, would earn the Arabs’ gratitude. Jabotinsky considered such notions nonsense. While promoting Jewish sovereignty over all of Palestine, he had enough respect for the Arabs to know that, far from being passive collaborators, they would fight for their homeland. Jabotinsky rejected the view that Zionism could be realized through diplomacy. The Jews will have their state, he maintained, only by erecting an “iron wall” of Jewish bayonets that would subdue the Arabs in battle.
Though Jabotinsky’s followers did not take power until Menachem Begin became prime minister in 1977, his ideas passed in the 1930s into the Zionist mainstream. By then, few Zionist leaders believed that a Jewish state could be established by the goodwill of Western powers. Zionism became an armed movement prepared to settle its disputes, first with the British, then with its neighbors, by force. It is ironic that Jabotinsky had also argued that Israel, after establishing its military superiority, would have to reach a settlement by which Jews and Arabs could live peacefully together. Mainstream Zionism adopted Jabotinsky’s commitment to the “iron wall” but has never taken serious measures to reach a reconciliation with the Arabs still fighting for a homeland within Palestine’s borders.
Shlaim is at his best in the early years. Israel, he tells us, makes documents available to scholars only after 30 years have elapsed, which explains why the book’s freshness gives way to familiar material after the Six-Day War of 1967. For the nonspecialist, this does not matter: Shlaim has produced a powerful overview of 50 years of policy. But even the specialists will be grateful, for it was in the period before 1967 that Israel’s militant nature was permanently forged.
Shlaim contends persuasively that, though Israel was already the strongest power in the region, its leaders after independence had no interest in making peace without further weakening Arab military capacity. David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, not only rejected Arab peace overtures but also repeatedly provoked Arab governments as a means of undermining their stability.
Moshe Sharett, the one figure in the inner circle for whom peace was a virtue in itself, was hounded out of office, while power gravitated to military leaders, most notably Moshe Dayan, who promoted aggression. A massive raid on the Egyptians in Gaza led inexorably to the 1956 Suez War, while attacks on the Syrians in the north were the prelude to the 1967 war. Even the protests of President Dwight D. Eisenhower were no deterrent. Finally, beginning with Lyndon Johnson, Washington seems to have thrown up its hands in frustration, letting the Israelis do whatever they wanted.
Israel’s current generation of leaders has inherited its values from those who shaped the founding of the state. Binyamin Netanyahu, the recent prime minister, was a proclaimed disciple of Jabotinsky, while Ehud Barak, his successor, is in the mold of Ben-Gurion. A Ben-Gurion quotation cited by Shlaim could easily be repeated by Barak. “I am prepared,” he declared, “to get up in the middle of the night in order to sign a peace agreement–but I am not in a hurry and I can wait ten years. We are under no pressure whatsoever.” Though far more than 10 years have passed, Israel’s policy remains much the same. Both Ben-Gurion and Barak, within the Israeli context, are regarded as pragmatists rather than ideologues. But Shlaim makes clear that for both, peacemaking is secondary to the concept of a secure Israel behind an iron wall. Obviously, many Israelis agree with them.
Milton Viorst, the author of “Sands of Sorrow: Israel’s Journey From Independence” and several books on the Arab world.
Between the Alps and a Hard Place –American Foreign Policy for Sale. The indictment against the Swiss (over policies the Allies much appreciated during the war itself) is
masterfully dissected by Angelo Codevilla in his eye-opening Between the
Alps and a Hard Place, an important work that portrays the levers of
American diplomacy rented out to campaign contributors and groups
pursuing private agendas.