Although George W. Bush memorably declared, “I'm the decider,” as president he was remarkably indecisive when it came to U.S. policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His administration's policymaking featured an ongoing clash between moderate realists and conservative hard-liners inspired by right-wing religious ideas and a vision of democracy as cure-all. Riven by these competing agendas, the Bush administration vacillated between recognizing the Palestinian right to self-determination and embracing Israeli leaders who often chose war over negotiations. Through the years, the administration erratically adopted and discarded successive approaches to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The results of this irresolution included the stunning triumph of Hamas in the 2006 Palestinian elections, Israel's 2006 invasion of Lebanon, the 2008–2009 clash between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, and, in the end, virtually no diplomatic progress toward lasting peace.
In Indecision Points, Daniel Zoughbie examines the major assumptions underpinning U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East during the Bush years. Was there one policy or two? Was the Bush administration truly serious about peace? In a compelling account, Zoughbie offers original insights into these and other important questions. Drawing on the auhtor's own interviews with forty-five global leaders, including Condoleezza Rice, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Kofi Annan, Colin Powell, Tom DeLay, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Richard Perle, Leon Panetta, Chuck Hagel, Shlomo Ben Ami, and Salam Fayyad, Indecision Points provides the first comprehensive history of the Bush administration's attempt to reshape political order in a “New Middle East.”
In the 1920s, hard-line Zionists developed the doctrine of the 'Iron Wall': negotiations with the Arabs must always be from a position of military strength, and only when sufficiently strong Israel would be able to make peace with her Arab neighbours.
This doctrine, argues Avi Shlaim, became central to Israeli policy; dissenters were marginalized and many opportunities to reconcile with Palestinian Arabs were lost. Drawing on a great deal of new material and interviews with many key participants, Shlaim places Israel's political and military actions under and uncompromising lens.
His analysis will bring scant comfort to partisans on both sides, but it will be required reading for anyone interested in this fascinating and troubled region of the world.
'The Iron Wall is strikingly fair-minded, scholarly, cogently reasoned and makes enthralling ... reading' Philip Ziegler, Daily Telegraph
'Anyone wanting to understand the modern Middle East should start by reading this elegantly written and scrupulously researched book' Trevor Royle, Sunday Herald
'A milestone in modern scholarship of the Middle East' Edward Said
'Fascinating ... Shlaim presents compelling evidence for a revaluation of traditional Israeli history' Ethan Bronner, The New York Times Book Review
Avi Shlaim is Professor of International Relations at St. Antony's College, Oxford. His previous books include Collusion Across the Jordan (1988) and War and Peace in the Middle East (1995).
"This book tells what should have been known and isn't—that Israel's hidden force is as formidable as its recognized physical strength."
— Israeli President Shimon Peres