Restoring the Balance: A Middle East Strategy for the Next President

Brookings Institution Press
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The next U.S. president will need to pursue a new strategic framework for advancing American interests in the Middle East. The mounting challenges include sectarian conflict in Iraq, Iran's pursuit of nuclear capabilities, failing Palestinian and Lebanese governments, a dormant peace process, and the ongoing war against terror. Compounding these challenges is a growing hostility toward U.S. involvement in the Middle East. The old policy paradigms, whether President George W. Bush's model of regime change and democratization or President Bill Clinton's model of peacemaking and containment, will no longer suit the likely circumstances confronting the next administration in the Middle East. In R estoring the Balance, experts from the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution and from the Council on Foreign Relations propose a new, nonpartisan strategy drawing on the lessons of past failures to address both the short-term and long-term challenges to U.S. interests. Following an overview chapter by Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Martin Indyk, director of the Saban Center, individual chapters address the Arab-Israeli conflict, counterterrorism, Iran, Iraq, political and economic development, and nuclear proliferation. Specific policy recommendations stem from in-depth research and extensive dialogue with individuals in government, media, academia, and the private sector throughout the region. The experts include Stephen Biddle, Isobel Coleman, Steven A. Cook, Steven Simon, and Ray Takeyh from the Council on Foreign Relations and Daniel L. Byman, Suzanne Maloney, Kenneth M. Pollack, Bruce Riedel, ShibleyTelhami, and Tamara Cofman Wittes from Brookings' Saban Center.
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About the author

Richard N. Haass is president of the Council on Foreign Relations. Until June 2003 he was director of policy planning for the Department of State, where he was a principal adviser to Secretary of State Colin Powell on a broad range of foreign policy concerns. Previously, Haass was vice president and director of Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution. He was also special assistant to President George H. W. Bush and senior director for Near East and South Asian affairs on the staff of the National Security Council, 1989-93. He is the author or editor of ten books in American foreign policy, including The Opportunity: America's Moment to Alter History's Course. Martin S. Indyk is the director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. He served in several senior positions in the U.S. government, most recently as ambassador to Israel and assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, and he was also a founding executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
Oct 30, 2009
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Pages
232
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ISBN
9780815701880
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / International Relations / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Richard N. Haass

When should the United States go to war?

It is arguably the most important foreign policy question facing any president, and Richard Haass -- a member of the National Security Council staff for the first President Bush and the director of policy planning in the State Department for Bush II -- is in a unique position to address it. Haass is one of just a handful of individuals -- along with Colin Powell, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, and Bob Gates -- involved at a senior level of U.S. government decision making during both Iraq conflicts. He is the first to take us behind closed doors and the first to provide a personal account. The result is a book that is authoritative, revealing, and surprising. Haass explains not only what happened but why.

At first blush, the two Iraq wars appear similar. Both involved a President George Bush and the United States in conflicts with Saddam Hussein and Iraq. There, however, the resemblance ends. Haass contrasts the decisions that shaped the conduct of the two wars and makes a crucial distinction between the 1991 and 2003 conflicts. The first Iraq war, following Saddam Hussein's invasion of neighboring Kuwait, was a war of necessity. It was limited in ambition, well executed, and carried out with unprecedented international support.

By contrast, the second Iraq war was one of choice, the most significant discretionary war undertaken by the United States since Vietnam. Haass argues that it was unwarranted, as the United States had other viable policy options. Making matters worse was the fact that this ambitious undertaking was poorly implemented and fought with considerably more international opposition than backing.

These are the principal conclusions of this compelling, honest, and challenging book by one of this country's most respected voices on foreign policy. Haass's assessments are critical yet fair -- and carry tremendous weight. He offers a thoughtful examination of the means and ends of U.S. foreign policy: how it should be made, what it should seek to accomplish, and how it should be pursued.

War of Necessity, War of Choice -- part history, part memoir -- provides invaluable insight into some of the most important recent events in the world. It also provides a much-needed compass for how the United States can apply the lessons learned from the two Iraq wars so that it is better positioned to put into practice what worked and to avoid repeating what so clearly did not.
Martin S. Indyk
By the time of Barack Obama's inauguration as the 44th president of the United States, he had already developed an ambitious foreign policy vision. By his own account, he sought to bend the arc of history toward greater justice, freedom, and peace; within a year he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, largely for that promise.

In Bending History, Martin Indyk, Kenneth Lieberthal, and Michael O'Hanlon measure Obama not only against the record of his predecessors and the immediate challenges of the day, but also against his own soaring rhetoric and inspiring goals. Bending History assesses the considerable accomplishments as well as the failures and seeks to explain what has happened.

Obama's best work has been on major and pressing foreign policy challenges—counterterrorism policy, including the daring raid that eliminated Osama bin Laden; the "reset" with Russia; managing the increasingly significant relationship with China; and handling the rogue states of Iran and North Korea. Policy on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, however, has reflected serious flaws in both strategy and execution. Afghanistan policy has been plagued by inconsistent messaging and teamwork. On important "softer" security issues—from energy and climate policy to problems in Africa and Mexico—the record is mixed. As for his early aspiration to reshape the international order, according greater roles and responsibilities to rising powers, Obama's efforts have been well-conceived but of limited effectiveness.

On issues of secondary importance, Obama has been disciplined in avoiding fruitless disputes (as with Chavez in Venezuela and Castro in Cuba) and insisting that others take the lead (as with Qaddafi in Libya). Notwithstanding several missteps, he has generally managed well the complex challenges of the Arab awakenings, striving to strike the right balance between U.S. values and interests.

The authors see Obama's foreign policy to date as a triumph of discipline and realism over ideology. He has been neither the transformative beacon his devotees have wanted, nor the weak apologist for America that his critics allege. They conclude that his grand strategy for promoting American interests in a tumultuous world may only now be emerging, and may yet be curtailed by conflict with Iran. Most of all, they argue that he or his successor will have to embrace U.S. economic renewal as the core foreign policy and national security challenge of the future.

Richard N. Haass
Buttressed by input from scholars, diplomats, and observers with an intimate knowledge of U.S. foreign policy, Honey and Vinegar examines "engagement"—strategies that primarily involve the use of positive incentives. The book contends that although engagement has received little scrutiny relative to other, more punitive foreign policy approaches, it has great potential as a tool for modifying the behavior of regimes with which the United States has significant disagreements.Heightened awareness of the costs associated with the use of sanctions or military force has catalyzed a search for policy alternatives. In this quest to find other appropriate policy options for pursuing foreign policy goals, strategies of engagement warrant serious consideration. As argued in these pages, the use of incentives, rather than penalties, may be particularly well suited to the post–Cold War world, where globalization has made the economic isolation of any country difficult to achieve. At the same time, the collapse of the Soviet Union has meant that American carrots may be especially savory to many regimes once reliant on Soviet support. Paradoxically, engagement can be a good choice, even when it fails, in that it can open the door for other policy options. For instance, the two years in which America tried to engage Saddam Hussein before the Gulf War worked to the advantage of the United States later. After Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, American efforts to build a military coalition to oppose Iraq were facilitated by the sense in the region that the United States had earlier pursued a conciliatory policy, but to no avail.Contributors to this volume have provided seven cases exploring episodes of engagement: relations between the United States and China; Europe's "Critical Dialogue" with Iran; U.S. engagement with Iraq from 1988 to 1990; U.S. efforts to engage North Korea; the combination of U.S. persuasion and coercion toward South Africa in the apartheid era; the lessons of U.S.-Soviet détente; and the process of normalization of relations between the United States and Vietnam. In addition to contemplating the historical record, the book is forward looking, discussing ways in which incentives might be better introduced as the United States seeks continued or new relations with a variety of problem countries including China, Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Russia, and Syria. While the editors are careful to point out the difficulties of managing strategies of engagement, they nevertheless conclude that incentives should be accorded consideration equal to the more conventional punitive options of sanctions and military force.
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