Shifting Sands: The United States in the Middle East

Shifting Sands: The United States in the Middle East

by Joel S. Migdal
     
 

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Joel S. Migdal revisits the approach U.S. officials have adopted toward the Middle East since World War II, which paid scant attention to tectonic shifts in the region. After the war, the United States did not restrict its strategic model to the Middle East. Beginning with Harry S. Truman, American presidents applied a uniform strategy rooted in the country's Cold

Overview

Joel S. Migdal revisits the approach U.S. officials have adopted toward the Middle East since World War II, which paid scant attention to tectonic shifts in the region. After the war, the United States did not restrict its strategic model to the Middle East. Beginning with Harry S. Truman, American presidents applied a uniform strategy rooted in the country's Cold War experience in Europe to regions across the globe, designed to project America into nearly every corner of the world while limiting costs and overreach.

The approach was simple: find a local power that could play Great Britain's role in Europe after the war, sharing the burden of exercising power, and establish a security alliance along the lines of NATO. Yet regional changes following the creation of Israel, the Free Officers Coup in Egypt, the rise of Arab nationalism from 1948 to 1952, and, later, the Iranian Revolution and the Egypt-Israel peace treaty in 1979 complicated this project. Migdal shows how insufficient attention to these key transformations led to a series of missteps and misconceptions in the twentieth century. With the Arab uprisings of 2009 through 2011 prompting another major shift, Migdal sees an opportunity for the United States to deploy a new, more workable strategy, and he concludes with a plan for gaining a stable foothold in the region.

Editorial Reviews

Israel Studies Review - Aharon Klieman

Exquisitely timely.... Read this benchmark study at your earliest opportunity.

European Review of International Studies

Shifting Sands remains a powerful and vibrant account of the US foreign policy in the Middle East, with an authoritative analysis of the past, present (and future) socio-political dynamics of the region.

Daniel Kurtzer

Shifting Sands is a compelling narrative of American policy in the Middle East since World War II. Joel S. Migdal dissects America's static strategic model in a region that has undergone four periods of profound change. He pushes back against those who would yield to the temptation of writing the Middle East off as beset by endemic instability. Rather, eschewing visions of grand change, Migdal suggests the temperate yet more effective approach of building alliances and fostering gradual change. This is a book to be read by policy makers and students of the Middle East alike.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231166720
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
02/18/2014
Pages:
424
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Prof. Ilan Peleg
Migdal offers a comprehensive, creative and balanced description and analysis of the American role in the Middle East over the last seven decades, elegantly contextualizing the complicated subject matter while resisting the temptation to reduce it to a small number of factors. This highly readable volume is a major contribution for Middle East Studies, US foreign policy and Israel-related scholarship.

Ilan Peleg

Joel S. Migdal offers a comprehensive, creative, and balanced description and analysis of the American role in the Middle East over the last seven decades, elegantly contextualizing complicated subject matter while resisting the temptation to reduce it to a small number of factors. This highly readable volume is a major contribution to Middle East Studies, U.S. foreign policy, and Israel-related scholarship.

Meet the Author

Joel S. Migdal is the Robert F. Philip Professor of International Studies at the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington, and has been writing about the Middle East and state-society relations worldwide for more than forty years. Among his books are The Palestinian People (with Baruch Kimmerling), Through the Lens of Israel, Strong Societies and Weak States, and State-in-Society.

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