A necessary and unprecedented account of America's changing relationship with Israel
When it comes to Israel, U.S. policy has always emphasized the unbreakable bond between the two countries and our ironclad commitment to Israel's security. Today our ties to Israel are close—so close that when there are differences, they tend to make the news. But it was not always this way.
Dennis Ross has been a direct participant in shaping U.S. policy toward the Middle East, and Israel specifically, for nearly thirty years. He served in senior roles, including as Bill Clinton's envoy for Arab-Israeli peace, and was an active player in the debates over how Israel fit into the region and what should guide our policies. In Doomed to Succeed, he takes us through every administration from Truman to Obama, throwing into dramatic relief each president's attitudes toward Israel and the region, the often tumultuous debates between key advisers, and the events that drove the policies and at times led to a shift in approach.
Ross points out how rarely lessons were learned and how distancing the United States from Israel in the Eisenhower, Nixon, Bush, and Obama administrations never yielded any benefits and why that lesson has never been learned. Doomed to Succeed offers compelling advice for how to understand the priorities of Arab leaders and how future administrations might best shape U.S. policy in that light.
One of the world's strongest alliances emerged through fractiousness and misunderstanding, according to this insightful history of American-Israeli relations by a noted participant observer. Ross (The Missing Peace), a diplomat and policy maker in several American administrations, surveys presidential policy toward Israel as it oscillated through warm spells under Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Reagan, Clinton, and George W. Bush, and cold snaps under Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Carter, George H.W. Bush, and Obama. Ross deftly explores the contingencies of this history, which hinged on personality clashes, the chaos of events, and the personal attitudes held by presidents, while stressing broader themes. One is the steady strengthening of the relationship as America came to view Israel as a partner against Soviet influence and terrorism, and as domestic political sentiment embraced Israel. A countervailing dynamic, the author contends, has been the persistent belief in the State Department and elsewhere that close ties to Israel would damage U.S. relations with Arab countries; his well-argued conclusion is that Arab leaders consistently place other priorities above the Palestinian issue and give America no credit for distancing itself from Israel, instead expecting still more concessions. Ross's fluently written account includes colorful firsthand recollections of crises and diplomatic wranglings. Readers of all political persuasions will enjoy this fresh, contrarian analysis of America's Middle East policy.