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Policy Analysis


Myths, Illusions, and Peace: Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East

Dennis Ross and David Makovsky

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ISBN: 0670020893

Publisher: Viking


June 2009

Why has the United States consistently failed to achieve its strategic goals in the Middle East? According to Dennis Ross and David Makovsky, two of America's leading experts on the region, it is because we have been laboring under false assumptions, or mythologies, about the nature and motivation of Middle East countries and their leaders. In Myths, Illusions, and Peace, the authors debunk these damaging fallacies, held by both the right and the left, and present a concise and far-reaching set of principles that will help America set an effective course of action in the region.

Among the myths that the authors show to be false and even dangerous is the idea that Israeli-Palestinian peace is the key to solving all the Middle East's problems; that regime change is a prerequisite for peace and democracy; and that Iran's leadership is immune from diplomatic and economic pressure.

These and other historic misunderstandings have generated years' worth of failed policies and crippled America's ability to make productive decisions in this volatile part of the world, a region that will hold the key to our security in the twenty-first century. Ross and Makovsky offer a critical rethinking of American perceptions at a time of great import and change.

  • 368 Pages

Praise for Myths, Illusions, and Peace

"Ross and Makovsky are superb guides to the political bazaar known as the Middle East. Myths, Illusions, and Peace sheds new light on old dilemmas at a moment when fresh approaches to the Middle East are urgently needed, widely desired, and genuinely possible. This is a book written to be appreciated by experts and novices alike." --Madeleine K. Albright, U.S. Secretary of State, 1997-2001

"This compelling book is an insightful testament of the authors' profound grasp of Middle East history and its development into today's contemporary reality. By dispelling myths that have captivated too many for too long in our region and beyond its shores, they bring to their analysis much needed fresh focus and lucid thinking, a significant contribution to building a better future for all the peoples of the Middle East." --Shimon Peres, president of Israel

"Throughout the many decades of U.S. involvement in the Middle East, there is a pattern of success as well as failure, and it is this pattern that constitutes the backdrop to the knowledgeable and timely new book by Dennis Ross and David Makovsky -- the one a veteran of Mideast peace negotiations under several American presidents, the other a seasoned journalist and analyst." --Shlomo Avineri, Hebrew University, in Jewish Review of Books

CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer names Myths, Illusions, and Peace as one of five books to read this summer:

"This book is like an advanced course in Middle East politics. Whether you are an expert or not, you will learn a lot and gain fresh understanding about a range of difficult issues. Besides the many insights of the book, what emerges is that the authors share a belief in Middle East peace."--Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed, Head of Al-Arabiya Arab Satellite Television Network

"I rely on the work of Dennis Ross and David Makovsky for deep strategic thinking. I value their research and analysis. I consider their work a national treasure of the United States."--Lt. Gen. Keith W. Dayton, United States Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority

"No part of the world is more important to the United States or more confusing to Americans than the Middle East. In this book, two deeply experienced and highly respected observers and practitioners of American policy in the region offer a lucid, myth-shattering analysis of Middle Eastern affairs and a clear set of guidelines for the United States to follow there."--Michael Mandelbaum, author of Democracy's Good Name: The Rise and Risks of the World's Most Popular Form of Government

"Anchored in astute political analyses, Ross and Makovsky cogently blend the experiences of a diplomat with the clarity of seasoned expertise. Not only do they debunk widely and wildly held myths inherent in the Middle East's most daunting issues, they offer clear prescriptions for this and future administrations. A mandated read for students, diplomats, and presidents alike." --Kenneth W. Stein, William E. Schatten, Professor of Contemporary Middle Eastern History and Political Science, Emory University