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Challenges for America in the Middle East

by Richard Mansbach and Kirsten Taylor CQ Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 368 pages
AU$119.00 NZ$124.35
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This text offers an introduction to the foreign policy challenges for the United States in the Middle East.


By examining in depth four crucial foreign policy dilemmas - radical Islam, the Arab Spring, Israel and Palestine, and the Shia Crescent - the authors provide a window into the key issues for the U.S. in the region. They provide three chapters on each issue: Past, providing essential historical context; Present, examining the current state of affairs; and Future, analyzing the options for future action and their potential merits and problems.


Two opening chapters lay out the book's analytical framework and a concluding chapter brings the four issues together, showing how they are interconnected. Throughout, Mansbach and Taylor emphasize the interplay of foreign and domestic issues in the United States and overseas, showing how their interpenetration shapes American policy towards the region.

Chapter 1: Sources of American Foreign Policy
The Linkage of Domestic and Foreign Policies
Sources of U.S. Foreign Policy
Chapter 2: Competing Currents in U.S. Foreign Policy
Competing Currents
The Past: Competing Currents in Historical Perspective
The Present: The Impact of 9/11
Conclusion: Engagement or Disengagement?
Part I: Arab Spring or Arab Winter?
Chapter 3: America and the Arab Middle East before the Arab Spring
Sources of American Policy toward the Arab Middle East
The Arabs: World War One and After
The Middle East and Oil
The Cold War and the Arab World
Political Islam
Conclusion: Political Islam and Democracy
Chapter 4: America and the Evolution of the Arab Spring
The Arrival of Spring
Conclusion: The Middle East in an Era of Declining American Power
Chapter 5: American Options in a Changing Arab World
Conclusion: Spring or Winter?
Part II: Radical Islam
Chapter 6: Radical Islam: Origins and Evolution
Sources of American Policy toward Radical Islam
Early Islam
Sources and Meaning of Radical Islam
The Origins and Early Evolution of al-Qaeda ("the Base")
Conclusion: American Foreign Policy and the "Green Menace"
Chapter 7: America and the War on Terror
The War on Terror Begins
Al-Qaeda and Islamic Extremism after 9/11
Regional Terrorist Groups
Iraq and Syria
The "War on Terror"
Human Rights and the War on Terror
Chapter 8: An End to the War on Terror?
Al-Qaeda and Its Regional Affiliates
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria
"Lone Wolves"
Human Rights: Drone Strikes
The War on Terror
Conclusion: Terrorism Persists
Part III: Israel and Palestine
Chapter 9: America and the Evolution of the Israeli-Palestinian Conundrum, 1948-1967
The Birth of Israel
Sources of U.S. Policy toward Israel and the Palestinians
The Yom Kippur or October War
The Six-Day War and Its Consequences
Conclusion: Consequences of the Six-Day War
Chapter 10: America, Israel and Palestine: The Elusive Road to Peace
American Policy and the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process
Conclusion: What Next?
Chapter 11: Is Israel-Palestinian Peace Possible?
Two States or One?
Israeli Settlements
Hamas and Gaza
Economic and Resource Issues
Conclusion: Will It Ever End?
Part IV: The Shia Crescent
Chapter 12: Early American Relations with Iran and Iraq
Sources of American Policy toward Iran and Iraq
Iran, America, and Britain until the Iranian Revolution
The Birth and Evolution of Iraq
Chapter 13: America and the Shia Crescent: Iraq and Iran
Chapter 14: American Options in Iran and Iraq
Combatting Insurgency in Iraq
Growing Iranian influence in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East
America and Its Sunni Friends
Oil Interests
Iran's Nuclear Ambitions
Israel and Iran's “Existential Threata
Chapter 15: Conclusion: America and the Complex Middle East
The Evolution of American Foreign Policy before the Cold War
After the Cold War
Contemporary Middle East Challenges
What Next?

"Challenges for America in the Middle East helps students understand the environmental factors of Middle Eastern politics as they relate to the principles and ideas of American foreign policy. The authors present compelling arguments concerning the political reasoning behind American policy actions, as well as policy prescriptions that might be discussed or considered by key U.S. Policy actors." Mark A. Cichock, University of Texas, Arlington  


"Mansbach and Taylor's book examining the American role in and perspectives on recent developments in the Middle East is needed and timely. The strengths of Challenges for America in the Middle East are its accuracy, balance, clarity, and inclusion of well-considered policy options, which will stimulate and engage students in debates about the alternatives for American foreign policy. The authors have done a very impressive job." - Sanford Lakoff, University of California, San Diego  


"There has long been a need for a book like Challenges for America in the Middle East. The book has the distinction of presenting students with clear policy options, inviting them to debate and reason policy alternatives. Mansbach and Taylor are very knowledgeable in the subject and present their analysis with clarity and confidence." - Klejda Mulaj, Exeter University   


"Challenges for America in the Middle East has several strengths, including its fine detail, up-to-date information, and explanation of complicated processes and phenomena. It does a great job connecting issues addressed in the Middle East to conduct of U.S. Foreign policy. There is a market demand for a book of this kind, and I believe Mansbach and Taylor have filled it." - Ivan Dinev Ivanov, University of Cincinnati
Richard W. Mansbach - Iowa State University, USA

Kirsten L. Taylor - Berry College , USA