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Obama and the Middle East: the end of America's moment?

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Fawaz A Gerges
Palgrave Macmillan (14 June 2012)

During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to distance the United States from the neoconservative foreign policy legacy of his predecessor, George W. Bush, and usher in a new era of a global, interconnected world. More than two years have passed since his inauguration, and the reality of President Obama's approach is in stark contrast to the ebullient and optimistic image that he originally built up. In fact, Obama is not committed to redefining U.S. foreign policy in a transformational way, but calibrating and correcting the Bush policies, and reclaiming the neorealist approach that defined America's foreign policy since WWII.

Taking stock of Obama's first two and a half years in the White House, this book places his engagement in the Middle East within the broader context of U.S. foreign policy since 9/11 and examines key areas that have posed a challenge to his administration: negotiation with Israel and Palestine, troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan, engagement with the Arab Spring, intervention in Libya, and the death of Osama bin Laden.

  • Professor Fawaz A Gerges is professor of middle eastern politics and international relations at LSE. He also holds the Emirates Chair of the Contemporary Middle East and is the director of the Middle East Centre at LSE.

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'There can be few more authoritative and engaging commentators than Fawaz Gerges...'
Times Higher Education

"Fawaz Gerges has written a provocative book that should make Americans think carefully about their country's role in the rapidly changing Middle East. He describes a largely dysfunctional policy-making apparatus dominated by poorly informed and often ideologically biased individuals. President Obama raised hopes in some quarters that he would recalibrate American policies in a constructive direction, but, on balance, he has failed to do so. This book deserves to be read in university classrooms and by those in the general public who care about the direction of American foreign policy."
William B. Quandt, professor of Politics, University of Virginia

"A penetrating study by one of the most influential writers on a most troubled region, one that shows every sign of becoming more troubled still in the future. But as Fawaz Gerges convincingly shows, the United States is highly unlikely to be a beneficiary. Indeed, in his view, the American 'moment' in the Middle East is fast coming to an end with potential consequences we can only yet dimly perceive. A must-read.'
Michael Cox, professor and co-director, IDEAS, The London School of Economics and Political Science

"Gerges lays out the problems from multiple viewpoints and establishes the points of greatest need. How Obama addresses the challenge to America's hegemony and whether he can stand up to political pressure from home will determine if this is truly the end of America's moment in the Middle East. An exceptional book that thoroughly scrutinizes the struggles of all the nations of the Middle East and doesn't hesitate to distribute blame where it's warranted."
Kirkus (starred review)

"Fawaz Gerges scrutinizes President Obama's Middle Eastern policy with the clinical accuracy and piercing insight of one of the leading authorities on the region. Distinguishing sweeping rhetoric from policy, he is compelling in demonstrating that while Obama has inherited reduced influence abroad and a rapidly changing landscape, American official attitudes towards Israel, local allies, and terrorism remain largely constant. In highlighting that Egypt, Iran, and Turkey provide both limitations on and opportunities for the United States in the region, he adds his informed and balanced judgment to critical foreign policy debates of the day."
James Piscatori, Durham University

"With characteristic and skillful gusto, Fawaz Gerges goes straight to the heart of the matter. Arguing that a supposedly transformational president has been anything but when it comes to US foreign policy in the Middle East, he lays out an ambitious strategy for navigating a region in tectonic flux. Essential reading for policymakers, pundits, and all students of the contemporary Middle East."
Peter Mandaville, author of Global Political Islam and director of the Ali Vural Ak Center for Islamic Studies, George Mason University

"Fawaz Gerges is one of the foremost scholars of Middle East politics and US foreign policy toward the region. Here he delivers a cogent analysis of Barack Obama's foreign policy toward the Middle East. Gerges's verdict is harsh: Obama has neither prioritized the region nor taken the necessary risks required to alter a flawed foreign policy. Obama has also squandered opportunities at a key moment in America's troubled relationship to this vitally important region: the beginning of the end of America's dominance of the Middle East. This is simply the best analysis of the Obama administration's foreign policy toward the region."
Samer Shehata, Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University


  Obama and the Middle East