The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy
April 2008: MORE Book Reviews
April 2008 Book Review - My vote for Pulitzer Prize in 2008.
John J. Mearsheimer (R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science and Program on International Security Policy - University of Chicago) and Stephen M. Walt (Professor of International Affairs - John F. Kennedy School of Government - Harvard University) should, in my opinion, be nominated for the Pulitzer prize in literature for this work. They won't be. Trust me.The Israel Lobby won't allow it.
For anyone who has an interest in Israeli-American relations, this book is now required reading. Furthermore, if you are interested in garnering a vastly greater understanding of the influence of special interest groups on the American political process, this book is a superb place to begin.
This book is controversial, not due to the positions the authors take or an imbalance in the way they delve into the issues, it is because the book is the most detailed and comprehensive look ever put in print regarding the genesis and current state of relations between the U.S. and Israel.
I found so many things so incredibly enlightening that I won't go into all of them here. One area that was terribly interesting is how right wing evangelicals in the U.S. have developed an intriguing, yet duplicitous relationship with Israel. There were also horrifying realities illuminated by the authors...realities some people would like us to forget or overlook.
However, this book contains incredibly important insights into the removing the obstacles that block the avenues for progress in establishing a legitimate homeland for the Palestinian people...a peace, a place and a possibility whose realization is illuminated more clearly by this work from John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt.
The most tremendous work I've ever been privileged to read on illuminating the "way ahead" for understanding both the current and future possibilities for U.S.- Israeli relations - and the fate of those who must have the courage to speak up for change to realize peace in the Middle East.
My vote for Pulitzer Prize in 2008.
Gandhi - A Life by Yogesh Chadha
April 2008 Book Review
After 500 pages of microscopic print and extraordinary detail characterizing the life and times of Mahatma Gandhi, I am truly delighted that I embarked on the adventure contained in this literary masterpiece.
This volume is a vastly more level-headed caricature of Gandhi, I am told. You get the distinct sense that this was a human being, not a saint as some have painted his life and being.
This is also a volume that takes one to the depths of issues like self-sacrifice, racism, conflict between people of different faith persuasions, oppression, the fight for freedom, transition, change, non-violence, the emergence of a nation (S.Africa, Pakistan and India) and death. The issues and the approaches to these issues are a pertinent today as they were during Gandhi's lifetime.
An arduous read for me, yet one I could not abandon. I urge you to do the same. Enjoy.
The Choice - Global Domination or Global Leadership by Zbigniew Brezinski
April 2008 Book Review
A tremendous treatise on the state and potential future of global strategic relationships. Brezinski is one I have always enjoyed listening to on Charlie Rose and other forums where the topic is the ever evolving intricacy of global relationships. Absolutely penetrating.
Brezinski says: “The appeal of an ideology comes not only from its vision of the future, but from its compelling myths about the present.”(p. 146). For public policy wonks or those fascinated by the intrigue of international relations (that would be me on both counts), I would encourage you to dive into this book. Few have the practical experience and intellectual prowess of Brezinski. Yet, his writing style and use of language is accessible to all. This book covers virtually every major nation-state player, the present state of each, and innumerable scenarios about how the future may unfold --- and the implications for the U.S. role in the same.
Brezinski’s insights into globalization were particularly poignant for me: “Globalization is a mixed blessing, and if American policymakers do not deliberately infuse it with politically evident moral content, focusing on the alleviation of the human condition, their uncritical embrace of it could backfire.” (pp.160-161). “The United states should treat globalization less as a gospel and more as an opportunity for the betterment of the human condition.” (p. 161). After having made these cautionary and hopeful remarks, Brezinski is a realist and fully appreciates that the way globalization is unfolding, it may be a function of guiding a phenomenon not necessarily under the control of any one nation-state, in terms of the actual form it takes --- and the collateral damage Brezinski so distinctly recognizes it has the capacity to create.
A great “background book” for those interested in strategic visioning of the future. I highly recommend it.
A Call For Heresy - Why Dissent Is Vital to Islam and America - by Anouar Majid
April 2008 Book Review
"Imagining the wider gate."
As professor and founding Chair of the Department of English at the University of New England, and the author of Postcolonial Islam in a Polycentric World, that was recommended as a book to understand the context of 9/11 by the American Association of University Professors, one might expect that A Call For Heresy may be a challenging, intellectual read. It was for this reader.
Although Majid states that “Sometimes all we need is a different perspective to untie knotty problems, loosen the climate of suspicion, and, if all works well, increase the possibilities for dialogue and thoughtful collective action. By looking at the fortunes of Muslim and American societies together, we may perhaps recognize the futility of armed conflict and consider solutions that address underlying causes, rather than exacerbate anger and confusion.” (Preface ix). Well, that’s a hope and a basis for inquiry that I’m willing to learn more about.
Majid’s insights on the role of religion as a component of the world’s challenges was expansive and deep. For example, “The supreme deity of the United States right now, the absolute and absolutist god that broaches no dissent, is not Jesus or his increasingly vociferous defenders, but capitalism. In fact, religious fundamentalism, as with all other forms of fundamentalism, doesn’t happen in a cultural vacuum, but emerges in response to a sense of threat to one’s being or core beliefs. Fundamentalism is often situational; it always expresses itself in relation to a contending force.”(p. 11).
Yet, beneath the blaring news blasts the clash between fundamentalists in a variety of cultures create, the voices and hearts of partisans who seek reconciliation, understanding and cooperation are drown out. In every society, this group of partisans is summarily marginalized by the mainstream ideologues and dogmatic believers. Majid’s suggestion? Encouraging freethinkers to speak up. “We need a healthy culture of freethinking, a tradition of heresy, or zandaqa, that would help the indoctrinated see past their convictions toward a future that opens the wider gate of the common good, not squeeze us through the tunnel of narrow interests and the end of life.” (p.49).
This book is a contemporary, intellectual treatise about hope. About the necessity to continue to think, speak and imagine an inquiry and dialog, that examines our respective traditions and reduces the “causes of conflict and violence and broaden the scope of tolerance and push it to include innovative thought without punishing humans for daring to imagine life-saving alternatives.”(p.49).
This book is a work of the heart of a freethinker, Anouar Majid, who is encouraging us to engage in the honorable, yet risky endeavor of creating the wider gate.
I was inspired, educated and enlightened by this book. I hope you will be too.