A Path Out of the Desert by Kenneth M. Pollack
Kenneth Pollack, director of research at the Brookings Institution and the author of books like The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq (2002) and The Persian Puzzle: The Conflict Between Iran and America (2004), here tries his hand at a “grand strategy” for U.S. policy in the Middle East. This is, to say the least, an ambitious task. The priorities that drive American policy—promoting stability versus supporting democratization, for example—are often contradictory, and hence constantly in flux. Meanwhile, the sheer number of important relationships maintained by the U.S. in the region complicates any effort to forge diplomatic, financial, and military instruments into a comprehensive statecraft.
It is perhaps no wonder, then, that Pollack has composed a winding and often repetitive book that touches on virtually every major issue, but never in sufficient detail; that effectively delineates America’s core regional interests, but fails to acknowledge where they collide; and that promises a new set of principles, but ultimately falls back on well-established ideas that have been implemented inconsistently or ineffectually.
About the Author
Eric Trager is a Ph.D. student in political science at the University of Pennsylvania, where he focuses on the Middle East.