THE ARABS, ISRAELIS AND KISSINGER: A Secret History of American Diplomacy in the Middle East by Edward R. E. Sheehan
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THE ARABS, ISRAELIS AND KISSINGER: A Secret History of American Diplomacy in the Middle East

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KIRKUS REVIEW

When sections of this book by an associate of the Harvard Center for International Affairs appeared in the February issue of Foreign Policy, they caused a flap. On the basis of briefings from the State Department itself, Sheehan attacked the ""interim diplomacy"" of its Secretary. Unlike Matti Golan in The Secret Conversations of Henry Kissinger (p. 229), Sheehan does not simply compile evidence of HK's doubletalk; he quietly and informally--if not without a smirk--builds a case that HK has no strategy for his Mideast diplomacy ""beyond ambiguity, beyond rearrangements of the periphery in the here and now."" Moreover, Kissinger has systematically sabotaged openings for ""a swifter consummation of broader objectives in a general peace conference."" In the early 1970s, Sheehan writes, Kissinger undercut other Nixon plenipotentiaries' efforts to press Israel for concessions. After the 1973 October War, he began to cultivate Arabs, too, especially Egypt's Sadat. But he continued to forestall any attempt at an overall settlement--though other Establishment figures thought by 1976 that it was necessary to involve the Soviets and Western Europeans; a ""peace faction"" emerged in Israel; and an unofficial Egyptian proposal looked toward Israeli technology enriching the entire Mideast. The book repeatedly indicts Kissinger's refusal to address the Palestinian question directly. On Lebanon, there is nothing except a reference to Israel's ""barbarous"" air raids against Southern Lebanese refugee camps, and extensive descriptions of HK's special relationship with Lebanese Falange ally Assad of Syria, ""by far his favorite"" Arab leader. With a surprising absence of competition--bracketing George Bali's milder criticisms in Diplomacy in a Crowded World (p. 500)--this is the most extensive and critical case study to date of Kissinger's alleged combination of diplomatic ""massage"" with ""neglect, vapid promises, and dubious strategic conceptions.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1976
Publisher: Reader's Digest--dist. by T. Y. Crowell