Lost Years: Bush, Sharon and Fail­ure in the Mid­dle East

Mark Matthews
  • Review
By – March 9, 2012
Author Matthews, a long­time Mid­dle East cor­re­spon­dent for the Bal­ti­more Sun and the Wash­ing­ton Post, ana­lyzes events in the region dur­ing the George W. Bush years. This long, plod­ding nar­ra­tive is more sor­row­ful than angry in tone because of what might have been.” If only the Bush admin­is­tra­tion had con­tin­ued the Mid­dle East poli­cies of the first Pres­i­dent Bush and his Sec­re­tary of State James Bak­er! Sharon is por­trayed as bru­tal but ulti­mate­ly prag­mat­ic. Bush is fault­ed for ignor­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties that Sharon’s strength and prag­ma­tism pre­sent­ed. Matthews’ sym­pa­thies are with the diplo­mat­ic real­ists” and the State Depart­ment Ara­bists. His heroes are Bak­er, Brent Scow­croft, Richard Armitage, and James Wolfen­sohn. The ide­al­ists” and neo­cons” are his vil­lains. Matthews has a spe­cial fond­ness for West­ern-edu­cat­ed Mus­lim reform­ers,” be they Fatah or Hamas. The author strives to assure read­ers of his under­stand­ing of Jew­ish and Israeli his­to­ry and his even-hand­ed­ness, but is not con­vinc­ing. Matthews’ what might have been” amounts to putting pres­sure on Israel for uni­lat­er­al con­ces­sions to the Pales­tini­ans. Matthews con­cludes that the Pales­tini­ans have not been giv­en a chance to gov­ern, the lat­est slight being West­ern refusal to deal with Hamas in Gaza. This book of 400 plus pages includes charges that Col­in Pow­ell was fired; for this and oth­er sig­nif­i­cant state­ments, there are no foot­notes. The text quotes some named sources, but just as often, attri­bu­tion is to senior officials.”
Lib­by K. White is direc­tor of the Joseph Mey­er­hoff Library of Bal­ti­more Hebrew Uni­ver­si­ty in Bal­ti­more, MD and gen­er­al edi­tor of the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries Newsletter.

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