America is obsessed with finding answers and solving problems, yet Americans and American policy makers face an exceptional conundrum in the Middle East. Every U.S. president in the last two decades has been dragged into the quagmire called the Middle East peace process, yet the objective of Middle East peace remains elusive. The Peace Puzzle: America’s Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace has a very clear objective: to understand the U.S.’s objectives and policy and to try to develop a tactical strategy which will achieve those objectives.
It all began as a study group. The authors of this book were members of a working committee in a think tank that set out to create an effective practical paper that would impact policy. It took place in the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP). After the paper was completed, the authors expanded their study and turned it into this book. Over the course of the study, one hundred and twenty people were interviewed, and more subjects were included later to complete the book. The archives on the topics under examination for this study will be sealed for years, so the only way to access the material was through interviews.
Surprisingly, the authors of this work are both critical and supportive of the U.S. They never lose sight of their goal: to help understand policies and help the U.S. find the strategy that will move Israel and the Palestinians towards a peace agreement, getting both parties to the negotiating table and coaxing, cajoling, and, if need be, even bribing them to uphold the agreements that are made.