The Road Ahead

The Road Ahead: Middle East Policy in the Bush Administration's Second Term

Edited by Flynt Leverett
Martin Indyk
Kenneth Pollack
James Steinberg
Shibley Telhami
Tamara Cofman Wittes
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 107
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  • Book Info
    The Road Ahead
    Book Description:

    The "war on terror" and the battle in Iraq provided the framework for George W. Bush's first term in office. As he embarked on a second term, the president reaffirmed his administration's commitment to a transformative Middle East agenda that now includes the challenges of promoting democracy, non-proliferation, and Israeli-Palestinian peace. The Saban Center at the Brookings Institution commissioned a group of its experts to critique the Bush administration's first-term performance and present alternative approaches for its second term. The Road Aheadcovers the full set of challenges confronting President Bush in his second term: from fighting Binladenism to promoting Arab reform; from achieving Middle East peace to saving Iraq; and from tackling Iran to engaging Syria and Saudi Arabia. The contributors argue that the Bush administration will need to develop an integrated Middle East strategy that improves the prospects for achieving a priority identified during the 2004 presidential campaign: strengthening alliances and utilizing them to ease the burden on American leadership. The Road Ahead provides the necessary elements for a genuinely integrated strategic framework that will help decisionmakers manage both the changes and the continuities in America's post-9/11 Middle East policy.

    Contributors: Martin Indyk, Flynt Leverett, Kenneth Pollack, James Steinberg, Shibley Telhami, and Tamara Cofman Wittes, all connected with the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution.

    A Saban Center Report

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-9780-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-II)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. III-III)
  3. About the Authors
    (pp. IV-VI)
  4. Introduction: Bush and the Middle East
    (pp. 1-12)
    Flynt Leverett

    Confronting a terrorist threat that struck the American homeland on September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush responded by laying out a bold foreign policy and national security strategy with few precedents in the modern record of American diplomacy. To deal with the threat of global terror, Bush did not explore a reconfiguration of the global balance of power, as, in very different ways, his father had at the end of the Cold War and Richard Nixon had in the early 1970s. Bush did not propose the creation of a new network of alliances, as Harry Truman did at the...

  5. Fighting Binladenism
    (pp. 13-20)
    Shibley Telhami and James Steinberg

    As the Bush Administration begins its second term, it faces the challenge of refocusing the global war on terror. The war on terror was originally presented, to American and foreign audiences, as the overarching framework for American foreign and national security policy in the post-9/11 world. However, as a conceptual and rhetorical device, it has become less useful (and potentially counterproductive) for this purpose as ever more diverse policy goals have been placed under its rubric and as its international legitimacy has declined following the intervention in Iraq. If these trends are not corrected in President Bush’s second term, there...

  6. Promoting Reform in the Arab World: A Sustainable Strategy
    (pp. 21-36)
    Tamara Cofman Wittes

    President Bush’s “forward strategy of freedom” was a bold restatement of American interests in the Arab Middle East, but it requires a bold and calculated restructuring of American policy to match. The question we face today is how to reorient our policy tools and our relationships with international and regional partners so as to institutionalize what is often described as a generational effort. Building a sustainable and successful policy requires finding an appropriate balance among our sometimes conflicting interests, setting priorities to help meet both urgent requirements of the war on terror as well as longer-term goals, and devising means...

  7. Achieving Middle East Peace
    (pp. 37-48)
    Martin Indyk

    Any discussion of what to do about the new sense of opportunity in Israeli-Palestinian relations has to start from acknowledging two contradictory realities. On the negative side of the ledger, the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians that has raged for the last four years, claiming over 3,000 Palestinian and 1,000 Israeli lives, has destroyed the Oslo process, much of the Palestinian Authority created by it, and the rest of the edifice of Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking that the United States helped so painstakingly to build over the previous twelve years. Consequently, the Palestinian leadership that is now emerging in the wake...

  8. Saving Iraq: A Plan For Winning the Peace in 2005
    (pp. 49-66)
    Kenneth M. Pollack

    At present, there is no American foreign policy effort in the Middle East—or perhaps in the world—more important than the reconstruction of Iraq. By toppling Saddam Hussein’s odious regime and liberating the Iraqi people from his tyranny, the United States took on responsibility for remaking one of the most important and divided Arab states, situated in the midst of one of the world’s most economically vital regions. For that reason, the United States cannot afford to fail in Iraq. Washington cannot risk the kind of instability in the Persian Gulf that would likely spread from the collapse of...

  9. Tackling Tehran
    (pp. 67-80)
    Kenneth M. Pollack

    During his initial term in office, President Bush paid little attention to Iran. True, there was considerable tacit cooperation between Washington and Tehran during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, where their mutual interests superseded other considerations. But throughout its first four years, the Bush Administration could not bring itself to decide on an approach to Iran—belligerent or benign—and then pursue it. Instead, the Administration formulated a series of ad hoc responses that did little more than push off the problem for another day.

    It is hard to blame the Administration too much for doing so. Iran today...

  10. Engaging Damascus
    (pp. 81-94)
    Flynt Leverett

    Over the course of successive administrations, Democratic and Republican, the United States has defined an ambitious policy agenda toward Syria. This agenda has had both negative and positive dimensions.

    On the negative side, Syria has long been engaged in behaviors that the United States considers threatening or offensive. These behaviors include virtually all of the post-Cold War “hot buttons”: support for terrorism, development of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) capabilities, maintenance of a hegemonic position in Lebanon, and (until 1997) involvement in narcotics trafficking. This long record makes Syria, in many ways, a paradigmatic “rogue regime.”

    On the positive side,...

  11. Reengaging Riyadh
    (pp. 95-106)
    Flynt Leverett

    The sixty-year strategic partnership between the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been one of the foundational pillars of America’s Middle East policy for a dozen presidential administrations of both parties. At present, though, that partnership is in trouble, as a consequence of developments on both sides of the relationship during the Bush Administration’s first term. If President Bush is not able to restore the U.S.-Saudi partnership, the chances for a substantial failure of American Middle East policy during his second term will increase significantly.

    Frequently described as resting on an “oil for security” bargain, the U.S.-Saudi...

  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 107-107)