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Indecision Points

Indecision Points: George W. Bush and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Daniel E. Zoughbie
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Indecision Points
    Book Description:

    Although George W. Bush memorably declared, "I'm the decider," as president he was remarkably indecisive when it came to U.S. policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His administration's policymaking featured an ongoing clash between moderate realists and conservative hard-liners inspired by right-wing religious ideas and a vision of democracy as cure-all. Riven by these competing agendas, the Bush administration vacillated between recognizing the Palestinian right to self-determination and embracing Israeli leaders who often chose war over negotiations. Through the years, the administration erratically adopted and discarded successive approaches to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The results of this irresolution included the stunning triumph of Hamas in the 2006 Palestinian elections, Israel's 2006 invasion of Lebanon, the 2008--2009 clash between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, and, in the end, virtually no diplomatic progress toward lasting peace. InIndecision Points, Daniel Zoughbie examines the major assumptions underpinning U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East during the Bush years. Was there one policy or two? Was the Bush administration truly serious about peace? In a compelling account, Zoughbie offers original insights into these and other important questions. Drawing on the auhtor's own interviews with forty-five global leaders, including Condoleezza Rice, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Kofi Annan, Colin Powell, Tom DeLay, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Richard Perle, Leon Panetta, Chuck Hagel, Shlomo Ben Ami, and Salam Fayyad,Indecision Pointsprovides the first comprehensive history of the Bush administration's attempt to reshape political order in a "New Middle East."

    eISBN: 978-0-262-32618-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. CHAPTER 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    One morning, as President George W. Bush awoke, he discovered that his signature foreign policy initiative had morphed into something horrible. The date was January 26, 2006, and it was a very bad morning indeed. As usual, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice awoke before 5:00 a.m. and started her morning exercise routine as she watched the news. Suddenly, the following story flashed on the screen: Hamas had won the Palestinian elections in a landslide victory. Strange. Her embassy staff in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem had not notified her of any major new developments. Why was she learning about this from...

  5. CHAPTER 2 A World Transformed
    (pp. 9-32)

    In the days leading up to Governor George W. Bush’s formal announcement that he would run for president, British Ambassador to the United States Christopher Meyer and his wife Catherine made a visit to Texas. Their intention was to meet with Bush to scope out the changing U.S. political terrain for the UK government. The Meyers were having a jolly conversation when all of a sudden Bush pulled out a piece of paper from his jacket and asked Meyer, “What do you think of this?” It contained a short stump speech on the special role of the United States to...

  6. CHAPTER 3 The Rose Garden and the Road Map
    (pp. 33-54)

    In mid-2002, the Bush administration’s inability to act decisively in the Israeli-Palestinian arena was damaging U.S. relationships with Arab allies. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Abdullah declined an invitation to the White House because the kingdom was experiencing an internal political crisis due to popular outrage over the deteriorating situation in the West Bank. Subsequently, Saudi Prince Bandar, a close friend of the Bush family, briefed the president at the White House for five hours. He told Bush that the continuing violence in the West Bank and perceptions of U.S. support for Israeli actions against civilians would fuel greater extremism, adding...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Politicide as Sequence
    (pp. 55-76)

    With the Iraq War on the horizon, the unattended tempest in Palestine raged on. Unmoved by the chaos, Bush remained steadfast in the belief that “an angel still rides in the whirlwind and directs [the] storm.”¹ In his January 2003 State of the Union Address, the president affirmed his grand vision to “defend the peace, and confound the designs of evil men.”² Borrowing words from a redemption hymn, Bush affirmed that there is “wonder-working power” in U.S. values and ideals.³ The United States is “called,” he declared, “to defend the safety of our people and the hopes of all mankind”...

  8. CHAPTER 5 The Lost Year
    (pp. 77-96)

    George W. Bush started off his second term much as he ended the first—by mixing and matching conservative utopian and moderate realist policies. Drawing from conservatives, Bush partially adhered to the sequence principle by focusing on democracy, but he did not demand the complete dismantling of militant organizations prior to elections. Drawing from moderates, he referred to the obligations of Israel under the Road Map, but did nothing to bring Sharon into compliance.

    On November 11, 2004, following Bush’s re-election victory, the ubiquitous Natan Sharansky was once again received at the White House by future Secretary of State Condoleezza...

  9. CHAPTER 6 A New Middle East
    (pp. 97-118)

    Prior to the Palestinian elections in January 2006, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice delivered a lecture on “transformational diplomacy,” a process that “not only reports about the world as it is, but seeks to change the world itself.” As democracy permeates a world in which “centuries of international precedent are being overturned,” she argued, a new diplomacy is required to “build a true form of global stability”—the proverbial “balance of power that favors freedom.” As Rice saw it, “security, development, and democracy were to be viewed as a single, immutable foreign policy package.” The traditional aims of statecraft...

  10. CHAPTER 7 A Requiem for Liberty
    (pp. 119-142)

    With six years of policy blowback, in 2007 George W. Bush looked to salvage his presidential legacy with a new team nearly cleansed of conservative figures. Democrats took over Congress, new Secretary of Defense Robert Gates took over the nation’s defense infrastructure, General David Petraeus spearheaded a new way forward in Iraq, and John Negroponte joined Condoleezza Rice at the State Department as her deputy secretary of state. In a reorganized administration, utopian goals of democratically transforming the Middle East were noticeably subdued and replaced with a much more realistic vision of, in Rice’s words, an “ongoing mutual effort to...

  11. CHAPTER 8 Conclusion
    (pp. 143-148)

    Whatever may come of the twenty-first century, September 11, 2001, will be marked as a day unlike any other. A seemingly stable world order was thrown into convulsions, transformed and transfixed in an instant by a stunning display of force executed not at the behest of a sovereign nation, but by a handful of deluded men seeking to disrupt U.S. global hegemony. In the drama that unfolded, the Al Qaeda provocation succeeded in drawing the world’s sole superpower into a fateful campaign that at first blush could have been mistaken for a religious crusade. In what came to be known...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 149-198)
    (pp. 199-212)
  14. List of Interviews
    (pp. 213-218)
    (pp. 219-220)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 221-228)
  17. List of Belfer Center Studies in International Affairs
    (pp. 229-231)
  18. About the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
    (pp. 232-232)