Account of U.S. Presidents and the Middle East Details Inconsistent Policies and Influence of Foreign Leaders

Breaking News

American Presidents from Eisenhower to George W. Bush have sought to distinguish themselves from their predecessors with sudden shifts in Middle East policy and questionable strategies that have contributed to undermining American credibility in the region, according to a new book, "A World of Trouble," by veteran correspondent Patrick Tyler, a fellow of the National Security Archive at George Washington University.

Tyler's account begins with a raucous night of recriminations over George W. Bush's Middle East diplomacy by former CIA Director George Tenet, and then rewinds to the grand deception of Dwight Eisenhower by Britain, France and Israel, in the Suez Crisis. In bringing the narrative forward to the Iraq war and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict of today, Tyler gives the reader an intimate portrait of presidential decisions and the out-sized influence of White House aides and foreign leaders and their emissaries.

Hailed by Publisher's Weekly as a "riveting" history of American presidents and the Middle East and described by The Economist as a book that "reads almost like a thriller," Tyler's book (published by Farrar Straus & Giroux of New York) draws on two decades of reporting on the Middle East, dozens of interviews, oral histories and thousands of pages of recently declassified documents, including the National Security Archive's new release of the Henry Kissinger telephone conversations and the mandatory review release of Nixon administration files in late 2007. Highlights from the documents cited by Tyler are featured on the Archive's web site,, including:

* The private pleadings of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, who in June 1973 sought to convince President Nixon that war was coming in the Middle East and that the only way to avert it was by a robust diplomatic intervention by the superpowers. Nixon and Kissinger, fearing domestic blowback in the midst of the Watergate scandal, refused to be drawn in and war broke out four months later.

* The Reagan Diary entry that sheds light on how the White House and the Saudi royal family circumvented the law on presenting lavish gifts to the President, in this case, a pair of Arabian horses.

* The top-secret channel opened by the Nixon White House with the Shah of Iran to discuss "contingency" planning by the Iranian leader to seize Saudi Arabia and its oil resources in the event of a coup or an external assault on the Saudi kingdom.

* The confidential debate within the Nixon National Security Council on how to invent a claim of "Russian treachery" in order to justify the U.S. tilt toward Israel, and a massive resupply of its forces, during the 1973 October War.

* The CIA's confidential description of the internal pressures within the Israeli leadership that tipped the Jewish state toward a preemptive attack on the Egyptian army in Sinai after the closure of Israeli shipping lanes in the run-up to the the Six Day War.

comments powered by Disqus