The main value of this comprehensive survey of USA involvement in the Middle East
is to show the colossal blunders that consecutive USA presidents have made in
President Eisenhower stood up against France, Britain and Israel when they invaded Egypt to seize the Suez Canal. Today it is hard to believe that the USA sided with the Arabs against its closest European allies. The USA prevailed and the invaders had to withdraw. However, the USA did not understand what had been going on behind the scenes: France had given Israel the nuclear bomb. The CIA informed the Eisenhower administration of the Israeli nuclear program in december 1960, and Eisenhower was gullable enough to believe Israel's prime minister David Ben-Gurion that the nuclear program was for peaceful purposes only. Israel's acquisition of nuclear capabilities dramatically altered the balance of power in the Middle East. Besides, to this day the Arabs are convinced that the USA connived to give Israel the bomb.
The USA miscalculated again in 1967 when Israel launched a massive attack against Egypt, Jordan and Syria. USA president Lyndon Johnson was not informed by Israel and did not see it coming. Again, USA intelligence agencies failed miserably. The result of that war was territorial expansion from the point of view of Israel but the advent of international terrorism from the point of view of the West. Palestinian attacks against Israeli targets throughout the West were the prologue to the anti-Western hyper-terrorism of later decades.
The USA miscalculated again in 1973. The Soviet Union was serious about negotiating a Middle Eastern settlement. If the two powers got together, Israel and the Arabs would have had to accept the terms of a peace agreement. Unfortunately, president of the USA was Richard Nixon, who was not only a crook but also an anti-communist paranoid. Worse: his secretary of state was Henry Kissinger. Kissinger decided to ignore the Soviet overture. Whether prompted by Soviet intelligence or not, Egypt attacked Israel in order to regain the territories lost in 1967. Some in the Nixon administration wisely advised against taking sides, after having refused to mediate peace, lest the Arabs would see the USA as a de facto ally of Israel. Needless to say the dumb couple (Nixon-Kissinger) decided to take Israel's side. Not only did this bring the world very near annihilation (the highest nuclear alert ever raised between the USA and the Soviet Union during the Cold War) but at the end of the war the Arabs considered the USA guilty and OPEC enacted the oil embargo that caused the first major oil crisis and a huge recession in the West. Last but not least, a golden chance to solve the Palestinian problem once and forever had been lost.
The USA later took credit for the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel, but that whole mediation could have been done when the Soviet Union proposed it. Even that peace agreement now looks pathetically short-sighted: Nixon and Kissinger made peace between Egypt and Israel ignoring that the peace agreement was about the Palestinian territories. The Palestinians were not part of the process. The Middle East, the USA and Israel have all paid a huge price for that omission, as hundreds of suicide bombers have killed thousands of Israelis, billions of dollars have been wasted in occupying Palestinian lands, and the practice of suicide bombing spread throughout the Islamic world.
Which brings to the next USA blunder. In 1980 the new USA president, Ronald Reagan, another man who rarely had a good idea (See The 13 most feared words in the English language), helped Saddam Hussein invade Iran, figuring that the mad Iraqi dictator would help the USA get rid of the Islamic regime that had just humiliated the USA. It turned out that Iran won the war, Iran became even more determined to fight the USA anywhere anytime anyhow, and Saddam Hussein went on to become one of the USA's nightmares.
Two years later Reagan decided to side with Israel when Israel invaded Lebanon. The result of that decision was the emergence of Hezbollah as a major military and political force in the Middle East (a force that did not exist before the invasion) and the alignment of Hezbollah with Syria and Iran. Over the next two decades that event would result in the strong influence that today Iran still exerts on Lebanon.
The latest and most spectacular blunder of USA policy in the Middle East has been the missing weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (which were the very reason that Bush II took the USA to war against Saddam Hussein). An even worse blunder (although of a different nature) was not to realize that removing the Taliban and Saddam Hussein from power while leaving the Syrian regime in power would simply help Iran (a fierce enemy of both Saddam Hussein and the Taliban) become the dominant power in the region.
The USA seems to be chronically unable to think things through when it comes to the Middle East. The book provides a credible explanation for why the USA behaves so clumsily in that region: too many special interests pressure Washington into too many different courses of action with too many restrictions. It is difficult to concentrate when you have the Oval Office continuously invaded by influential visitors representing powerful corporations who clamor for this or that policy.
The book also highlights how Israel managed to "use" the USA for its own purposes, often at the expense of the national interests of the USA (certainly at the expense of the USA's reputation in the Middle East).