Doorstop book by Texas scholar suggests New Historians are bustin out all over

Check out Quicksand: America’s Pursuit of Power in the Middle East (Penguin) by Prof.Geoffrey Wawro of No. Texas State, just released last month. It is 700 pages of the most comprehensive look at US policy in the region going back to the beginning of the last century in which he devotes considerable space to the early Zionist movement, the birth of the state and the power of the lobby going back to Wilson. In his conclusion, Wawro writes that the US has to "break" a lance on behalf of the Palestinians expelled in 1948.

Break a lance? It seems to mean that the US must risk taking remedial action to make up for its "legitimizing"of Israel’s dispossession of the Palestinians in 1948. Wawro demonstrates an understanding of the history that motivates Israel’s actions and the reasoning behind them but does not excuse them.

His both fresh and fair treatment of the subject may be be a harbinger of an onrushing wave of America’s own "new historians" and reflects the ground breaking work of Mearsheimer and Walt whose book is one of its many references. Wawro had access to a number of heretofore unknown British and US military archives which makes this book invaluable to anyone seriously concerned with understanding the Middle East. I will be interviewing him on my radio program this Wednesday. What is interesting is that there are supporting blurbs by both Mearsheimer and Newt Gingrich on the dust jacket. I am sure that Newt didn’t read it because it isn’t kind to those who brought us both wars with Iraq. It is also interesting, thus far, that it is being ignored by the lobby and its stable of book reviewers, no doubt hoping that it will go away. 

Here’s a sample of his viewpoints in this March 24 article questioning the Israel-US relationship, No Better Friend?” America, Israel and the Occupied Territories.

Posted in Israel Lobby, Israel/Palestine, US Politics

{ 15 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. annie says:

    can we get a reminder on wednesday prior to your radioshow or do you do poscasts? this sound fascinating. texas? whodathunk?

  2. From Wawro’s March 24th article in News Portal:

    “Ford got tough, and Congress went limp, bowing under a barrage from AIPAC and warning Ford not to reassess. He didn’t. ”

    The Ford reassessment’s focus was the Egypt Israel negotiations regarding a partial pullback by Israel in the Sinai. Although Wawro’s assessment is that there was no reassessment, there in fact was an agreement between Israel and Egypt and the United States reached on September 4th of 1975. Since the goal of the reassessment was the reaching of such an agreement, one can interpret the reassessment as in fact taking place and succeeding. Certainly those who view/ed the reassessment as an end within itself would you view the reassessment as having never taken place.

    • The threatened goal of the resassessment speech was to demand that Israel pull back to the 1967 borders both Ford and Kissinger had been frustrated by Israeli intransigence in the form of its refusal to comply with prior agreements to pull back from areas of the Sinai that had been captured from Egypt. Intimidated by the letter signed by 76 senators Ford never made the speech. Since that time, Israel has been able to call on at least the same number of senators to threaten other presidents when, in what they perceived were the best interests of the US, they had the temerity to challenge Israel. They have already sent three such letters to Obama and his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, the last one telling her and by implication Obama, that differences between Israel and the US, when they arise, should be kept hidden from the public. What was hidden from the public, thanks to the Zionized nature of the mainstream media, was the fact that these letters, drafted by AIPAC, existed at all.

      • Kissinger was willing to work one step at a time. At the time Kissinger was negotiating a partial withdrawal. Israel did not wish to withdraw from the passes (Mitla and Gidi) and from the oil fields (abu Rodeis) and Kissinger demanded that they do so. If you have information to the contrary, could you site a source that says that Kissinger was trying to get Israel to withdraw to the 67 borders. (If the threat of the speech was in order to keep the negotiations moving in the required direction, then the threat of the speech succeeded.)

  3. potsherd says:

    He is pessimistic. He is probably right to be.

    As peace becomes accepted as impossible, the retrorevisionism is heating up.

  4. Queue says:

    You have a radio program? What is the url for the station and where can we download podcasts?

  5. It will be streaming on http://www.kzyx.org on Wed., March 26, from 9 to 10 AM (Pacific Time). It is not archived at the moment. The interview will begin at 9:20 following news and opinions much like I express here.

  6. Wot, not another 700 page book on America’s cock-ups in the Middle East? Does this fellow from No. Texas understand even a tiny bit of the mix between that shitty little Levantine country and it neighbours?

    I guarantee he couldn’t even distinguish between Lebanese falafel and houmous and the crap they sell in Israel, where both are said to have been invented.

    • Colin Murray says:

      It is an error to assume that someone is incompetent just because they work at a rural southern university. The days of the Ivy League schools having a monopoly on all the best talent are long over.

    • Believe me, from what I have read in the book, Wawro understands more than most about the differences, although his specialty has been European military history. And that he teaches at North Texas State would seem to put him safely away from the Israeli occupied centers of Harvard and Yale that have produced no history on the subject worthy of the name. Before you put the knock on Quicksand, I suggest you take a look at it. I don’t think knowing the difference between Lebanese and Israeli expropriated falafel is a relevant criteria.

      • MRW says:

        Richard, I ordered the book and spent the last three hours skimming parts before reading it in a couple of days. In the best Texas tradition, this man has unholstered his pistol on US missteps over Israel. He has a PhD in History from Yale, hosted many programs on the History Channel, and taught at the US Naval War College for years.

        He starts out with the standard DC approach to Israel, then appears to eviscerate it. But I need to read more.

      • droog says:

        I would have thought that European military history would be an ideal basis to start from. What we call International Law is what we get from the bloodsoaked history of Europeans at home and abroad, going back to 1550 when Bartolome de Las Casas got a king to consider ‘All the world is human’.
        link to bbc.co.uk
        We outlawed plunder and took all the fun out of the game with the Hague Conventions over a hundred years ago, as perpetrators we learn ( well some of us do ) that the basic morality we practice with our neighbours at home also applies to our moral practice between nations.
        Mr Wawro sound like someone with a good knowledge of the bloodprice paid for Law, I would also expect him to see the obvious parallels between the nature of the Old Empires and the repetition of many of the intrinsic failure modes by the American Imperium, I’m interested to see some feedback as I’m too lazy to read the book myself.

  7. Les says:

    A revealing point in the one negative review (of three) on Amazon is

    “And on the big things….”the Jews turned down the Peel Commission proposal for partition of Palestine in 1937″. While this is true, Wawro states it’s because the Jews would not compromise.
    What he leaves out is that the Peel commission only allowed the Jews the area immediately around Haifa and nothing more. Such a state would have never been viable.”

    Does that Amazon critic believe Palestinians are wrong to reject a state with borders that are not viable? I suspect not.