How Eisenhower Tried and Failed to Gain Arab Good Will by Abandoning Israel

In his recent Ike’s Gamble: America’s Rise to Dominance in the Middle East, Michael Doran argues that Dwight D. Eisenhower’s relations with Egypt were based on a faulty assumption that restraining and forcing concessions from Britain, France, and Israel would win over Gamal Abdel Nasser, who would then serve as a secular, modernizing, anti-Communist ally for the U.S. This approach failed disastrously not—as generally held—because America carried it out incompletely but because it was simply wrongheaded. Adam Kirsch writes in his review:

The root of Eisenhower’s mistake, Doran argues, was to see the Arab world as a monolithic entity, with Nasser at its helm. In order to appear as an “honest broker” in the Middle East, Eisenhower distanced the U.S. from its traditional allies in order to accommodate Nasser, which he believed would win America the affection of the Arabs at large. What this failed to account for, Doran believes, is that the Arab world was itself riven by national enmities, power struggles, and ideological disagreements. . . .

Egypt’s rise meant trouble for Saudi Arabia, which since the days of FDR had been America’s most important Arab ally (and oil supplier). And it spelled disaster for Israel, which was later forced to fight much more serious wars against Egypt in 1967 and 1973. Neither the U.S. nor the region reaped any benefits from the Nasserist order that Eisenhower helped to sponsor. . . .

[Ike’s Gamble makes] an implicit but unmistakable argument about America’s Middle East policy today. Any reader . . . who is even a little familiar with the current situation will be able to draw the lines connecting Ike with Obama, and Egypt with Iran. Once again, Doran implies, an American president has fallen prey to the delusion that favoring one particular Muslim state is the same thing as being an honest broker with the Muslim world. And once again, this approach has succeeded only in emboldening America’s enemies and endangering its friends, especially Saudi Arabia and Israel. This makes Ike’s Gamble a timely intervention into current debates. Obama won’t read it, but Hillary Clinton should.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Barack Obama, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Gamal Abdel Nasser, History & Ideas, Middle East, Suez Crisis, US-Israel relations


How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus