RECOMMENDED READING FOR OBAMA…. The Washington Monthly has a feature in our new issue with book recommendations for the new president, with suggestions from some of our favorite writers and thinkers. We’re covering the recommendations in an ongoing series of posts, and here are the next two from our list.
I recommend the new president read (or reread) The Quiet American, by Graham Greene. He should do so to remind himself, when the clever, idealistic briefer comes to tell him about the “third way” that will produce a breakthrough in America’s tangled relations with the world, that we’ve been down this road again, and again, and again.
John B. Judis:
I would like to think of something soothing and medicinal, but here’s my dour choice: The Iron Wall, Avi Shlaim’s revisionist history of Israel and the Arab world, which appeared in 2001. President Obama is going to want to focus on reviving the American and world economy, but he is not going to be able to ignore the Middle East. And he would be wise to train his attention not just on Iraq and Iran, but on the continuing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Shlaim’s book makes a good case for an old lesson: that a balanced, evenhanded approach to the conflict, far from being “anti-Israel,” holds out the only hope for resolving the conflict, and that such a resolution is in the interests of the United States, the Palestinians, and the Israelis themselves.