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The Lost Years: Bush, Sharon, and Failure in the Middle East
Synopses & Reviews
George W. Bush first met Ariel Sharon in 1998 on a fact-finding trip to Israel when he was governor of Texas and contemplating a run for the White House. From the memorable helicopter tour he gave the future president on that visit until he was incapacitated by a stroke seven years later, Sharon tried to enlist Bush in his dual strategies of quelling a Palestinian uprising and fixing the Jewish state's permanent borders. Bush met him part way but had his own bold ideas: a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a Middle East where democracy replaced tyranny. Neither leader grasped the essential first step toward achieving his vision: a process of tedious negotiation and mutual compromise between Israel and its longtime enemies. Lost Years describes how two risk-taking leaders worsened the Middle East situation by pursuing parallel preemptive wars that destabilized the region. Mark Matthews documents how a series of opportunities to stem the bitter conflict were allowed to lapse due to a combination of inattention, deliberate evasion, political pressure, and sheer blindness.
"'Matthews, who covered the Middle East for the Baltimore Sun, documents the changes that the rise of George W. Bush and Ariel Sharon brought to the American-Israeli relationship in this ambitious journalistic effort. As earlier prospects for negotiations with Palestinians receded into the background, the two leaders pursued ambitious, sometimes conflicting and ultimately ill-fated plans to advance their interests unilaterally, a development which, in Matthews's analysis, reduced the chances for peace. Quoting extensively from politicians, military personnel and others in the U.S., Israel, the Palestinian territories and international organizations, Matthews offers a balanced, if opinionated, view of the conflict and of the major personalities that have shaped it. While the author paints relatively sympathetic portraits of Bush and Sharon, he is far less sanguine about the causes they have chosen to endorse, deploring missed opportunities to implement a two-state solution. He particularly faults Bush's grandiose visions of regime change and democracy promotion for weakening America's hand. Though numerous details and anecdotes provide more padding than relevance, Matthews's account remains readable and offers much of interest to the student of Israeli or American politics. (Sept.)' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Mark Matthews, 55, is one of the most experienced and insightful journalists reporting on American policy in the Middle East today. He has covered the Arab-Israeli conflict for The Baltimore Sun for the past fifteen years and has earned a reputation for balanced, tough articles. During that period, he covered all the landmark events in Mideast diplomacy: the Madrid conference of 1991, the Yitzhak Rabin-Yasser Arafat handshake, the aftermath of Rabin's assassination, and the rise of the Intifada in 2000.
Matthews,entered journalism while a student at Antioch College, where he received a BA in 1973. He is the widower of Ann Devroy, White House correspondent for Gannett News Service and the Washington Post for more than a decade.
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