Click Here To Purchase Danger and Opportunity: An American Ambassador's Journey Through the Middle East

Author: Edward P. Djerejian
ISBN: 13: 978-1-4165-5493-6: 10: 1-4165-5493-9
Publisher: Threshold Editions: A Division of Simon & Schuster Inc

Edward P. Djerejian, author of An American Ambassador’s Journey Through The Middle East served both Democratic and Republican presidents under eight administrations from John F. Kennedy to William Jefferson Clinton.  In addition, Djerejian served as Ambassador to Syria and Israel and was the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs under Bush and Clinton.

Upon his departure from Israel, Yitzhak Rabin gave a most appropriate toast to him when he stated that he and his wife Leah regretted his short tenure in Israel (one year) and he went on to mention that never had there been an American diplomat who came to Israel after being the ambassador to Syria.

Reading Djerejian memoirs is like being a fly on the wall wherein we are privy to some very fascinating tidbits of information presented in the form of narratives and anecdotes pertaining to the various past and present important actors in the Middle East as Yitzhak Rabin, Yasir Arafat, Hafez al Asad, his son Bashar Asad and many others. It is an absorbing tale recreating years of experience as a diplomat narrated at a lively pace that serves as an excellent primer in understanding the complexities of the Middle East and the difficulties in achieving peace in the area.

In accordance with the author, the road to Arab-Israeli peace goes through Jerusalem and not through Baghdad or Tehran. Consequently, considerable ink is devoted to examining the subtleties among all of the players representing these regions. Fundamentally, direct face-to-face negotiations between Israel and its immediate neighbors- the Palestinians, Syria and Lebanon- are the key to peacemaking. As Djerejian informs us, he was brought up in a school of diplomacy that advocates negotiating differences and, when possible, seeking peace with one’s enemies.  Consequently, Djerejian believes that the most effective approach is to steer United States policy from conflict management to conflict resolution.  Furthermore, we are reminded that the realpolitk approach to foreign policy that prevailed during the Cold War was based largely on a balance-of-power considerations and is not sufficient to deal effectively and comprehensively with today’s realities.

Many of us ask what went wrong with America’s policy in the Arab and Muslim world? And this question leads to several others as why is America’s standing at such a low point in the area? Another important question is what can be done to strengthen the advance of democracy in the region?

How can we balance American values and national security issues in ways that truly reflect its strategic needs and concerns? These issues and several others are examined and enumerated in The Meridian House Speech that was delivered in Washington in 1992 by the author and which are further elaborated upon throughout the eleven chapters of the book.

Some of the interesting morsels candidly revealed by Djerejian were his meetings with Hafez al Asad of Syria who constantly ranted about the Sykes-Picot treaty whenever he met with him, although he was committed to negotiate for peace with Israel.  In 1916 there was a secret agreement between the governments of Britain and France with the assent of Imperial Russia, defining their respective spheres of influence and control after the expected downfall of the Ottoman Empire during World War I. It was largely a trade agreement with a large area set aside for indirect control through an Arab state or a confederation of Arab states. Another was when Yitzhak Rabin asserted that democracy in the Arab world is like waiting for the Messiah. The Palestinians first need the basic necessities of life-food, jobs, health services, education; then they can think about democracy. When Rabin received the UNESCO Peace Prize in Paris in July of 1994, he quoted the recently deceased president of the Ivory Coast, Félix Houphouët-Boigny, “let us proceed slowly, for we are in a hurry.” Various references to Iran and how to deal with the Iranians is another section evoking stimulating discussion.

Djerejian’s ability to blend what he saw and heard without preaching makes this a book that involves the reader totally. He has summarized an awesome amount of experiences as well as research, which along the way unearths countless anecdotal episodes underlying important events. Full portraits of some of the key players in the Middle East emerge including their personal feelings towards each other. If you are tired of being bombarded with shallow news bites that our media love to present pertaining to the Middle East, you will enjoy reading a refreshing take on the situation with Danger and Opportunity: An American Ambassador’s Journey Through The Middle East.

 Click Here To Purchase Danger and Opportunity: An American Ambassador's Journey Through the Middle East