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As Barack Obama seeks to chart a new course in American foreign policy, one of the English language media's most respected authorities on the Arab world, David Gardner, addresses the controversial but urgent question: why is the Middle East so dysfunctional? And what can be done about it? Clear-sighted, never flinching from unpalatable truths, Gardner draws on his acute grasp of history and decades of experience covering the region to look at why conflict, despotism and sectarianism continue to flourish in the Arab world whilst as they decline everywhere else. The 'Middle East exception' is, he argues, a product of the West's own making. By supporting tyrants, fueling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and demonizing democratically elected Islamist parties, the West in general but specifically America has incubated a region inherently resistant to economic and political reform, and suppurating with resentment. As the Obama administration plans its Middle East policy, Gardner argues for nothing less than a total reappraisal of what realpolitik means. The traditional shibboleths: support Israel, mollify the Saudis, suppress Islamism, simply will not do in the 21st century, he argues. Both an introduction to the modern Middle East and an impassioned polemic, "Last Chance" is essential reading for anyone concerned with the future of the region. 'This book should be in the hand baggage of every one of President Obama's Middle East negotiators' - Jon Snow, Channel 4.
Praise For Last Chance: The Middle East In The Balance…
"David Gardner’s book is the most lively, well-informed and controversial overview of the Middle East to appear for several years. It will instruct, entertain, but also infuriate many readers, because his rapier thrusts invariably strike home. To understand this turbulent region, this is a must read. David Gardner is one of Britain’s leading foreign affairs experts. His sources are unique, his range awesome and his indictment of Arab tyranny and Western connivance devastating and unanswerable."-- Patrick Seale, author of Asad of Syria Having read this beautifully written, page-turner of a book, I find myself clinging desperately to a few shards of hope. We can; really we can." --Chris Patten, Financial Times
"At last, a book that goes to the heart of the eternal Middle East Crisis. David Gardner writes courageously and candidly of the West's 'support and indulgence' of corrupt Arab tyrannies, an indulgence that far from securing stability, breeds extremism. He also spells out how US and UK support for Israel has solidified even in the face of Israel's strengthening grip on the Palestinians and the occupied West Bank. This is a book that should be in the hand baggage of every one of President Obama's Middle East negotiators." -- Jon Snow, Channel Four News
"Timely, absorbing, and deeply disturbing...Last Chance is central to any understanding of the problems and prospects of the Middle East in the twenty-first century." --Avi Shlaim, Professor of International Relations, St. Antony's College, Oxford
"The basic message is clear and compelling. Stop propping up Arab autocrats, don't reject democratic election outcomes the West doesn't like, and don't retreat into any other form of 'shallow realism': just let Arabs decide their own future in whatever form they wish. Few observers of the region are more knowledgeable or experienced than David Gardner, and his book - lively, opinionated and immensely readable - is an overdue wake-up call for policymakers." -- Gareth Evans, President, International Crisis Group, and former Foreign Minister of Australia
"...in this short fine book, David Gardner makes the case that the clock is really running down. It is a fiery essay, but accurate and sincere." - James Buchan, Guardian
"...wide-ranging and provocative new book..." – Sholto Brynes, Independent on Sunday
"...unapologetically candid criticism of how poorly he [David Gardner] feels the Middle East is being run...the anger that flashes on every page of his polemic is born for a love of the Middle East..." - Alasdair Buchan, Diplomat
"...as much an introduction to the modern Middle East, looking at topics as varied as the advent of Islam and the Bushehr nuclear reactor, as it is a passionately argued polemic." - Fred Rhodes, Middle East
"Refreshingly, Gardner has no apparent axe to grind. If he paints a bleak picture and points a finger, it is because the reality is dismal and the accusation is deserved." --Tony Klug, Political Quarterly
I. B. Tauris & Company, 9781848850415, 229pp. Publication Date: March 30, 2009
About The Author
David Gardner is Chief Leader Writer and Associate Editor at the Financial Times. He was the paper s Middle East Editor from 1995-1999. In 2003 he won the David Watt prize for political journalism for his writing on the Arab world.