When Edward P. Djerejian arrived in Beirut for his first Foreign Service assignment, the city was a thriving metropolis, a nexus for a diversity of religious beliefs, political ideas, and cultural practices. More than forty years since, the broader Middle East region is undergoing significant change in the face of a deep-rooted con-frontation between the forces of reaction and modernity in the rapidly growing Muslim populations. Serious deficits in education, political participation, economic progress, and human rights are exacerbated by unresolved conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kashmir, and between Arabs and Israelis.
Djerejian, an American diplomat who served eight presidents, both Democratic and Republican, from John F. Kennedy to William Jefferson Clinton, publicly shares for the first time intimate details and colorful anecdotes of his service in the Middle East. During his tenure, he developed close professional relationships with many of the region's secular and religious leaders and was a key advisor to Washington's highest-ranking officials and political leaders. He was instrumental in formulating U.S. policy in the region, and participated actively in Arab-Israeli peace negotiations, the release of U.S. hostages in Lebanon, and the formation of the U.S.-led coalition against Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait.
A leading expert on the Middle East, Djerejian asserts that Americans are confronted with one of the most important challenges of our time: the struggle of ideas between the forces of extremism and moderation in the Arab and Muslim world. Mistakenly assuming that radical political ideologies fell with communism at the end of the Cold War, policy makers are employing insufficient strategies to promote the important political, economic, commercial, cultural, and security interests that the United States -- and the rest of the world -- have in the region.
Djerejian explains what has gone wrong with U.S. policy and suggests a way forward for future admin-istrations. The United States must learn to deal with the complex religious, ethnic, and cultural factors at play in the Middle East. We must not impose our own political structure on the Arab and Muslim world, but we can help marginalize the radicals and champion a democratic way of life in conformity with the cultural context of the region's own mainstream values and ideals. In his captivating and illuminating book -- the only one of its kind to address the full scope of issues that U.S. leaders face in the Middle East -- Djerejian outlines specific coherent strategies necessary to respond effectively to the imminent danger and dynamic opportunity presented by the struggle within the Islamic world.