Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)
Long time US Middle East diplomat Martin Indyk has written an impressively researched and well-written homage to his larger-than-life role model, Henry Kissinger. There is no doubt that Kissinger mastered the ‘art of Middle East Diplomacy’. It is not surprising that, as someone who for decades was involved in trying to make diplomatic breakthroughs in the Middle East, Indyk admires Kissinger. He amply demonstrates how Kissinger worked tirelessly in 1973–75, despite opposition on most fronts, to secure breakthroughs on both the Golan and the Sinai front. Indyk also confirms that unlike what is all too often assumed, Kissinger clashed with Israeli leaders time and again, often because they had such narrow visions for what ensured Israeli security. Indyk, perhaps unintentionally, shows how we still suffer from Kissinger’s own strategic short-sightedness. Kissinger insisted that there was no real rush for Israel to negotiate with Jordan regarding the West Bank, and that if the US should push for such negotiations the purpose would only have been to avoid having to deal with the PLO. The refusal to accept that the Palestinians had any legitimate and independent national claims was not a Kissinger invention, but his (and Ford’s) promise to Israel to not diplomatically engage with the PLO put spokes in the wheels of any serious US attempt to deal with the core Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Indyk insists that this was not Kissinger’s blind spot, rather it reflected his strategic vision. It is also ironic that Indyk mocks Carter’s approach (1977–79) when his was the only US diplomatic endeavor to lead to a peace agreement in the Middle East until the 1994 Israel-Jordan agreement.