News

January 19, 2009

Prof. Ilan Peleg Authors Book on Foreign Policy Under Bush

He is an expert on issues related to American foreign policy and international and ethnic conflict

The latest book by Ilan Peleg, Charles A. Dana Professor of Social Science, analyzes the challenges America will face moving forward after eight years under the Bush administration. The Legacy of George W. Bush’s Foreign Policy: Moving Beyond Neoconservatism will be released in February by Westview Press.

A frequent speaker on issues related to American foreign policy, international and ethnic conflict, and the Middle East, Peleg is editor-in-chief of the journal Israel Studies Forum. He is author of Begin’sForeign Policy, 1977-1983: Israel’s Turns to the Right (1987); Human Rights in the West Bank and Gaza (1995); and Democratizing the Hegemonic State: Political Transformation in the Age of Identity (2007). His 1995 book received the Choice Award for Excellence in Scholarship.

Peleg is the recipient of the College’s Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation Award for excellence in teaching and contributions to campus life, Marquis Distinguished Teaching Award, Mary Louise Van Artsdalen Prize for scholarly achievement, and Thomas Roy and Lura Forrest Jones Award for teaching and scholarship.

In the book, Peleg not only illuminates the missteps of the Bush administration but also identifies foreign policy priorities for the next president, arguing that the United States has run a greatly ineffective policy as a global leader. “In fact,” says Peleg, “under Bush the United States has lost status, prestige, standing, and credibility as never before.”

“Barack Obama’s election as the next president raises many questions about the future of America. The economy, healthcare, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the environmental challenge, Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the overall instability in the Middle East-the list of concerns today goes on and on. The specific international path President Obama will pursue remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: If America hopes to restore its legitimacy in the international arena, the Obama administration must work hard to pull the country out of the shadow of Bush’s neoconservative agenda which has been at the root of the President’s foreign policy,” says Peleg.

Peleg believes an essential part of reinventing America’s global image is a clear understanding of what he regards as Bush’s disastrous foreign policy. The book provides an incisive analysis of the complex factors underlying the Bush’s foreign policy (and the interaction between them): neoconservative ideology, real and perceived challenges to U.S. world supremacy, Bush’s personality, the White House’s unique decision-making process, and the impact of the traumatic events of Sept. 11, 2001.

The last section of the six-chapter book offers a series of recommendations for future administrations, including the reestablishment of a bipartisan consensus on foreign policy, increased emphasis on multilateralism, the demilitarization of U.S. foreign policy, renewed focus on the resolution of serious regional conflicts, and more realistic expectations about non-coerced democratization around the world.

Scholars reviewing Peleg’s book have praised it enthusiastically. Robert O. Freedman of the Johns Hopkins University calls it “a stimulating analysis and critique of the neo-conservative ideology.” Others have found the book to be nuanced, detailed, and thorough. Noting the book’s “admirable lucidity,” Professor Jonathan Mendilow praises the volume as “pointing the way toward a reevaluation of U.S. foreign policy that is imperative if mistakes of the past are not to be repeated.”

“This is precisely the dual purpose of the book,” says Peleg, “to offer a comprehensive analysis of Bush’s foreign policy, and, on the basis of that analysis, to propose a new roadmap, a grand strategy for a wiser and more realistic policy for the next administration.

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