The United States has long sought to promote a lasting peace settlement between Israel and the Arab countries. That objective has outlived the Cold War, but the Middle East was a particular flashpoint during the Cold War because of the prospect that the two superpowers might become directly involved. Moreover, the Soviet Union's strong political and military backing for Arab governments often worked against U.S. efforts to broker a peace settlement. This essay reviews two recent books that trace the history of U.S. involvement in the Middle East after the creation of Israel in 1948. The Cold War accentuated a basic problem that has persisted after the Cold War; namely, that several of the leading parties to the conflict are less intent than the United States on achieving a durable peace settlement.

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