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Brit-Am Book Evaluation.

The Strong Horse.
Power, Politics, and the Clash of Arab Civilizations, by Lee Smith, NY, USA, 2010.

Reviewed from a Brit-Am point of View.

Much of this work consists of personal anecdotes and impressions. The author apparently knows Arabic and spent much time in the Middle East meeting people there.
He presents a thesis and says he has proof for it but from an historical point of view he does not really elaborate on it. Neither does he explain the evidence he bases himself upon.
He seems instead to have relied more upon his own first-hand impressions. Some may consider this to be preferable. At all events the book is interesting and the points presented are worth noting.

Aspects of this work that particularly interested us include:

The idea of an Arab Nationalism is a Sunni Arab viewpoint.  It has been adopted in the US largely due to Saudi interest.
This attitude of the US is a continuation of that of the British before them.

The French took a different view and now the US may be drawing closer to it: The Middle East is comprised of a variety of different peoples and religious schools, e.g. Alawis, Berbers, Kurds, Maonites in Lebanon, etc.
Only 70% are Sunnis.
The Sunnis have ruled by violence, repression, and coercion for 1400 years.
The Middle East may be seen as one tribe (Sunnis) against the rest.
Fiction with the USA is an extension of this.
# The Arabs hate us not because of what we do or who we are but because of what we are not: Arabs. # (p.8).

Israel acts as an extension of  the US sometimes in accordance with the needs of US Arab allies.

In 1970 Israel saved Jordan from a Syrian takeover.
In 1981 Israel bombed the Iraq nuclear reactor.
In 1982 Israel,
# destroyed Syria's Soviet-made surface-to-air missile battery in Lebanon's Beka Vally - an event that reverberated throughout Moscow defense circles when they realized that Israel's U.S.-made technology was far superior to their systems. And hence some analysts believe this battle, effectively a  proxy war, was part of a "cascade of events" that led to the fall of the Soviet Union. To be sure there are other features that bind the U.S.-Israel relationship ....but for more than thirty-five years, the core of the relationship has been cold strategic calculation. # p.204

The author implies that the existence of Israel and Arab opposition to it forces the Arabs to depend on US good will. Only the US can influence Israel to give way to Arab wants.

The logic is that Israel is the strong horse therefore the Arabs oppose Israel.
The US is an even stronger horse but in order to first beat Israel the Arabs may use the USA.
The US can influence the Arabs both by posing Israel as a threat, using Israel as a tool on behalf of Arab interests, and/or by forcing Israel to compromise in order to strengthen US allies.
Israel is therefore a kind of barrier between the Arabs and the USA but Arab ultimate opposition to  the USA  cannot be changed.
This is our interpretation of what the book says.
We have concentrated on what concerns Israel since this is of interest to us. The author however places his emphasis on US versus Arab innate tensions in general.
Most of the book may be understood as proving the case made by the author through examples from history and his own personal experience.


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