LOSING THE LONG GAME
The False Promise of Regime Change in the Middle East
By Philip H. Gordon
A History of America’s Efforts to Shield Itself From the World
By Charles A. Kupchan
Barring some variant of an “October surprise,” the upcoming presidential election seems unlikely to turn on questions of foreign policy. Not without reason, Americans are preoccupied with challenges here at home: the coronavirus pandemic, an economy in shambles and turmoil stemming from a reawakening to the persistence of endemic racism. Then there is the daily circus-cum-outrage of the Trump presidency. Given all of this domestic tumult, America’s role in the world figures as something of an afterthought.
It shouldn’t. Having made a hash of things over the last several decades, our self-described Indispensable Nation is looking pretty dispensable, not to mention confused and adrift. So there is a pressing need to understand how things went wrong and how to make them right. Each in different ways, this is the task that Philip H. Gordon and Charles A. Kupchan set for themselves.
Currently a senior fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations, Gordon belongs to that select circle of individuals who are well known and respected within the narrow world of policymakers though largely unknown beyond its confines, and his is a policymaker’s perspective. “Losing the Long Game” recounts American efforts over the past seven decades to get rid of annoying regimes in the greater Middle East and to install in their place something more to Washington’s liking. Gordon’s detailed and comprehensive narrative contains few if any revelations but his criticisms are devastating. He begins with the C.I.A.-engineered coup that overthrew Iran’s Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953 and concludes with unsuccessful efforts to mobilize proxy forces to oust Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. Sandwiched between are chapters devoted to Soviet-occupied Afghanistan, Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt and Libya.
Read the full article in The New York Times.