It's Complicated: Dennis Ross's Doomed to Succeed

What makes Doomed to Succeed essential reading in our politically polarized climate is its explosion of the idea that the U.S. has had an unambivalent relationship with Israel. This idea seems firmly entrenched; after all, the conflict over land and statehood between the Palestinians and the Israelis has seen more ink spilled over it than the rivalry between the Gulf States and post-revolution Iran; the eight-year-long war between Iraq and Iran, which was the 20th century’s longest conventional conflict and cost a total of nearly a million lives by conservative estimates; or the equally enduring and equally thorny plight of the Kurds, which John Hannah spoke about in our November issue.

Ross’s book should help provide a much-needed perspective on this issue, one all the more important given the current conditions on the ground in the Middle East. The nuclear deal with Iran is coming into effect and altering the geopolitical balance in the region in ways that may well prompt major shifts in alliances. Indeed, Ross points out that the Arab states have responded far more negatively to the prospect of a nuclear Iran than the open secret of a widely-suspected-to-be-nuclear Israel.

Then there are the terror attacks by Palestinians against Israeli civilians that seem to bring out the worst instincts of the global community in victim-blaming, for which this book would serve in a clearer-eyed world as a corrective.

All of which suggests that as the current gap between Netanyahu and Obama looks set to widen into unbridgeability and as John Kerry implies that merely being a European Jew provides a “rationale” for Islamist atrocities, Ross’s book deserves a hearing. If the past is any kind of reliable prologue, however, a central message of Doomed to Succeed will sadly go unheeded.