Master of the Game: Henry Kissinger and the Art of Middle East Diplomacy

Knopf. Oct. 2021. 688p. ISBN 9781101947548. $35. POL SCI
Indyk (Innocent Abroad; Bending History) reflects on Henry Kissinger’s diplomacy during the pivotal years (1973–77) of U.S.-led Middle East negotiations, which sought the absence of war rather than the mirage of peace. The study is enhanced by the author’s own Middle East credentials, as U.S. ambassador to Israel under Bill Clinton and envoy for Israeli–Palestinian negotiations under Barack Obama. He describes Kissinger’s strategic shuttle diplomacy among all the countries with stakes in the Middle East, and tells how the largely successful Kissinger constructed a delicate diplomatic path to equilibrium centered on legitimacy more than justice (in the manner achieved by the Congress of Vienna). Based on interviews, Kissinger’s papers, memoirs, and U.S. and Israeli archival documents, this study shows how the diplomat set a standard that motivated and mystified many of his successors. Indyk also frankly discusses the pros and cons of Kissinger’s being the first Jewish U.S. secretary of state. Few other books address Kissinger’s Middle East negotiations during these years, although Niall Ferguson’s two-volume authorized biography Kissinger does that and more
VERDICT Indyk’s reflective review of Kissinger’s Realpolitik negotiations can be a model for understanding how to subdue rather than settle international negotiations. Essential reading.
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