How did the US become a world power? How did it become involved in the Middle East? What is the history and nature of its 'special relationship' with Israel? Given the increase in tensions in the Middle East, and the United States' involvement in them, news coverage is in abundance. Yet, the reportage and discussion of American foreign policy is often narrow in scope, offering little background or context. The subject is routinely treated with the vocabulary provided by government officials, presenting best intentions while conceding occasional mistakes and unfortunate incidents. As Gregory Harms demonstrates in Straight Power Concepts, the historical record bears out a different vocabulary and tells a story that sharply contrasts with the common assumptions. In this brief and accessible account, the reader is guided through the panoramic sweep of world and American history, reviewing how the US became a world power, how the Middle East became 'modern' and how Israel became an American 'strategic asset.'
In so doing, the book provides a broad frame of reference, illustrating that recent developments are closer to business-as-usual and nothing resembling the rhetoric commonly used by heads of state, press secretaries, news media, and commentators. As in his highly successful book The Palestine-Israel Conflict, Harms makes complex subjects accessible to everyone, without sacrificing analytical rigour. This book should be the first port of call for students and anyone seeking clarity and a historical elucidation of current events involving the United States, Israel, and the Middle East.