Jonathan Cook has emerged over the last few years as one of the best writers on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. This, his second book, reflects on the part that the Israeli State has played in the formulation of United States policy on Iraq in particular, and the larger Middle East in general (including Iran).
In a tightly written 150 pages, Cook gathers evidence from a wide variety of sources including the American and Israeli Governments as well as a variety of knowledgeable commentators. The most interesting source is the Israeli press, in particular the Hebrew press. It is a little known fact that the Hebrew editions of newspapers in Israel deal with Israeli foreign policy in a far franker way than the English editions of the same papers. This provides fertile ground for Cooks investigations into Israeli foreign policy and its relations with the United States, in particular the recently deceased Neo-Con administration of George W Bush.
It is evident that the Israeli state is quite happy to see its neighbouring Arab states fragmented along ethnic and religious lines, this was the policy that drove its invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the attack on Hizbollah in 2006. Voices within the foreign policy establishment of Israel and the U.S. hoped that the other communities within Lebanon would turn on the Shiite Hizbollah and blame them for the destruction that the Israelis rained on that country.
The debacle in Iraq is explicable in these terms, the U.S. support for militias on a communal basis, the still possible and probable split of Iraq into three parts: Sunni, Shiite and Kurd. The Israelis were extremely supportive of that invasion and Cook documents their involvement with policy formation in occupied Iraq. It also appears that the Israelis have been supporting and courting Kurdish forces in northern Iraq as well as eyeing the Kurdish minority (20% of population) in Syria.
Other issues covered by the book include relations between the Israeli Government and the neo-cons of the Bush administration, the excessive part played by the Military in Israeli "democracy" and how the long running occupation of Palestinian Territories has been affected by, and effected, recent developments. The situation regarding Iran, again in the news with regard to the Nuclear question, is also covered at some length. Given the amount of information the book contains it is somewhat surprising to consider the shortness of Cooks book.
This book exposes trends and thinking in the United States and Israel with regard to the States in the Middle East, and as such is a valuable, readable account that fills in many of the gaps in recent history and press reporting on these issues. Well recommended, as are his other two books Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish and Democratic State
and Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair