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Worldview

The end of America's Middle East moment?

From left: Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Obama, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah II before making statements on the Middle East peace negotiations in Washington, in September of 2010. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
 

The 2011 Arab Spring shook up the status quo in the Middle East and created an uncertain future for U.S. relations in that mostly unstable part of the world. Fawaz Gerges, a long-time Worldview guest and one of the world’s top Middle East scholars, delivers his full, sincere assessment of current U.S. relations with the region in his book, Obama and the Middle East: The End of America's Moment?

This latest book takes up the project Gerges touched upon in his previous book, The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda. (Listen to Gerges discuss the book with Worldview in this interview from last October.) As a leading authority on radical ideologies and Muslim extremism, Gerges argued that Western powers have become mired in a “terrorism narrative” that's detached from reality. This narrative, he says, perpetuates the false belief that Americans are in danger of another devastating attack by al Qaeda. Ten years out from 9/11, Gerges believes that politicians and special interests use Americans’ deep-rooted fear of terrorism to further their own agendas.

Now Gerges reaches back to the post-World War II era to explain the issues that challenge the U.S. in the Middle East. He examines the President Obama's responses, from negotiations with Israel and Palestine to the current drawdown from Afghanistan and withdrawal from Iraq and the recent U.S./NATO actions in Libya.

Ultimately, Gerges makes an argument that’s quite controversial – that President Obama’s administration marks the end of America’s “moment” in the Middle East, and that despite Obama’s efforts to limit the damage done by the Bush years and all that came before them, he might wind up being viewed as the “American Gorbachev” in the Middle East, presiding over the end of an empire.

Gerges joins us for the full hour Tuesday.

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