Support Any Friend

Support Any Friend : Kennedy's Middle East and the Making of the U.S.-Israel Alliance

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At the Cold War's height, John F. Kennedy set precedents that continue to shape America's encounter with the Middle East. Kennedy was the first president to make a major arms sale to Israel, the only president to push hard to deny Israel the atomic bomb, and the last president to reach out to the greatest champion of Arab nationalism, Egyptian President Jamal Abdul Nasser. Now Warren Bass takes readers inside the corridors of power to show how Kennedy's New Frontiersmen grappled with the Middle East. He explains why the fiery Nasser spurned Washington's overtures and stumbled into a Middle Eastern Vietnam. He shows how Israel persuaded the Kennedy administration to start arming the Jewish state. And he grippingly describes JFK's showdown with Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion over Israel's secret nuclear reactor. From the Oval Office to secret diplomatic missions to Cairo and Tel Aviv, Bass offers stunning new insights into the pivotal presidency that helped create the U.S.-Israel alliance and the modern Middle more

Product details

  • Paperback | 360 pages
  • 154 x 230 x 26mm | 521.64g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 8pp halftone plates, 1 map
  • 0195177509
  • 9780195177503
  • 1,445,661

About Warren Bass

Warren Bass serves on the professional staff of the 9/11 Commission. A former senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, his articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, The New Republic, and The Jerusalem Report. He lives in Washington, more

Review quote

"A gripping account of how a chilly U.S.-Israeli relationship was transformed during the Kennedy presidency into today's full-blown alliance. Bass illuminates Kennedy's chess-like efforts to adequately arm the Israelis and maintain rapport with the Arabs, while keeping the Soviets out, the Suez Canal open and the oil flowing. Kennedy masterfully managed the potential Middle East crises of his time. Only Israel among the regional players made the most of what America offered. Bass' elegantly written analysis is filled with insights that make this an important and exciting work of history."-James Hoge, editor of Foreign Affairs "Warren Bass is a wonderful writer with an eye for the telling quotation and perfect anecdote. The years he covers in this intelligent, engaging book are important and unexplored. His conclusions are clarifying and useful as we look at the Middle East today. All in all, this is a work of history that scholars, students, and citizens will greatly enjoy."-Fareed Zakaria, author of The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy At Home and Abroad "A first-rate book.... Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the roots of America's current ties to Israel and dilemmas in trying to resolve the tensions that plague the Middle East. General readers as well as specialists will enjoy and profit from this important study."-Robert Dallek, author of An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963 "Bass establishes his case that the Kennedy administration was 'the true origin of America's alliance' with Israel, illuminating in the process some new and humanizing facets of Kennedy's management style and rehabilitating the savvy and subtle leadership skills of Israeli prime minister Levi Eshkol, successor to the combative David Ben-Gurion."-Publishers Weekly "A Middle Eastern nation becomes a nuclear power and refuses to admit arms inspectors, an American president threatens intervention: news from today's headlines, now more than 40 years old.... Bass has several purposes here. First among them, he shows with admirable clarity just how keen a student and practitioner of foreign policy JFK truly was, and especially in contrast with his recent successors. As Bass writes, again with an eye to today's news, 'In the 1960s, at the height of the Cold War, the American electorate knew what it came to forget in the 1990s: that it could not afford ill-preparedness in its commander-in-chief.' Plus ca change.... A fine, well-constructed study."-Kirkus Reviews "Exceedingly well told.... [Bass] has written a superb book-one that a scholarly and more general audience will find fascinating and useful for understanding some of today's realities."-Dennis Ross, The Forward "With pungent detail, wise analysis, and vivid prose, Bass traces the series of diplomatic and military episodes that led Kennedy, initially very devoted to even-handedness in Middle East policy, to align firmly, if not uncritically, with Israel."-Sam Freedman, Jewish Book World "Bass's major contribution to our understanding of Kennedy and Israel is his deeply researched and dramatic telling of the Dimona confrontation. The French had helped Israel build the semi-secret nuclear reactor to produce electricity for water desalinization, which it indeed needed desperately. But when Kennedy became suspicious that Israel was also using Dimona to produce weapons-grade plutonium (which it was), he pushed for inspections of the reactor. Ben-Gurion resisted; Kennedy pushed harder.... Bass tells the little-known story of Kennedy and the Middle East with a sure hand."-Bostonia Magazine "Fascinating.... The strength of Support Any Friend rests on exhaustive research in government documents, numerous interviews with the important players, and one dramatic tape of a key meeting surreptitiously recorded by the President, filed at the Kennedy Library. Bass also has a gift for bringing the dry details of diplomacy to life.... Quite aside from the story it tells, Support Any Friend has the added virtue of underlining just how much has changed since the 1960s."-The New Leader "A generous introduction to the issues and events in lively prose, judiciously leavened with wryly humorous anecdotes.... An engaging book, thoroughly researched and lucidly argued, on a seminal moment in the making of one of America's most consequential alliances."-San Francisco Chronicle "Warren Bass's important and timely book Support Any Friend, written with candor and firmly rooted in primary sources, takes us back to the diplomacy of the 1960s, and to what he argues were the beginnings of today's extraordinarily intimate alliance between the two countries. It is in effect the story of how Israel and its American friends came to exercise a profound influence on American policy toward the Arab and Muslim world. Bass believes it all began with JFK. It is an interesting thesis and he argues it well."-Patrick Seale, The Nation "In his groundbreaking and engaging book, Warren Bass introduces us to a Kennedy whom few people in America and in the Middle East ever knew or even imagined existed. A fine and illuminating book that handsomely earns its place as a standard work for the study of America in the Middle East."-Michael Oren, New Republic "One of the many virtues of Warren Bass's Support Any Friend is its ability to strip away conventional wisdom and accreted knowledge and transport a reader vividly back to a time when the United States was by no means certain to become Israel's ally at the expense of the Arab world. With pungent detail, wise analysis and vivid prose, Bass traces the series of diplomacy and military episodes that led Kennedy, initially very devoted to evenhandedness in Middle East policy, to align firmly, if not uncritically, with Israel....The lasting impact on the Middle East of what brief time Kennedy had is inescapable to anyone reading Warren Bass's illuminating book."-The Jewish Book World "As Warren Bass writes in his informative new book on the Kennedy administration's Middle East policy, in the early 1960's, 'progressive, democratic Israel was still widely popular in liberal circles,' and some of this affection survived even the death of Israel's underdog status in the 1967 war."-The Weekly Standard "Thorough and fascinating.... The book may leave readers with two thoughts: the first, that enmities in the Middle East have cooled little 40 years hence; the second, that JFK, for the brevity of his time in office, really did make a tremendous difference in the world."-Christian Science Monitor "A major contribution to our understanding of the American imperium in Middle Eastern lands. The writing is superb and the scholarship really first class. This is the sort of book I would love to have my students read!"-Fouad Ajami "Stimulating and informative.... Based on deep research, well-weighed and important addition to our knowledge of a fraught subject."-Geoffrey Wheatcroft, Washington Post Book World "Surely the definitive account of John F. Kennedy's Israel policy. To provide perspective on the decisions of the Kennedy administration, Bass has done a tremendous amount of legwork, consulting archives in the United States and Israel to produce a lively narrative of how different U.S. presidents have had different attitudes towards Israel."-Jacob Heilbrunn, The Washington Monthly "A major contribution to the diplomatic history of a little understood period in American Middle East diplomacy. Bass captures the full flavor of the collision between abstract interests and flesh-and-blood personalities that makes international diplomacy so fascinating. This book will be riveting even for those who think they are not especially interested in the period or its problems.... 'Support Any Friend' uses much new documentary evidence, along with interviews and the requisite secondary studies, to advance our knowledge of a fascinating, indeed seminal, period."-Adam Garfinkle, The New York Times Book Reviewshow more

Rating details

22 ratings
3.95 out of 5 stars
5 27% (6)
4 45% (10)
3 23% (5)
2 5% (1)
1 0% (0)
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