Nation: In Search of a Policy for Now

As the Arab-Israeli conflict reverted to a war of words, Washington set out belatedly to formulate U.S. policy for a Middle East that had been transformed almost beyond recognition in a week of fighting. No fewer than four official panels, including a Cabinet-level subcommittee of the National Security Council, met daily to study the issues. To an astonishing degree, they were breaking fresh ground. For the fact is that until the crisis erupted, the U.S. had no Mideastern policy or contingency plan worthy of the name.

For six crucial months, beginning last October, the post of Assistant Secretary of State for Near...

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