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Martin Indyk says Kissinger’s Machiavellian tactics helped stabilize Israel, Mideast

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Martin Indyk has spent a significant part of his working life as a diplomatic mediator between Israel and the United States. Under the Clinton administration, Indyk served first as Middle East adviser at the National Security Council and then later as the US ambassador to Israel.

During US president Barack Obama’s second term, Indyk served as Washington’s special Middle East envoy for the resumption of Israel-Palestinian negotiations — and resigned after nine frustrating months of intransigent negotiations that went nowhere fast.

Standing witness to decades of dead-end talks with poor results has left Indyk introspectively pondering two important questions. Is Washington really capable of acting as a neutral arbitrator in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict? And, when trying to play the role of global policeman, would the US be better off taking a more even-handed approach to international diplomacy, especially in a region as volatile, unpredictable, and hostile as the Middle East?

While trying to figure out a plausible answer to both questions Indyk says he found himself harking back to successful American efforts to advance a peace process in the region five decades ago. At the helm of those diplomatic negotiations was the Machiavellian master of realpolitik, Dr. Henry Kissinger.

“If diplomacy is the art of moving political leaders to places they are reluctant to go, then Kissinger was the master of the game,” writes Indyk in the opening pages of his new, aptly-titled book, “Master of the Game: Henry Kissinger and the Art of Middle East Diplomacy.”

Under Richard Nixon, Kissinger served as both National Security Advisor and Secretary of State. Kissinger then continued as Secretary of State under Nixon’s successor, Gerald Ford.

Kissinger’s suave presentation of US foreign policy serving under the Nixon and Ford administrations turned him into a global celebrity. He was credited with a multitude of diplomatic achievements, including advocating the policy of détente, which saw the US developing cordial relations with the Soviet Union and China during a particularly hostile period of the Cold War.

Indyk, a distinguished fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, says that “for the four years that he was Secretary of State, Kissinger pretty much did nothing else but promote peace and order in the Middle East.”

But, he claims, Kissinger’s impressive record of Middle East peacemaking has been largely forgotten by most historians.

“So the book’s purpose is to really look at how he did it — not only as a historical study, but also for the lessons we can learn for how to make peace, and how to establish order in a region that is as troubled today — in different ways — as it was back then,” the 70-year-old seasoned diplomat and foreign relations analyst tells The Times of Israel from his home in New York.

The book begins when Kissinger was only two weeks into his stint as Secretary of State. Kissinger’s first major diplomatic test came on October 6, 1973, when Egyptian and Syrian forces launched a coordinated attack against Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. The two Arab nations were hoping to win back territory lost to Israel during the Six Day War in June 1967.

Then, on October 19, 1973, with the war still raging and Israeli forces threatening both Damascus and Cairo, Kissinger embarked on a mission to Moscow and Tel Aviv to negotiate the ceasefire that would end that war and launch a new role for the US as the broker of Arab-Israeli peace.

Indyk says Kissinger skillfully maneuvered to secure four ambitious and somewhat contradictory objectives simultaneously in........

© The Times of Israel

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