When President-elect Barack Obama assumes office in January, he will face a series of critical, complex and interrelated challenges in the Middle East. Each of these issues demands immediate attention: the ongoing war in Iraq; Iran’s regional and nuclear aspirations; the faltering Israeli-Palestinian peace process; and weak governments in Lebanon and Palestine.
Recognizing the critical nature of these challenges, the Council on Foreign Relations and the Saban Center at Brookings undertook an eighteen-month long effort to generate a new Mideast strategy, taking a fresh approach to longstanding policy challenges. The resulting policy recommendations are presented in a new book entitled, Restoring the Balance: A Middle East Strategy for the Next President. The recommendations were produced by a Brookings-CFR strategy group that was established in July 2007. For the first time in the two organizations’ histories, Brookings and CFR joined forces, bringing together their leading Middle East experts to focus on urgent policy questions. Over the course of the 18 months of research, the strategy group members conducted fact-finding meetings and consultations in the Middle East and the U.S., interviewing regional leaders as well as leading U.S. experts from the public and private sectors.
On December 2, Brookings hosted the authors of the book’s strategic overview chapter: Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass; Brookings’ Saban Center for Middle East Policy Director and project co-director Martin Indyk; and Council on Foreign Relations Director of Studies and project co-director Gary Samore. The discussion was moderated by David Gregory, NBC News Chief White House Correspondent and Host of MSNBC’s “1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”