In 2009 The Publishing house of Blagoveshchensk State Pedagogical University has published D. V. Kuznetsov 's monograph "Problems of the Middle East and Public Opinion", in 2 parts. Part I - The Arab-Israeli conflict (366 p.), part II - The Iraqi crisis (440 p.).
The two-volume monograph analyzes two complex and still unresolved conflicts unfolding in the Middle East, the solution of which largely depends not only on regional players, but also on the efforts of the entire international community. The author chose an original and interesting, from a scientific point of view, approach to the study of the stated topic. The problems of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Iraq crisis analyzed through the prism of public opinion help to better understand the relationship between political decisions and public sentiment, which directly or indirectly determine the foreign and domestic policy objectives of both the direct participants in the conflict and the "sponsors" of the Middle East peace process.
The monograph presents a broad picture of public opinion in the countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America, the USA, Canada, Europe and Russia and reveals the limits of its influence on the foreign policy of specific countries that are somehow connected with the conflict.
I would especially like to mention the exhaustive chronological framework of both parts of the monograph. Thus, the author analyzes the dynamics of the Arab-Israeli conflict from its origins in 1948, and D. V. Kuznetsov quite reasonably examines the attitude of the world community to the Iraq crisis starting from the Kuwait crisis of 1990-1991. The author's merit is that he managed to include the most recent survey data in the monograph, that is, to bring the research to the final stage. from now on. Thus, readers are given a unique opportunity to follow the dynamics of public opinion in relation to the key phases of the Arab-Israeli confrontation and the Iraqi crisis in full and form a fairly clear picture.
Dmitry Kuznetsov notes that the results of public opinion polls generally confirm the trend that residents of Western, Eastern and Russian countries tend to prefer one of the two participants in the Arab-Israeli conflict. For example, Americans traditionally stand on the side of the State of Israel, representatives of Muslim states are critical of the policy of the United States and its allies, and the sympathies of Europeans are more balanced and are determined by a more thoughtful analysis of specific situations. Residents of Russia generally show much less interest in events taking place in the Middle East. The author explains this trend by saying that Russian society is extremely concerned with solving its own problems, especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union, rather than resolving conflicts that do not directly affect the Russian Federation.
Dmitry Kuznetsov accurately links the phenomenon of the "devilization" of the State of Israel, which has been unfolding over the past 10 to 15 years, with the fact that the Arab-Israeli conflict has been actively mediated over the past period. On the other hand, a similar trend is observed in relation to such Arab movements as Hamas and Hezbollah, which is primarily due to the fact that the media space is fully used by all parties to the Middle East conflict as an effective propaganda weapon and a lever of influence on public opinion.
The second part of the book, which focuses on the Iraq crisis, shows interesting changes in the dynamics of Western public attitudes, especially Americans, to what is happening in the Persian Gulf. If in 2003 the US public opinion fully supported the beginning of military operations against Iraq, then over time this situation has undergone significant transformations. "At present,"the author writes," for the vast majority of Americans, the war in Iraq represents perhaps the most serious mistake made by representatives of the George W. Bush administration."
In both the first and second parts of the study, D. V. Kuznetsov concludes that the persistent source of tension in the region associated with the conflicts under study, unfortunately, will continue in the future. For decades, regular military actions have only served to escalate conflicts and thus widen the "gap" between the warring parties, reinforcing public opinion that achieving peace between Arabs and Jews, as well as within Iraq, is becoming almost impossible. The author sees a way out of this situation only in finding a political solution and moving away from confrontational thinking.
The research will be extremely useful for students and teachers, specialists studying the history of international relations, political scientists and sociologists.
I. M. MOKHOVA, Candidate of Political Sciences
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