As special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations under President Obama in 2013, Martin Indyk saw Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas repeatedly ignore or flat-out reject American entreaties; after nine months of negotiations, the disconnect was even greater. To gain a better understanding of America’s current place in Middle East peacemaking, Indyk looked to the origins of America’s efforts and to former secretary of state Henry Kissinger’s diplomacy in the region. In this discussion, Stefan Kornelius, Süddeutsche Zeitung, and Martin Indyk reflect on Master of the Game (Knopf, October 2021), Indyk’s offer of a provocative history of Kissinger’s diplomatic Middle East talks, illuminating the challenges and barriers he and his successors faced—from U.S. efforts to end the Yom Kippur War to Kissinger’s peace negotiations that laid the groundwork for the next fifty years of American regional diplomacy, from the manipulation and counter-manipulation of a roster of larger-than-life characters—Anwar Sadat, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, Hafez al-Assad to archival records and reflections upon his own diplomatic experiences in the Middle East. Kornelius and Indyk reflect on Kissinger’s design for Middle East diplomacy as it offers a key how—and how not—to make peace.
Martin Indyk is a Distinguished Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, assistant secretary of state for Near East Affairs, and special assistant to President Clinton. Previously, Indyk was executive vice president of the Brookings Institution, where he had also served as vice president and director of the Foreign Policy program and the founding director of its Center for Middle East Policy. He served as President Obama’s special envoy for the Israeli–Palestinian negotiations from July 2013 to June 2014.
Stefan Kornelius is the head of the politics department at Süddeutsche Zeitung. Previously, he was responsible for foreign policy and reported as a correspondent from Berlin, Washington, and Bonn. His biography of Angela Merkel has been translated into 13 languages.