In the 1997 movie Wag the Dog – cowritten by David Mamet and released just a month before the eruption of the Monica Lewinsky scandal – a Washington spin doctor played by Robert De Niro seeks to distract the public’s attention from a sexual scandal involving the president by inventing a war in Albania. The film opens with an explanatory panel:
Why does the dog wag its tail?
Because the dog is smarter than the tail.
If the tail were smarter, it would wag the dog.
It is Efraim Karsh’s contention in this lively if deeply flawed book that regional forces in the Middle East have long been the principal actors in influencing or determining events, despite claims made by many of these actors and their apologists that they are victims of imperial machinations. In promoting