October 10, 2011 — The University of Virginia's Center for International Studies celebrated the move to its new home in Hotel A on the West Range Thursday with the first installment of a new faculty book launch series, featuring politics professor William Quandt.
On a lovely fall afternoon in the Pavilion I garden, Quandt, the Edward R. Stettinius Jr. Professor of Government and Foreign Affairs in the College of Arts & Sciences, discussed his new book, "Troubled Triangle: The United States, Turkey and Israel in the New Middle East."
He told a crowd of faculty, staff and students the book, published just two days prior, is a product of the center, because it is based on a conference that center research director Allen Lynch asked Quandt to host last spring.
"Allen approached me a year ago and said the center would like to sponsor a conference on some aspect of the Middle East," said Quandt, who has spent much of his diplomatic and academic career analyzing Arab-Israeli conflict. "I thought, 'How do you look at the Middle East through a different lens?' "
Having recently visited Turkey, Quandt decided to study how the United States, Turkey and Israel deal with one another.
The result was "The U.S.-Turkish-Israeli Strategic Triangle," an in-depth, daylong conference that drew from the expertise of scholars and policymakers from around the world.
"I invited a couple of Turkish scholars, a couple of Israelis, some Americans and one Iranian based here in the United States to prepare papers that have all now been collected into this volume," said Quandt, who also distilled the discussions from the conference for the book.
The volume examines why relations among the United States, Turkey and Israel are strained.
He said Turkey is "on a roll," and its economy "is probably the fastest-growing economy in the world right now."
As a result, "Turkey has begun looking around at its surrounding region, both as an arena for economic opportunity … and as a reason for them to exert political influence," a stance Quandt said has led to new tensions in the region.
He said the "complete collapse" of the Arab-Israeli peace process has also contributed to strained relations between Turkey and Israel. In 2008, Turkey was involved in peace negotiations that ultimately failed.
"The Turks felt that they had been used as a kind of disguise for what the real Israeli policy was: to prepare for the war in Gaza," Quandt said.
He also talked about the diminished U.S. influence in the region, saying Washington's efforts this summer to bring Turkey and Israel back together came to nothing. Raising his arm and holding his finger and thumb together, his said "The United States was 'this close' to getting the two sides to agree on a formula to restore kind of normal relations, and again, it failed."
He said that event demonstrates how "dug in" both sides are, and the Americans' limited ability to get the parties to change. Washington "cannot persuade the Israelis to stop settlements. We can't persuade the Turks to not do business with Iran," Quandt said. "The limits of American influence are manifest every time you look at the Middle East."
The book launch also served as a celebration for the Center for International Studies' move from Peyton House to Hotel A.
New Executive Vice President and Provost John D. Simon delivered welcoming remarks. He said the center is an "excellent example of how teaching, research, scholarship and service can be brought together for the greater good of our institution and, by extension, the world.
"I was told that 194 years ago today, in 1817, freemasons laid the cornerstone at Pavilion VII, marking the start of construction of the University," Simon said. "Celebrating the new home of the Center for International Studies is a wonderful way to mark this historic day."
The next book launch, featuring "Philanthropy in America: A History," by Commonwealth Professor of History Olivier Zunz, will take place Dec. 1 in Hotel A. Zunz participated in the center's conference last fall, "Civil Society, Philanthropy and Corporate Social Responsibility."