Several currents came together to shape my career as a political scientist with a special interest in the Middle East and in American foreign policy. The first involved two moments of living abroad at a formative time in my life. Then there were a number of fine academics at Stanford and MIT in the 1960s who showed me how to bring an analytical perspective to the study of politics. Finally, I had the chance to serve twice on the staff of the National Security Council in the 1970s, dealing with complex issues surrounding the Arab-Israeli conflict. Below I will briefly spell out how these three sets of experiences brought me to the point of seeing international diplomacy and politics as I do.