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egyptian goddess View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote egyptian goddess Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: International Relations
    Posted: 25-Apr-2009 at 14:22
Hey all,
 
I need background information on the following topic. Please if it is possible could the discussion be strictly factual, without radical opinions.
 
 
What have America’s main interests in the Middle East since 1945 been? And how successful has Washington been in achieving them? Have American policies promoted stability in the region?
 
Thank you xx
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Apr-2009 at 15:42
America's main interests -
 
1)  Oil,
 
2)  A possible strategic base to secure American interest in the event of a political-military catastrophe.  Although not originally conceived as such, that is Israel...and the reason for long term US support.
 
How successful - Fairly successful overall, although there have been setbacks.
 
Promoting stability - That depends.  It is not always in the interests of great powers to promote stability.  Sometimes it is; sometimes not.
 
 


Edited by pikeshot1600 - 25-Apr-2009 at 15:43
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Apr-2009 at 15:48
The answers vary a bit with the period.
 
From 1947 at least to say the early 'seventies a major motive was completing the ring of encirclement around the USSR. Partly as a result the US did not favour Israel, which depended mostly on British and French help, and was internally very left-wing. That changed in the '60s, but I'll leave the internal politics in the US that led to the change to someone else.
 
From something like the 'seventies onward oil became much more important to the US, especially with the takeover of the industry in the middle East by local governments who up to then had been rather naively pliable, and therefore stabilisation of the oil market became paramount. The Israeli lobby in the US gradually strengthened from approximately the same point on, accelerated by the growth in power of fundamentalist religion, which helped turn the standard geopolitical clash between Israel and the surrounding Arab countries into a religious conflict between Israeli Judaists and Muslims in general.
 
In the first phase the US was on the whole successful, developing strong relations with Turkey and Iran, the traditionalist Arab monarchies, and even maintaining reasonable coexistence with the republican ones, notably Egypt, which never fell into the Soviet sphere of influence in the way that looked possible in the '50s.
 
On the oil front, once the pill of the revolution of the early '70s had been swallowed, the US (and the Western countries in general) were also successful in maintaining a stable situation, even though on a different plateau from before. Partly this was due to supporting relatively uncritically the regimes in power in the major producing countries (Saudi, the Gulf states, Iraq, Iran whatever their regimes); partly because those countries were hard.-headed enough to see that their interests lay best in the same direction. This last remained true even after the Iranian revolution and the arrival of a nominally anti-Western, anti-Sunni regime.
 
Support for Israel in particular has led to the US becoming pretty unpopular throughout the region, understandably, but in practice that didn't stop the US achieving its major aims.
 
In general therefore the Middle East was actually a pretty stable place for most of the second half of the 20th century, apart from the occasional short-lived Israeli-Arab war, and the longer Iran-Iraq conflict: basically a pretty pointless affair (though of course horrific as all major wars are for those actually involved).
 
With regard to stability it's worth noting that the map of the Middle East now is virtually unchanged from the end of 1948. Compare that for instance to eastern Europe, the Balkans and central Asia.
 
In the 21st century the situation has changed of course considerably, with the direct involvement of US and other Western forces in the area. It's harder to see though where that is going to lead. Offhand the problems further east in Pakistan/Afghanistan are considerably more worrying in their potential effect than those in what I would normally consider to be the Middle East.


Edited by gcle2003 - 25-Apr-2009 at 15:57
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Apr-2009 at 16:13
Gcle,
 
Good comments, but with one proviso:  The concept of strategic containment did not become hard policy really until after the Korean War.  The post WW II activity of the USSR in eastern Europe was expected, and had been acceded to at Yalta. 
 
The combination of Greece, Korea and Iran (1953) solidified the commitment to containment, although George Kennan's views were hijacked by the J. F. Dulles types.  The mid 50s rearming of Germany was something of a radical step in light of general strategic thinking about Europe as it was only 10 years earlier.
 
  


Edited by pikeshot1600 - 25-Apr-2009 at 16:15
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Apr-2009 at 18:33
Originally posted by pikeshot1600 pikeshot1600 wrote:

Gcle,
 
Good comments, but with one proviso:  The concept of strategic containment did not become hard policy really until after the Korean War. 
Agreed. CENTO and SEATO were both established after the War (partly as a result of it, as you mention later).
Quote
The post WW II activity of the USSR in eastern Europe was expected, and had been acceded to at Yalta. 
 
The combination of Greece, Korea and Iran (1953) solidified the commitment to containment, although George Kennan's views were hijacked by the J. F. Dulles types.  The mid 50s rearming of Germany was something of a radical step in light of general strategic thinking about Europe as it was only 10 years earlier.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote egyptian goddess Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Apr-2009 at 12:04

Hey gcle2003 and pikeshot1600 I appreciate the contribution, and I am beginning to gain the basic picture and background understanding of this topic.

So, in my preparations for this research assignment I came across some information, which if either one of you could further clarify/ simplify or synthesise- it would be greatly appreciated.

So basically the United States created a "security zone", which gave some middle eastern states security from Washington DC for a price: the creation of US military bases in these countries and the opening up of their markets to US firms. Also, I came across the initiation of the so called "Baghdad Pact"

my question to both of you is where would these things fit into answrering the above question?Confused
 
thanks for the help guys!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Apr-2009 at 12:46
The Baghdad Pact was the treaty that gave rise in 1955 to what I referred to as CENTO - the Central Treaty Organisation - which followed the creation of NATO (North Atlantic TO) in 1949 in the West and SEATO (South East Asia TO) set up by the Manila Pact in 1954. The motive for CENTO was not the protection of the Middle East from the US, but the protection of the member countries from Soviet expansion. The only Arab country to join was Iraq, the key local members apart from the UK and the US being Pakistan, Turkey and Iran. (The Soviets countered by helping the leftist secularised (more or less Ba'athist) Arab countries, especially Egypt and Syria).
 
I don't think there was any 'price' involved here: the pact served the mutual interests of all the countries concerned - at least their current regimes - militarily and economically. The US didn't join at first and in any case didn't get any bases in the area out of it, though it did through bilateral agreement with Pakistan operate U2 flights over the Soviet Union from Pakistan.
 
I don't in fact think there were any US military/naval bases in the Middle East prior to the Gulf War. That's why the UK base at Diego Garcia, much further south, was opened to US use.  The UK of course at the time still had Cyprus and Aden.
 
Nor am I aware - prior perhaps to the Iranian revolution - of any desire on the part of these countries to do other than trade with America. India at one time was placing restrictions on foreign companies doing business there (which is why IBM pulled out) but India isn't middle east.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote egyptian goddess Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Apr-2009 at 13:00
thanks gcle2003, I apologise I totally overlooked your point about CENTO, my mistake. That clarifies a lot.

Edited by egyptian goddess - 01-May-2009 at 02:21
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