U.S. Foreign Policy and the Middle East Term Paper

Pages: 9 (3110 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 12  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: History - Israel

U.S. Foreign Policy and the Middle East

At the time of writing this report, U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East has taken a new twist. Israel has chosen to demolish all norms of the international laws in bombing civilian targets in Lebanon and the U.S. government in its hurry to dismantle the terrorist organizations of the Middle East has chosen to support all Israeli actions. Europe once again fears that support for such gross violation of human rights and international laws will only strengthen terrorism and will be detrimental to the Western interests in the region.

Even our staunchest ally in Europe, United Kingdom, is finding it hard to defend the U.S. support for Israeli actions. Most of our European allies appear to be unhappy with the 'disproportionate' use of force and fear that it would further destabilize the region. Lebanon's government at present is the most pro-American government of the country for the last 40 years and it would be difficult for Prime Minister, Mr. Sinorai's pro-U.S. government to survive once the present hostilities are over. United States has the fortune of having pro-U.S. governments in most of the Middle East; support of the people of the Arab world is another matter.

Strategic interests of the United States in the Middle East have molded the U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. The entire region has remained in turmoil due to the super power rivalry of the past and concerns for securing oil supplies from the Middle East.

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This report reviews the development of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and its impact on the region and overall U.S. foreign policy.

Beginning of Western Domination of the Middle East

TOPIC: Term Paper on U.S. Foreign Policy and the Middle East Assignment

The present dilemma of the Middle East and American interests in the region are a part of the Western domination of the region since the beginning of the 19th century. The present situation in the Middle East is an extension of the colonization of the region by the European powers. United States being an ally of Europe has inherited the influence and the power in the region from the colonizing powers of the 19th and 20th century. The U.S. foreign policy of the region cannot be understood without an understanding of the geopolitical formation of the present day Middle East.

The Ottoman Empire became weak by the beginning of the 19th century and the European powers already having a stranglehold financial interest in the region began to dominate the Middle East. The French annexed Algeria and Tunisia and exercised control over Lebanon and Syria. The British occupied Egypt and Persian Gulf. The Italian seized Libya and Dodecanese Islands in 1912. The Ottoman rulers remained weak and made the fatal mistake of siding with Germany and Austrian-Hungary Empire in World War-1.

As a part of defeating Ottoman rulers, the British used the differences in the Ottoman Empire by exploiting Arab nationalism and used ruler of Mecca, Sherif Hussein ibn Ali to create a revolt against the Ottomans in Arab areas, promising independence of Arab lands.

After the end of the World War-1, Britain and France divided the Middle East between them under a secret treaty. Britain promised the international Zionist movement full support for creating a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

The Middle East was split into various countries under the 'League of Nations Mandate'. Syria became a French protectorate, the Christian coastal areas were separated to become Lebanon, Iraq and Palestine became British mandated territories. The British installed Faisal, one of the sons of Sherif Hussein's as King of Iraq. Palestine was divided into two parts; eastern half became Transjordan as Kingdom for Abdullah, another son of Sherif Hussein. Eastern half was kept under direct British control and the Jewish population was allowed to increase under British protection. Another British ally Ibn Saud was allowed to gain control of the Arabian Peninsula to create the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia [Wikipedia, 2006].

During the Second World War, Hitler's atrocities against the Jews, created urgency for the Jewish land promised by the British in Balfour Declaration. Attempts to carve out a Zionist state in lands settled by Arabs for more than a thousand years created fierce Arab resistance. The struggle resulted in 1947 United Nations Plan to partition Palestine into a Jewish State and a Palestinian state. The Palestinians rejected this plan but the settlers declared the State of Israel in 1948. The Arab states intervening in the war were defeated. About 800,000 Palestinians were evicted or fled from the areas declared as Israeli territory and the refugee problem it created haunts the region and the world politics to this day.

Middle East and the Civil War

The end of the World War 2 and decline of the strength of the colonizing powers in the region brought the responsibility of safeguarding western interest on the United States. The virtual control of the Gulf by the U.S. is in effect transfer of control from Britain to the United States. Since the end of the Second World War, U.S. policy in the Middle East were greatly influenced by the Cold War conflict with the Soviet Union

United States chose to maintain status quo in the Arab countries and that has meant supporting the kings installed by Britain and stifling any attempt to modify the system to the democratic norms. The superpower politics and the Cold War meant that the United States rigorously pursued the policy of maintaining the status quo. Arab nationalists were viewed as challenging that order and a part of Soviet interference in the region. The strategic doctrines of the period concentrated on containing the Soviet influence in the Middle East [Yaqub, 2004]. The Eisenhower doctrine presented to the congress in 1957 specifically warned of the danger 'that stem from international communism' and promised to support any country of the Middle East threatened by international communism. United States saw the Soviet Union involvement in Egypt and other countries as a part of power politics. Eisenhower said," The reason for Russia's interest in the Middle East is solely that of power politics. Considering her announced purpose of 'Communizing' the world, it is easy to understand her hope of dominating the Middle East." The solution as Eisenhower saw was to "strengthen those countries, or groups of countries, which have governments manifestly dedicated to the preservation of independence and resistance to subversion [The Eisenhower Doctrine, 1957]"

The threat of communism and a desire to protect U.S. interest gave rise to the easy solution of continuing with the kingdoms and pro-U.S. Shahs, Kings and Emirs in the region. The non-representative government suppressed dissent of any kind with the excuse of resisting subversion by the regimes without any political support in their country. Throughout the Arab world (and Iran) U.S. policy created considerable resentment among the people.

Until the end of the Cold War, threat of Soviet influence in the region affected all subsequent 'doctrines'. Kennedy's threat of flexible response to Soviet intentions, Nixon-Kissinger doctrine of "strategic consensus" [Nixon, 1969]: shifting balance in the management of regional affairs to local surrogates, esp. Israel & Iran attempted to control local dissent presented as communist influence in the region. Nixon warned that, "The U.S. would view any effort by the Soviet Union to seek predominance in the Middle East as a matter of grave concern." Henry Kissinger called for the expulsion of Soviet personnel from Egypt in 1972 with which Soviet Union duly complied.

Foreign Policy and the U.S. Economic Interest

The discovery of oil in the Middle East in early 20th century gave the Middle East its importance and the history of turmoil and made it the center of international attention. Middle East has the largest known oil reserves in the world. The countries of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Iran and UAE have more oil than United States. This oil is also the most easily recoverable with an extraction cost of less than 20% of that of oil reserves such as Alaska. While Middle East oil accounts for less than 2% of U.S. investments, its share of total U.S. foreign earnings is about 33% [Aruri, 1997].

US Foreign policy in support of dynastic regimes has given the U.S. huge economic benefits. Middle East is the largest market of U.S. arms. In 1980, Middle East accounted for $40 billion of the $500 billion used on military spending. Tiny emirates spent billions on arms purchases from United States. After the first Gulf War, all of the expenses of the war were reimbursed to the United States by the countries of the Middle East notably Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The United States is the largest beneficiary of hundreds of billions of dollars development work involving industrial construction, infrastructure development and the status symbols being collected by the Arab countries.

The maintenance of status quo pledged in the succeeding doctrines has allowed the United States to maintain the most favorable economic climate for U.S. businesses in which the levels of U.S. economic penetration have been maintained and enhanced.

Most economic pundits… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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