Fine study of the USA's record in the Middle East since 1945,
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This review is from: Three Kings : The Rise of an American Empire in the Middle East After World War II (Paperback)
This splendid book helps us to understand the USA’s record in the Middle East since 1945. Lloyd C. Gardner is the Charles and Mary Beard Professor of History at Rutgers University and has written more than a dozen books, including recently, The long road to Baghdad. He sums up, “the United States had little interest in manifestations of self-determination that would challenge the vision of the American century.”
He observes, “The Truman Doctrine was the essential rubric under which the United States projected its power globally after World War Two.” It included ‘maneuvers to replace the British in the region of signal importance, the Middle East’.
As Gardner points out, “The speech Truman read to Congress on March 12, 1947, had been carefully crafted by White House and State Department ‘ghosts’, in part to remove sentences that referred directly to both the region’s proximity to the vast oil resources of the Middle East and the already growing U.S. stake in their exploitation.”
The author of the ‘containment’ doctrine, the US diplomat George Kennan, expounded the US ruling class’s view of all non-Western peoples, writing of “our inability to understand [he should, in all honesty, have stopped there] how profound, how irrational, and how erratic has been the reaction generally of the respective peoples to the ideas and impulses that have come to them from the West in recent decades. … To ascertain the reasons for the intensely anti-American attitudes manifested by these people would be to delve deeply into psychological reactions and the origins of various forms of neuroses.” Clearly, Kennan was also an amateur psychiatrist - a very amateur psychiatrist.
The idea that US government actions might have made people anti-American was beyond Kennan’s ability to understand. If in 1953 an Iranian government had overthrown the elected American government, Americans well have been just a little anti-Iranian.
Instead, the US and British governments ousted Iran’s popular, elected nationalist leader Mohammed Mossadeq, in a joint military coup. This provoked the Iranians to oust the Anglo-Iranian Oil Corporation. Similarly, the Anglo-French attack on Suez provoked the Iraqi people to overthrow their pro-British government.
The USA had begun its alliance with the Saudi autocracy in 1945. Eisenhower later wrote, “If we could build [King Saud] up as the individual to capture the imagination of the Arab world, Nasser would not last long.” But, oddly, they couldn’t make Saud popular, and Nasserism became ever more popular.
The US and British governments also tried to overthrow Syria’s government: “The CIA-MI6 plan to stage fake border incidents as an excuse for an invasion by Syria’s neighbors and to depose the government by ‘internal action’ failed …”
In sum, “Washington had succeeded in making it impossible – first in Iran, then in Egypt, and finally in Iraq – for change to come about without invoking the Cold War to sustain a counterrevolutionary ethos that created new crises by sowing the area with dragon’s teeth.” Indeed, the US government imposed counterrevolution across the Middle East. In the end, the counterrevolutionary Truman Doctrine produced its twin reaction, the forces of Al-Qaeda and ISIS. And the US-British wars caused the destruction of Iraq and Afghanistan.