Sunday, April 13, 2008


In the second lecture you will follow the United States of America's role in the Middle East from the early contacts in 1917 and to Jimmy Carter's "rude awakening" in 1979. America has now taken over the role as the dominant force.

The first two lectures are done from the Western perspective, first Great Britain and now America. The reaction to the domination would lead to a collective identification as a form of nationalism and then to Islamism in politics. In lecture 2, Scott Powell starts out with repeating the five important milestones (1683 - Siege of Vienna, 1798 - Battle of the pyramids, 1839 - Westernization of the Ottoman Empire, and then the backlash with the nationalization of the Suez canal in 1956 and then culmination with the Iranian revolution in 1979.).

The main part of the lecture has the title, The Middle East as a means to American ends. Woodrow Wilson approves the Balfour Declaration in 1917. Americans discover oil in Saudi Arabia in 1933. [Editor's note: I wonder if the "lend-lease" Persian Corridor during 1941 - 1945 gave fuel for Iran's hostility against the Americans later on.]

The next part is called early cold war domination and started out with the Truman Doctrine in 1947. In my latest post on this course, I wondered why America forced Great Britain to back down regarding the control of the Suez canal. Now I understand that America's cold war problem with the communism threat did "collide" with Great Britain's wish of a strong presence in the area. The problem with using conflicts in the Middle East as strategic assets, is that you got an increased resentment towards the Western world and a new development into the Islamic entanglement. Jimmy Carter thought "Iran was an island of stability."

Harry Truman was an intricist, fighting the cold war and took Israel as an ally by default. Eisenhower was a pragmatist, using a "cost - benefit" calculation on the potential outcome. Johnson and Nixon thought they had the answer by doing a merger of two issues. Be a friend with Israel and at the same time giving arms to a future enemy, Iran.

Recommending reading by Scott Powell: A Concise History of the Middle East by Arthur Goldschmidt Jr.

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