Bridging the Gap between Rich and Poor: American Economic Development Policy toward the Arab East, 1942-1949

By Nathan Godfried | Go to book overview

4
America's Development Policy and the Arab East: 1942-1949

The assumptions, logic, and contradictions that characterized America's general Third world economic development policy also framed U.S. policy toward Arab East development. Prior to World War II, American leaders advocated an open door in the Middle East. But the government took little interest in the region's living standards or general economic growth.( 1) The presence of thousands of American military and civilian personnel in the region during the war, however, gave the United States a new perspective on the Arab East. Economic, political, and military officers stationed throughout the Middle East voiced an interest in the region's future development and its relations with the United States. America's unprecedented wartime penetration of daily Middle East life, combined with traditional interests (missionary and educational work, commerce, and especially oil production) and with general wartime goals (internationalizing American capitalism and corporatism) made the Middle East a vital area for the United States.( 2)

In April 1945, the interdepartmental Executive Committee on Economic Foreign Policy (ECEFP) approved a State Department policy paper on the Middle East. The April paper, originally drafted in the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs and the Office of International Trade Policy, ended a two-year discussion on American economic policy in the Middle East. Carried on by the middle and lower echelons of the State Department and by field personnel, the discussion touched issues such as America's general interests in the area, cooperation with Britain and the Soviet Union, trade and exchange problems, financial and technical aid, and economic development. The ECEFP report revealed the imperial state's desire for postwar American hegemony and, simultaneously, exposed the difficulties that the United States would face in creating and guiding a new international order.( 3)


1945 ZCBFP REPORT AND MIDDLE EAST DEVELOPMENT

Imperial state policymakers identified trade, oil, and strategic-political concerns as America's principal objectives in the Middle East. As in other areas of the world, American officials sought an open door and "dependable and friendly customers" in the Middle East. Policymakers also hoped to

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