Sowing Crisis: The Cold War and American Dominance in the Middle East

Sowing Crisis: The Cold War and American Dominance in the Middle East

Sowing Crisis: The Cold War and American Dominance in the Middle East

Sowing Crisis: The Cold War and American Dominance in the Middle East

Synopsis

A lucid and provocative analysis of the legacy of the Cold War in the Middle East During the 45 years of the Cold War, policymakers from the United States and the Soviet Union vied for primacy in the Middle East. Their motives, long held by historians to have had an ideological thrust, were, in fact, to gain control over access to oil and claim geographic and strategic advantage. In his new book, Rashid Khalidi, considered the foremost U. S. historian of the Middle East, makes the compelling case that the dynamics that played out during the Cold War continue to exert a profound influence even decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The pattern of superpower intervention during the Cold War deeply affected and exacerbated regional and civil wars throughout the Middle East, and the carefully calculated maneuvers fueled by the fierce competition between the United States and the USSR actually provoked breakdowns in fragile democracies. To understand the momentous events that have occurred in the region over the last two decades-including two Gulf wars, the occupation of Iraq, and the rise of terrorism-we must, Khalidi argues, understand the crucial interplay of Cold War powers there from 1945 to 1990. Today, the legacy of the Cold War continues in American policies and approaches to the Middle East that have shifted from a deadly struggle against communism to a War on Terror, and from opposing the Evil Empire to targeting the Axis of Evil. The current U. S. deadlock with Iran and the upsurge of American-Russian tensions in the wake of the conflict in Georgia point to the continued centrality of the Middle East in American strategic attention. Today, with a new administration in Washington, understanding and managing the full impact of this dangerous legacy in order to move America toward a more constructive and peaceful engagement in this critical arena is of the utmost importance.

Excerpt

The Cold War and how it played out in the Middle East have fascinated me for many years. I began researching Soviet policy in the region in the mid-1970s, and soon afterward began teaching about Soviet and American Middle East policy at the American University of Beirut. Things looked quite different from the vantage point of Beirut than they appeared from either Moscow or Washington, or than they did in most of the scholarship on the Cold War. Being on the receiving end of the superpowerrs' policies and actions imparted to the latter an immediacy and vividness that they may not have otherwise had. At the same time, the realities of the regional situation looked quite different from a local perspective than they may have to superpower policymakers thousands of miles, and often a mental world, away. That was the germ of this book, the disjuncture between superpower and Middle Eastern perspectives, between the “metropolitan” and the “peripheral,” and it is also in some ways its justification. in the pages that follow, I examine the superpowers' four-and-a-half-decade-long contest over and in the Middle East, not just in terms of their perspectives and the documents they generated, but of how they affected the region. This book does not purport to be a comprehensive, primary-sourcebased history of the Cold War in the Middle East, although I was fortunate in being able to rely on valuable archival material unearthed from the old Soviet archives by the Cold War History Project, and from the American archives by the National Security Archive. Based on this and other documentation, the work of other scholars, and earlier research of my own, this book is . . .

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