The Superpowers and the Middle East

The Superpowers and the Middle East

The Superpowers and the Middle East

The Superpowers and the Middle East


Proceeding from the premise that preoccupation with the Cold War rivalry prevented both superpowers from adequately assessing the situation on the ground in the Middle East, Taylor analyzes the efforts made by the U.S. and the Soviet Union to gain political ascendancy in the area since 1945.


In Jonathan Swift classic, Gulliver's Travels, the hero's first visit is to Lilliput, where the inhabitants are barely six inches tall. Though the author uses this fantasy to satirize eighteenth- century European politics, it can be reinterpreted to have symbolic meaning in a number of modern contexts. Not the least of these is the subject of this book: the superpower rivalry in the Middle East.

Gulliver is washed ashore on the island of Lilliput after being shipwrecked. On regaining consciousness, he finds himself a captive of the Lilliputians, bound by a multitude of strings they had attached to him. An involved relationship with the miniature people follows, one not unlike the present-day superpower relationship with the Middle Eastern states.

Gulliver actually has the power to free himself and utterly destroy the Lilliputians, but decides instead to be deferential and accommodating. His captors accordingly treat him with suspicion and condescension. They initially consider putting him to death with poisoned arrows, but then decide in favor of confiscating his belongings and imposing strict conditions on his behavior. While he is in the process of signing various documents agreeing to their demands, he is astonished to learn that most of their domestic strife concerns absurd debates over the use of high and low heels and whether boiled eggs should be opened at the small or large end. He also discovers that they are at war with the rival empire of Blefuscu, a conflict so bitter that the Lilliputian government is intent on virtually enslaving the entire enemy population.

Finally, Gulliver is allowed to move about freely, but is obliged . . .

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