Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Ike's Gamble: America's Rise to Dominance in the Middle East

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Ike's Gamble: America's Rise to Dominance in the Middle East

Article excerpt

Ike's Gamble: America's Rise to Dominance in the Middle East. By Michael Doran. New York: Free Press, 2016. 320 pp. $28.

While some might consider Ike 's Gamble by Doran of the Hudson Institute mainly of antiquarian interest, this examination of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Middle East policy turns out to be both fascinating in itself and to have continuing relevance for U.S. foreign policy.

Eisenhower became president about the same time that Gamal Abdel Nasser came to power in Egypt. As the leader of pan-Arab nationalism, Nasser dominated the Middle East during the U.S. president's entire eight years in office. In light of their intense competition with the Soviet Union, U.S. leaders had a choice of two basic approaches to Nasser: build him up to win him over or treat him as an opponent to reduce his influence.

Focused primarily on finding allies against Moscow, Eisenhower and his secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, decided to woo Nasser; that is the gamble of the title. Doran follows this implausible effort in painful but nearly novelistic detail, revealing the full extent of its faulty premises, tactical blunders, and strategic errors. In brief, U.S. support turned Nasser into Egypt's dictator, a wildly popular panArab nationalist hero, an invaluable Soviet ally, and a global anti-American chieftain. …

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