The United States and the Middle East: A Search for New Perspectives

By Hooshang Amirahmadi | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East:
The Tragedy of Persistence

Richard Falk

In underlying respects, the U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East has been remarkably consistent since the end of World War II (after having been virtually nonexistent prior to 1945). One of the great shifts brought about by the war against fascism was to move, by stages, Western influence from its British and French locus to that of the United States and, for a period, but to a far lesser degree, to the Soviet Union. That is, a complex mixture of unipolar and bipolar geopolitics superceded the regional allocations of influence associated with the colonial period. With the ending of the Cold War, the Soviet influence has receded, leaving the United States the predominant extraregional influence in the Middle East, but also the object of acute enmity on the part of the peoples in the region.

This dynamic has climaxed in 1990 in reaction to Iraq's August 2 invasion of Kuwait, reinforced by a brutal occupation and accompanied by holding hostage thousands of Westerners. The United States responded immediately to the invasion, deploying major military forces in the region and by the demand for unconditional and total Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait. The United States also mobilized wider regional and global participation in the course of shaping a collective response to the invasion and skillfully achieved a strong mandate for its approach from the UN Security Council. As the postinvasion developments unfolded over the course of the next several months, it became increasingly evident that the outcome of the Persian Gulf Crisis would have pro

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