Ethnic Groups and U.S. Foreign Policy

By Mohammed E. Ahrari | Go to book overview

1
Domestic Context of U.S. Foreign Policy Toward the Middle East

Mohammed E. Ahrari

U.S. Middle East policy is one of the few subjects of foreign policy in which domestic groups play a crucial role. Two such groups, the pro-Israeli and the pro-Arab groups, are the subject of this chapter. It is a well-known fact that, from the perspective of ethnic politics in America, these two groups lie at the two extremes of a continuum of power and influence. The pro-Israel groups are regarded as some of the most cohesive, articulate, influential, and powerful groups in America. Their power or influence quotient, an aggregate term that refers to the preceding characteristics, is measured by their ability to sustain in America a posture of strong support for Israel. American support for Israel is a matter of public record, both qualitatively and quantitatively, in the forms of strong political support and economic and military assistance since the creation of the Jewish state in 1948.

The pro-Arab groups, in stark contrast to their counterparts, are considered some of the least cohesive, least articulate, and weakest groups in America, i.e., groups with a low power or influence quotient. Their influence quotient is indicated by their continued inability to bring about any noticeable change in support of Arab causes in American foreign policy.

In the first part of this chapter, the strengths and weaknesses of supporters of both Israel and the Arab nations during the agenda-building phase will be identified. Following, the dynamics of the participation of these groups will be analyzed.

It is important to elaborate on the meanings of the following key terms that will be used in this study: U.S. Middle East policy, pro-Israel and pro-Arab groups, and the nature of the activities of these groups. U.S. Middle East policy is an aggregate term, which includes:

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