U.S. and The Middle East

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The role of the Middle East has been very crucial to the United States, especially after WWII. The U.S. had three strategic goals in the Middle East and consistently followed them throughout various events that unfolded in the region. First, with the emergence of the cold war between the Soviet Union and the U.S., policymakers began to recognize the importance of the Middle East as a strategic area in containing Soviet influence. This also coincides with the U.S. becoming increasingly wary of Arab nationalism and the threat it posed to U.S. influence. Secondly, the emergence of the new Israeli state in 1948 further deepened U.S. policy and involvement in the region while also creating friction between the U.S. and Arab states which were becoming increasingly suspicious of U.S.- Israel ties. A third goal was the importance of Middle East oil, which made up a great portion of the world’s reserves. The U.S. recognized its importance especially after seeing the economic implications of WWII. Although all of these goals have had significant roles in U.S. relations with the Middle East, perhaps one of the biggest ones has been U.S. policy towards containing communism as well as Arab nationalism in the region. An example of how policy has come into play is during the American-Syrian crisis of 1957. The major driving force in this particular case was U.S. policy on containing Soviet influence in the region.

The crisis itself began in 1957 when the Syrian government revealed that it had uncovered a U.S. attempt to overthrow the Syrian government. This attempt, led by Eisenhower, was a result of U.S. fears that Syria was increasingly falling under Soviet influence. These fears came about from the fact that Syria was generally pro Ba’...

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...o-Western Iraqi government prompted Chamoun to seek U.S. help and intervention. The U.S. could not deny this request because to do so would have consequences for the West’s political and military influence in the region. Using the Eisenhower Doctrine, the United States landed its troops in Beirut. By doing so, the United States acted towards its own interests in the region and solidified its role in crushing Arab nationalism. This intervention also solidified the perception of the U.S. as being imperialists in the region. This crisis also had an affect on U.S. policy in that it reminded the U.S. government that it needed to pursue a campaign of “winning the hearts and minds” of the Arab people in order to maintain its strategic goals in the Middle East. Nevertheless, the 1958 crisis became a symbol of the conflict between the West and rising Arab nationalism.

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