We are in the main a devout and hospitable people. The Arabs are, if anything, even more so. We are roughly equal in numbers. Like us, Arabs come in all shapes, sizes, and skin and hair colors. We are each united not by our ethnicity but by the common languages and cultures that mark us as members of great nations that occupy wide swaths of the globe.
Americans, like Arabs, have a predominant religion — ours, various forms of Christianity, theirs, various tendencies of Islam — but both of us harbor substantial minorities who profess other Abrahamic faiths. With so much in common, we should be friends. For much of the brief history of our relationship, we have been. Anyone who cares about and follows US—Arab relations knows that they are now the worst they have ever been. In foreign policy, national interest is the measure of all things. The United States has important interests in West Asia and North Africa that ensure that our relations with the Arabs can have very large consequences for us.
These interests don't go away in response to events or shifting perceptions or changes of Administration in Washington. Let me enumerate six things that are, and will remain, at stake in our relations with the Arabs. Once the world's biggest oil exporter, we are now its biggest oil and gas importer. We complain a lot about the price of oil. But in practice we seem willing to pay whatever price is on the pump to be able to drive to our homes and shopping malls in the suburbs rather than walk or take public transport around our cities.
We depend on the global oil market for imports that meet two—thirds of our demand for petroleum products.
In turn, the global oil market depends, to a great and growing extent, on Arab oil. The Arabs now supply one—fourth of the world's oil; in a decade they will supply one—third. Switching from oil to gas is not a work—around. Arab countries already produce 35 percent of the world's traded gas. This percentage is set to double in the coming years. Arab countries hold 60 percent of the world's oil reserves.
The world — including the United States — is destined to become steadily more dependent on them for its energy supplies, not less.
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This gives the world an interest as energy gluttons, we in this country have a particular interest in expanded Arab oil production and exports to meet our energy needs, as well as those of large new consumers like China and India. That, in turn, gives us an interest in peace and stability in the Arab world. Consider, for example, the effects of the anarchy we have created in Iraq. Before our invasion, Iraq was a reliable supplier to the United States and other markets, with good prospects for expanding exports over time.
The fact that occupied Iraq is now an erratic supplier with very uncertain prospects is one of the reasons that the price of oil has risen to current levels. In addition to an interest in access to expanded Arab production of oil and gas, we have an obvious stake in avoiding disruption of their sales of these vital commodities abroad. While other interests may, on occasion, outweigh concerns about the general welfare of our country, it is clearly prudent to try to reduce the dangers of war in West Asia, and thereby to preclude a repeat of the sort of confrontation and resulting energy crisis that occurred during the Egyptian—Israeli war of Then, the sudden requirement to shore up Israel's war—making capacity provoked a retaliatory Arab oil embargo.
That hit us hard even though our economy was then only about half as dependent on imports as it is now. Second, we have acquired a clear national interest in achieving the peaceful integration of Israel into its region. Israel cannot hope to enjoy peaceful coexistence with its Arab and Muslim neighbors through endless military intimidation of them or their Palestinian kin.
Nor will the Arabs accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state in their midst if Israel rules its captive Arab population under the cruelties of martial law while highhandedly expanding its borders at Arab expense. Until it negotiates peace with the Palestinians, Israel will remain under siege and insecure.
After nearly sixty years of existence, the State of Israel is an established fact, but its future therefore remains precarious. Arab leaders now publicly acknowledge Israel's existence and express willingness to accept it, providing Israel ends its oppression of the Palestinians and halts its dispossession of them from their homes. But resentment and loathing of Israel among Arab publics has never been so intense. The result is constant low—intensity conflict, punctuated by occasional outbursts of large—scale warfare in which the United States is inevitably implicated.
The danger that conflict in the Holy Land will erupt into a global struggle between the supporters of Israel and its foes is also ever present. Meanwhile, without the personal security that only peace can provide, many of Israel's most productive Jewish inhabitants have begun openly to contemplate seeking peace and security by leaving the country to find new homes abroad.
It is entirely possible that, without peace, the Zionist experiment will wither away, leaving behind it only the bitter hatreds that it and the Arab reaction to it have engendered.
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As for the moral interests, there has often been a trade-off between moral aspirations and practical strategic realities, as shown by U. The best way to pursue these five goals — especially the first three — is a realist, balance-of-power policy, akin to the policy that the United States followed from to During this period, the United States acted as an "offshore balancer" in the region.
United States foreign policy in the Middle East - Wikipedia
It had close security ties to several countries and clear strategic interests, and the central U. So long as the Greater Middle East was divided into many separate powers, no one country could halt the flow of oil and most oil producers would have obvious incentives to sell it at the world market price. Accordingly, the country relied on local allies for the most part, and it kept its own military forces out of the region save for brief and rare moments.
Even after the Iranian revolution led to the creation of the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force, the United States kept those units over the horizon and only brought them into the region when the balance of power broke down. After , the United States departed from this strategy in two steps. First, it adopted the odd strategy of "dual containment": Instead of using Iraq and Iran to check each other, Washington took on the task of containing both.
Bush administration adopted the even more foolish strategy of "regional transformation," which led directly to the disastrous debacle in Iraq. Apart from the direct costs, extensive U. It helped fuel anti-American terrorism, and it gave some regional powers additional incentives to pursue weapons of mass destruction. Given these realities and the need to devote more strategic attention to Asia, the obvious solution for the United States is to return to its earlier strategy.
American Foreign Policy and the Arab World
This is now seen in some quarters as a "retreat" or a "withdrawal," and various U. We should not make too much of these self-serving complaints, in part because U. I refer, of course, to the mostly unconditional aid and support that the country gives to Israel and to a slightly lesser degree Saudi Arabia. One might also add Mubarak-era Egypt to that list. The underlying reasons for these "special relationships" vary, but overly intimate relations with these states have robbed U.
But the recurring tendency to demonize every one of these governments and to exaggerate their power has also made it harder to influence their conduct and to cooperate at those moments when interests aligned. The conclusion of an arms deal with the USSR in , however, had cooled the relationship between Cairo and Washington considerably, and the Dulles-Eisenhower decision to withdraw the offer to finance the Aswan High Dam in mid was a further blow to the chances of maintaining friendly ties.
Eisenhower's stand against the British, French, and Israeli attack on Egypt in October created a momentary sense of gratitude on the part of Nasser, but the subsequent development of the Eisenhower Doctrine, so clearly aimed at 'containing' Nasserism, undermined what little goodwill existed toward the United States in Cairo. Meanwhile, in Jordan nationalistic anti-government rioting broke out and the United States decided to send a battalion of marines to Lebanon in case of possibly having to intervene in Jordan later that year.
In the same year, the U. On September 17, , with U. The American interventions in the years before the Iranian revolution have all proven to be based in part on economic considerations, but more so have been influenced and led by the international Cold War context. Saudi Arabia and the United States are strategic allies,    but relations with the U.
The relations of the U. American policy has been instrumental in coordinating the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan. In recent times, political situations of both countries have been bracketed under a single theater of operations, denoted by the newly coined American term " AfPak.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Further information on Black September: Black September in Jordan. United States support for Iraq during the Iran—Iraq war.
Iran—Contra affair and Israel's role in the Iran—Iraq war. American-led intervention in Syria. Criticism of United States foreign policy. Retrieved 21 March Oxford University Press, p. The Soft Power of U. Public Diplomacy in the Middle East U. March "From free oil to 'freedom oil': John Murray Publishers Ltd p. A History of International Relations U.
The United States and Syria, —". Notes from the Minefield: Retrieved February 13, Castles Made of Sand: Thomas Dunne books MacMillan. Miles Copeland, formerly a CIA agent, has outlined how he and Stephen Meade backed Zaim, and American archival sources confirm that it was during this period that Meade established links with extremist right-wing elements of the Syrian army, who ultimately carried out the coup.
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