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The US and Its Interventions in the Middle East. A Historical Perspective Part I: The Beginning

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posted on Aug, 26 2004 @ 04:24 AM
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The US has a lengthy history of trying to intervene in the Middle East. They have not always handled it well. In fact the US may have been responsable for the rise in Islamic Fundamentalism as far back as 1953.



After 70 years of broken Western promises regarding Arab independence, it should not be surprising that the West is viewed with suspicion and hostility by the populations (as opposed to some of the political regimes) of the Middle East.(3) The United States, as the heir to British imperialism in the region, has been a frequent object of suspicion. Since the end of World War II, the United States, like the European colonial powers before it, has been unable to resist becoming entangled in the region's political conflicts. Driven by a desire to keep the vast oil reserves in hands friendly to the United States, a wish to keep out potential rivals (such as the Soviet Union), opposition to neutrality in the cold war, and domestic political considerations, the United States has compiled a record of tragedy in the Middle East. The most recent part of that record, which includes U.S. alliances with Iraq to counter Iran and then with Iran and Syria to counter Iraq, illustrates a theme that has been played in Washington for the last 45 years.


So why all the interest in the ME? The simple answer to this question is Oil. The US became interested int eh ME in the 1920. Two US companies won the rights to explore Saudi in the 30's and found oil there in 1938.



Subsequently, as a result of cooperation between the U.S. government and several American oil companies, the United States replaced Great Britain as the chief Western power in the region. In Iran and Saudi Arabia, American gains were British (and French) losses. Originally, the dominant American oil interests had had limited access to Iraqi oil only (through the Iraq Petroleum Company, under the 1928 Red Line Agreement). In 1946, however, Standard Oil of New Jersey and Mobil Oil Corp., seeing the irresistible opportunities in Saudi Arabia, had the agreement voided. When the awakening countries of the Middle East asserted control over their oil resources, the United States found ways to protect its access to the oil. Nearly everything the United States has done in the Middle East can be understood as contributing to the protection of its long-term access to Middle Eastern oil and, through that control, Washington's claim to world leadership. The U.S. build-up of Israel and Iran as powerful gendarmeries beholden to the United States, and U.S. aid given to "moderate," pro-Western Arab regimes, such as those in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Jordan, were intended to keep the region in friendly hands. That was always the meaning of the term "regional stability."


The biggest threat to the the US's access to the oil was not so much the Soviet influence, but rather the rise of Arab and Irannian nationalism. A 1977 congressional report stated that "The most serious threats may emanate from internal changes in the gulf states". In this light, Washington has always taken seriously the threat that nationalism brings to the stabilty of the region.



The rise of Arab nationalism or Muslim fundamentalism, or any other force not sufficiently obeisant to U.S. interests, would threaten American economic and worldwide political leadership (and the profits of state-connected corporations). As Tucker wrote, "It is the Gulf that forms the indispen-sable key to the defense of the American global position." Thus, any challenge to U.S. hegemony had to be prevented or at least contained.As Secretary of State John Foster Dulles said privately during the Lebanese crisis in 1958, the United States "must regard Arab nationalism as a flood which is running strongly. We cannot successfully oppose it, but we could put sand bags around positions we must protect--the first group being Israel and Lebanon and the second being the oil positions around the Persian Gulf."


During the second world war, the oil reserves of the ME became more important as the US became concerned that its reserves were running out.



During the war the U.S. government and two American oil companies worked together to win concessions in Iran. That action brought the United States into rivalry with Great Britain and the Soviet Union, both of which had dominated Iran in the interwar period, though Reza Shah Pahlavi had succeeded in reducing foreign influence from its previous level. (Great Britain had its oil concession through the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company.) With the Soviets and the British occupying Iran and both favoring the decentralization of that country, the Tehran government sought to involve American oil interests as a way of enlisting U.S. support for Iran's security and stability. The U.S. government aided the companies, by providing facilities for transportation and communication along with other help, and dispatched advisers to the Iranian regime. In 1942 Wallace Murray, a State Department official involved in Near Eastern affairs, said, "We shall soon be in the position of actually 'running' Iran through an impressive body of American advisers." The relationship between the U.S. government and large American oil companies remained close throughout the war, despite differences over such issues as the government's part ownership of commercial enterprises. The oil companies and the State Department coordinated their efforts to ensure themselves a major role in the Middle East. One indication of that coordination was the appointment in 1941 of Max Thornburg as the State Department's petroleum adviser. The United States was a comparative latecomer to the region, but it intended to make up for lost time. Thornburg had been an official with the Bahrain Petroleum Company, a Middle Eastern subsidiary of Socal (Standard Oil of Cali-fornia) and Texaco. Throughout his government tenure, he maintained ties with the company and even collected a $29,000 annual salary from the oil company.


The US's position vis a vie oil can be found in a paper prepared in 1953 for the, Defense, Interior, and National Security Council, that states that "American oil operations are, for all practical purposes, instruments of our foreign policy." This is the attitude and guiding philosphy of US Foreign policy in the ME since the end of the second world war.

Next: Part II Interventions in ME Countries.




posted on Aug, 26 2004 @ 04:34 AM
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Well done FredT.

When involved in debates regarding the ME, I always end up asking the same question, "Why do terrorists feel compelled to do what they do?".

I'm hoping that what you write here will go some way to indicating those reasons.

Could you supply links to the sources of your quotes, please.

Keep posting.



posted on Aug, 26 2004 @ 04:41 AM
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Sorry, my bad

www.cato.org...

I also, am getting stuff from books at home too, but I found this article to be pretty good.



[edit on 26-8-2004 by FredT]



posted on Aug, 26 2004 @ 04:50 AM
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It's not just oil. It's also a geographically important area for trade and access. Israel's access to oil is also a huge factor, as is American-Israeli control of an area that's also important to China and Russia.

One of the reasons the US loved Razik Shah is because he granted us a lot of oil. One of the first acts of the revolutionists was to shut off the pipelines feeding Israel. American and Israeli support of the SAVAK and the Shah (Iranian Gestapo) I'm sure had nothing to do with this.
Blowback, indeed.



[edit on 26-8-2004 by taibunsuu]

[edit on 26-8-2004 by taibunsuu]



posted on Aug, 26 2004 @ 09:55 AM
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Originally posted by taibunsuu
It's not just oil. It's also a geographically important area for trade and access. Israel's access to oil is also a huge factor, as is American-Israeli control of an area that's also important to China and Russia. One of the reasons the US loved Razik Shah is because he granted us a lot of oil. One of the first acts of the revolutionists was to shut off the pipelines feeding Israel


Thats true as well, but as the article pointed out, if the ME main export was bannanas would we be as interested? Reza Shah was put in power by operation AJAX because of fears that Mossadeq would turn to the Soviets.
And the CIA felt he could be controlled. His son is still alive and vows to return one day. I don't think Isreal gets its oil directly from the Iranians but I may be wrong. You do pose an intersting question though. Were does Isreal get its oil from?



posted on Aug, 26 2004 @ 10:35 AM
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Originally posted by FredTI don't think Isreal gets its oil directly from the Iranians but I may be wrong. You do pose an intersting question though. Were does Isreal get its oil from?



They used to get oil from Iraq, the pipeline from Iraq to Israel was shut down in 1948 but they are looking at opening it back up since the overthrow of Saddam.
Up until the Iranian revolution in 1979, Israel got their oil from Iran.
They now get oil from Russia.

www.atimes.com...



posted on Aug, 26 2004 @ 01:05 PM
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Originally posted by AceOfBase
They used to get oil from Iraq, the pipeline from Iraq to Israel was shut down in 1948 but they are looking at opening it back up since the overthrow of Saddam.
Up until the Iranian revolution in 1979, Israel got their oil from Iran.
They now get oil from Russia.


Thats kind of interesting. Im going to take a look at Isreali oil consumption. I wonder if Bush is increasing the SPR to cover Isreal if they get cut off? I did not know about the pipeline, but they will have to refurbish it prior to use.



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