The American Empire in the Middle East and North Africa: Another Chapter Finished!

Progress has been steady on my chapters on the American-Western empire following World War II to the early 1960s. The chapter on Latin America is of course finished, and I have just completed the chapter on the Middle East and North Africa, which was quite extensive. These chapters are both unpolished, unedited, and require a great deal of work in that regard, but that process comes later, for now, I am focused on the initial writing process: the first draft(s).

This chapter, however, stands at 84 pages single-spaced, or 103 including endnotes. So, it’s quite a big chapter (or a very short book), and will require extensive and effective editing when the time comes. But the meat of it is all there.

It includes: American imperial interest in the Middle East, as articulated by State Department strategists at the end of World War II; interest in the region for its oil resources; American negotiations in Saudi Arabia, replacing the British as the imperial protector; the Palestine question, the founding of Israel, and the ethnic cleansing and subsequent Arab invasion; the growth and nature of Arab nationalism; the coup in Iran; the rise of Nasser in Egypt; the U.S.-U.K. attempt to create a Middle East Command structure; the decline of the French Empire in North Africa, with the rise of American interests in Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria, with a focus on the Algerian war of independence against the French; the Suez Crisis, the Israeli-French-British invasion of Egypt and U.S. efforts to get them out; the Eisenhower Doctrine, the Syrian Crisis, and the U.S.-U.K. invasions and occupation of Lebanon and Jordan in 1958, the coup in Iraq; U.S. efforts at containing and confronting Egyptian influence and Pan-Arab nationalism in the Middle East, North Africa, and Northeast Africa through its support of Ethiopia; and finally, U.S. recognition of seeking to moderately work with Arab nationalism in order to prevent a greater geostrategic backlash against American imperial interests in the region and elsewhere.

A great deal of the research across all of these areas is drawn from the direct archives and declassified documents of the State Department, Defense Department, Joint Chiefs, White House, CIA, and National Security Council, so that the process, shaping, intentions and actions of empire are made clear “in their own words.” After reading the documents, and researching their implications in terms of the actions they led to, the ideas they espoused, and the officials involved, it is a stated fact that America is an empire, that it was designed to be so, and no claim of “accidental empire” or “benevolent empire” or “imperial denial” can stand up to the scrutiny of the official record. I, of course, include my interpretation in my research, but my interpretation is largely shaped by these and other official sources. Thus, I may state that the United States sought to support independence movements in the Arab world not because it felt sympathies for the colonized and dominated peoples of the world, but because it did not want to be too closely aligned with the formal European colonial empires which were so discredited following World War II, and in so doing, the U.S. could find a more subtle method of establishing imperial domination over the peoples of the “Third World.” Some may claim that this is “my” interpretation, and that there are others, and certainly that is true. However, this interpretation is shared by those who shaped U.S. policy itself, such as President Truman, Dean Acheson, John Foster Dulles, Eisenhower, Allen Dulles, and others. I just happen to be highly critical of it, whereas they advocated it.

I am looking forward to providing you with some research samples from this chapter soon, focusing on revealing insights drawn from official documents of the era, which occasionally are filled with profoundly important pieces of information largely overlooked by many scholars, historians and political commentators.

I would also like to remind my readers and supporters that I have launched the fundraising campaign for the next People’s Grant:

The new People’s GrantFebruary 23, 2012

Target Amount: $1,600

Amount Raised: $0.00

Objective: Completion of two chapters

Chapters: These two chapters, with a combined Grant of $1,600, will cover a historical analysis of the social construction of ‘race’, with the advent of the slave trade, plantation systems, and implementing racism as a concept of social control and domination; included is a history of poverty in the modern era, with the advent of social welfare programs implemented by states as a method of social control to protect against rebellion and revolution from below, but also to maintain low living standards of those in poverty in order to make permanent a dependent labour force; the abolition of slavery in the United States, leading to the Reconstruction period, and subsequently, the North-South ‘compact’ that followed which implemented a new form of slavery through criminalization, the prison system, and its use of prison labour; the relationship between poverty, labour, and race; the role of major foundations in managing the black population of the United States and elsewhere (establishing their educational systems, social welfare provisions, etc.); the poverty, resistance, and unrest which grew out of the Great Depression, and the subsequent social welfare programs implemented for the purpose of social control, as well as their implications for race relations at the time; the development of ghettos in the United States, the role of foundations and states in this process, in order to manage the migration of black Americans from the south to urban areas; the origins and development of the Civil Rights movement, its revolutionary potential and the role of foundations in preventing that potential from being reached; welfare, social services, and other state programs designed to manage the ‘poor’ and especially the black population of the United States; the “War on Poverty” (as a “War on the Poor”); the “crisis of democracy” that emerged in the 1970s as a result of what the Trilateral Commission called an “excess of democracy”, and the innovative methods of managing this: expansion of the prison system, Drug War legal discrimination against black Americans, increased prison labour, student debt, poverty management; and global implications of the race-poverty dichotomy: expansion of poverty in the ‘Third World’, effects of poverty, racial discrimination, origins and development of slums (global ghettos), etc.

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