The Arab World After 55 Years of the Eisenhower Doctrine

The United States first applied the Eisenhower doctrine in 1957 to protect Jordan from alleged aggression by Syria. Then came direct U.S. military intervention in Lebanon in 1958, and nine years later Washington openly endorsed the Israeli aggression against Arab countries.

It’s important for the United States to maintain and prop up its image by boosting economic ties and military-technical cooperation. On the one hand, it’s the pumping of money, the work of special services and the removal of disobedient regimes. On the other hand, it’s military pressure. This is precisely why the U.S. Navy has fleets in the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf. They already played a major role during the two Iraqi wars and during the events in Libya and remain an effective tool of U.S. diplomacy in the region.

The “Arab spring” has shown that the arsenal of weapons for toppling authoritarian rulers and energizing the opposition is constantly being improved and now includes the Internet and nongovernmental organizations financed from abroad.

The actions of the United States and its allies in Iraq and Libya have plunged those nations into chaos, putting them on the brink of collapse.

Ilya Kharlamov


Dwight D. Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles 1956

On March 9, 1957, the U.S. Congress passed a foreign policy bill aimed at bolstering America’s positions in the Middle East. The authors of the bill, which came to be known as the Eisenhower doctrine, were President Dwight Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. The doctrine envisaged U.S. economic and military aid to any Middle East country requesting assistance from “overt armed aggression” by any other state. By sanctioning U.S. military interference in regional affairs, it also sought to reduce the growing influence of the former Soviet Union in the Middle East.

The Eisenhower doctrine came in response to the British-French-Israeli aggression against Egypt over the destiny of the Suez Canal, one of the world’s key waterways. The USSR played an important role in the Suez crisis with then Soviet leader Nikita Krushchyov threatening Britain, France and Israel with tough action up to missile strikes, a scenario that might trigger a nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States, forcing the latter to intervene to protect their allies. Aware of the danger, Washington demanded an end to the tripartite aggression.

The Suez crisis prompted the Eisenhower Administration to revise its Middle East policy and push for creating a military foothold in the region. Tension between the White House and the Kremlin was escalating by the day.

Eisenhower vowed to send U.S. troops to protect the political independence of Middle East countries seeking help in resisting military aggression by any nation controlled by “international communism”.

Although formally not specifically targeting the USSR, the Eisenhower doctrine pointed out that Soviet Union had enough mineral resources of its own and therefore its economic interests in the oil-rich Middle East were minimal. It accused the Soviet Union of pursuing power politics and vying for supremacy over the important gateway between Eurasia and Africa, driven by a desire to communize the world.

It is that threat of global communization that Washington cited as an excuse for creating its own hegemony in the Middle East, openly interfering in regional affairs and actually guiding the foreign policy of its nations. The United States first applied the Eisenhower doctrine in 1957 to protect Jordan from alleged aggression by Syria. Then came direct U.S. military intervention in Lebanon in 1958, and nine years later Washington openly endorsed the Israeli aggression against Arab countries.

After the split of the Soviet Union, its main geopolitical counterweight, the United States moved to build up its influence in the Middle East, but, in the opinion of Andrei Volodin, the head of the Center for Eastern Studies at the Russian Diplomatic Academy, modern realities may force Washington to adjust its policy.

“Back then, it seemed that the United States had no obstacles whatsoever towards building a unipolar world, towards playing a dominant role in the Middle East, but now much has changed. The world itself has changed. A prominent American intellectual, Fareed Zakaria, has dubbed it a post-American world. The United States remains a superpower. But the world can no longer develop within the frames set by the United States. Washington now has to balance its interests against those of other countries. And it’s this change that will weigh upon the U.S. Middle East policy over the next decade. It will be a painful process of adjusting the American policy to new regional realities that are shaping themselves irrespective of Washington’s desire.”

The use of military force to export democracy to Arab countries in the spirit of the Eisenhower doctrine has, quite unexpectedly for Washington, resulted in power being seized by extremists. Often, U.S. calls for democratic reforms become a convenient cover for those seeking to topple moderate regimes as it happened in North Africa. Andrei Volodin.

“Interference in other countries’ affairs contradicts the UN Charter. What’s more, it contradicts common sense. The United States and its closest allies – France and Britain – are trying to impose a political system which is suitable to them in certain Middle East countries. But this practice is doomed to fail. We have all seen what’s happened to Libya and what kind of democracy it has now. I hope that things won’t work out the same way in Syria.”

Analyst Gumer Isayev of the Center for Middle East Studies is skeptical that Washington will abandon its push for global hegemony.

“It’s important for the United States to maintain and prop up its image by boosting economic ties and military-technical cooperation. On the one hand, it’s the pumping of money, the work of special services and the removal of disobedient regimes. On the other hand, it’s military pressure. This is precisely why the U.S. Navy has fleets in the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf. They already played a major role during the two Iraqi wars and during the events in Libya and remain an effective tool of U.S. diplomacy in the region.”

No matter who is the next U.S. president, the course for domination over the Middle East will continue, but the tools may be different. The “Arab spring” has shown that the arsenal of weapons for toppling authoritarian rulers and energizing the opposition is constantly being improved and now includes the Internet and nongovernmental organizations financed from abroad. Many experts tend to believe, and Russian Prime Minister and President-Elect Vladimir Putin shares this view, that the real reason behind the anti-government protests in Arab countries is a struggle for markets, rather than concern about human rights.

The Middle East is a region where the geopolitical and economic interests of major global players interweave. Russia has formulated the principles that all responsible members of the international community should follow in their Middle East policies. These are non-interference in internal affairs and respect for the territorial integrity of Middle East countries. By contrast, the actions of the United States and its allies in Iraq and Libya have plunged those nations into chaos, putting them on the brink of collapse.

 
RECOMMENDED READING:
THE EISENHOWER DOCTRINE AND THE THREAT OF ARAB NATIONALISM