The Pragmatic Superpower: Winning the Cold War in the Middle East

The Pragmatic Superpower: Winning the Cold War in the Middle East

by Ray Takeyh, Steven Simon


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A bold reexamination of U.S. influence in the Middle East during the Cold War.

The Arab Spring, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the Iraq war, and the Syrian civil war—these contemporary conflicts have deep roots in the Middle East’s postwar emergence from colonialism.

In The Pragmatic Superpower, foreign policy experts Ray Takeyh and Steven Simon reframe the legacy of U.S. involvement in the Arab world from 1945 to 1991 and shed new light on the makings of the contemporary Middle East. Cutting against conventional wisdom, the authors argue that, when an inexperienced Washington entered the turbulent world of Middle Eastern politics, it succeeded through hardheaded pragmatism—and secured its place as a global superpower.

Eyes ever on its global conflict with the Soviet Union, America shrewdly navigated the rise of Arab nationalism, the founding of Israel, and seminal conflicts including the Suez War and the Iranian revolution. Takeyh and Simon reveal that America’s objectives in the region were often uncomplicated but hardly modest. Washington deployed adroit diplomacy to prevent Soviet infiltration of the region, preserve access to its considerable petroleum resources, and resolve the conflict between a Jewish homeland and the Arab states that opposed it.

The Pragmatic Superpower provides fascinating insight into Washington’s maneuvers in a contest for global power and offers a unique reassessment of America’s cold war policies in a critical region of the world. Amid the chaotic conditions of the twenty-first century, Takeyh and Simon argue that there is an urgent need to look back to a period when the United States got it right. Only then will we better understand the challenges we face today.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393081510
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 04/18/2016
Pages: 416
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Ray Takeyh is a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and previously served in the State Department. He lives in Washington, DC.

Steven Simon is a visiting lecturer in the Department of Government at Dartmouth College and has served in senior positions at both the State Department and the White House. He lives in Norwich, Vermont.

Table of Contents

Prologue: American Apogee xi

Chapter 1 The Iran Crisis of 1946 and the Cold War's First Conflict 1

Chapter 2 The Palestine Question 25

Chapter 3 America, Iran, and the Coup 53

Chapter 4 The Suez War 91

Chapter 5 1958: The Year of the Revolutions 127

Chapter 6 The Six-Day War 161

Chapter 7 From the Yom Kippur War to the Camp David Accords 191

Chapter 8 Iran Revolts 239

Chapter 9 The Iran-Iraq War 269

Chapter 10 The Gulf War 299

Conclusion 329

Acknowledgments 337

Notes 339

Index 375

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