If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.
– Lewis Carroll
At the ending of the First World War, the victorious allies carved up the Persian, Arab and Turkish empires of the Middle East.
Literally redrawing the map of the region, the interests of the new world imperium created new colonial sovereignties replete with vast oil riches. Though the European imperialists were reviled, the United States was “popular and respected throughout the Middle East,” states Oxford University’s Politics chair, Louise Fawcett. In fact, she notes, “Americans were seen as good people, untainted by the selfishness and duplicity associated with the Europeans.”
Since those times, and especially today, Western leaders sought ways to “manage” the peoples of this cradle of civilization – forging or forcing alliances with partner countries and resisting while antagonizing and attacking our perceived foes. (Often the same countries at different times).
It was oil.
Oil of was an element of success for the Allies. Oil had to be airlifted from France to General George Patton’s tanks which ran out of gas pushing into interior Germany.
The Middle East became strategic and the United States, as one of the victors of WW II, became beneficiary of the division of the region’s oil fields. Standard Oil of California had been exploring the resources since before the way.
During the Cold War, an alliance with Western nations and Israel created a barrier to Soviet Union influence in the Middle East with the U.S. military taking responsibility for ensuring the free flow of oil through the Persian Gulf.
Fast forward through the Iran-Contra affair, the hostage crisis, the Gulf War and the post-9/11 wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria (for which the America has spent –the Treasury Dept. estimates– more than $6.4 billion.
And conflicts continue.
To understand more about the past, present and future of the Middle East, the Orcas Library is offering a community discussion Monday, January 27, entitled “The Middle East: regional disorder.” The meeting is part of the monthly Great Decisions series which focuses on major world issues.
The event will be held at the Community Room in the Orcas Library, Eastsound, at 6 p.m., Monday.
For more information, you may call the library at 360-376-4985 or discussion moderator Brad Brown at 360-298-2840.
Reading and video materials are available for view at the library prior to this event.