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The United State and the Middle East - Essay Example

7 pages
1842 words
Sewanee University of the South
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Despite the physical distance between the Middle East and the United States, the American influence was felt in every nation in the Middle East. In the 20th century, the American strategic interest included a long-standing competition with the Soviet Union provoking America intervention in several areas ranging from diplomatic approaches to military involvement (Shlaim, 2015). In the recent decades, the United States policymakers have found it difficult to diverse its policies and politics from the Middle East. In fact, the advancement in bilateral relations has powered and reinforced significant cooperation between the United States and Israel which is a strategic nation in the Middle East. Before the World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union would only have been considered as great powers. However, during the war, the two established themselves as some of the most influential nations worldwide. Due to the Cold War Israel attracted attention from both the United States and the Soviet Union who were determined to establish themselves as superpowers. Subsequently, some of the most influential nations became determined to project their power through economic, political, military or cultural influence in the global arena. Due to unevenly distribution of power, America became more dominant in the Middle East than other nations with Israel being at the center of her strategy. Israel became an important policy consideration for the United States policymakers although the initiative faced several challenges.

The United States Entry in the Middle East

For the most of 20th century, the United States has had global interests and reached to match. Consequently, America has made itself a key player in the Middle East through its diplomatic, economic, and military power and by its national interests (Shlaim, 2015). The primary factor which made America involve themselves in the Middle East affairs particularly in Israel was the need to contain Soviet Union influence and limit its expansion in the region. Second, the western access to the Gulf of oil was significant to the United States who were the leading producers globally. America had to prioritize their interest in Israel as a way of retaining their economic influence in the world. Likewise, with the rate of radicalization by the Arabic community in the Middle East intensifying, as an activist of moderate and pro-western regime Americans felt obliged to spread their ideologies the Middle East as a way of establishing strong cultural ties among Jews and Arab Americans among other religious groups. As a result, United States has had a long-standing and intense commitment to Israel security and well-being. However, the relationship between Americans and Israelites since 1980 serves a double purpose. One it exposes the contradiction wave of the United States policies towards the Middle East. Second, it illuminates the impact of the schemes in Israel as well as in the United States.

In 1919 under the observation of the League of Nation currently United Nations the colonial boundaries were defined which continues to shape regional political realities. The United States gained a positive reputation in the Middle East by advocating for their independence from the like of France and Britons (Shlaim, 2015). By 1940, America was getting more involved in the regional politics due to its national interests. The fight against communist influence, ensuring steady oil supply and that none of the colonial powers gained dominance in the region were among the factors which established the strong relationship between the United States and Israel. The United States also supported other countries and leaders it considered stable allies such as Egypt government and Saudi royal family. The United States has been in the front in promoting democracy and transparent governance. In Israel, the long-term commitment by America has enabled Israel to defend itself against external threats mostly from Iran groups, Palestine and Hezbollah in Lebanon (Looney, 2014). Both Jerusalem and Washington have reaped huge dividends from the longstanding partnership and the strategic cooperation between Israel and America from the 1980s. However, they were some challenges Washington has faced due to the implemented foreign policies related to Israel.

Challenges that Washington Faced

Despite the advantages accrued to massive American expenditure in Israel some of the leaders have widely politicized the matter as a way of gain political stance in the country. The strategic partnership between the two countries has been subject to criticism over the years. The critics blame the healthy relationship between Washington and Jerusalem for the resentment of Americans in the Muslim and Arab nations. As a result, both Israel and the United States have had shared values making them a frequent target of terrorists and jihad activists. For example, the September 11 attack by Al-Qaeda was one of the deadliest attacks on the American soil (Looney, 2014). As an advocate of democracy America suffered for its involvement in the Islamic states. Terrorism has resulted in the outbreak of war in various countries and several attacks on American soil.

Similarly, the American foreign policies are widely influenced by the attitude and preference of the reigning president. Every president has come up with this idea with the help of the White House advisers on the way to maximize their benefits from the Middle East. In fact, the ties between the two countries have been an agenda for several politicians making it difficult for settling on long-term policies. Therefore, every administration steps in with new offers making the benefits and objective of this commitment inconsistent. For instance, unlike his predecessors, President Kennedy ushered in an era where Israel was to be considered as a definite asset rather than a liability (Shlaim, 2015). Also, when President Ronald Reagan took over the leadership, he emphasized and embarked on new policies towards the Middle East in an attempt to sustain American interests in the Middle East.

Americans have also posed challenges to the international tiers, especially with Israel. A substantial amount of taxpayers money is spent to retain peace and protect the Israel territory against their Islamic neighbors who might attack them for getting involved and associating with America. However, Americans feel they have very little to benefit from the relationship. In fact, some of the radical leaders have always advocated for withdrawing the financial aids accrued to Israel. Due to the indifference, the country looks divided over the issue with those in support claiming the relation is based on moral grounds rather than economic aspect. However, to those against the tie, there is little evidence that moral imperatives play a determining role in guiding the foreign policies in the Middle East.

Civil wars in the Middle East has also been posing difficulties to Washington in their effort to promote peace, human rights, and democracy. For instance, the turbulence and violence in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen pose challenges to the United States in their efforts to address other issues as they have to eliminate instability before promoting development and growth in the region. The wars in Libya and Iraq affects the United States indirectly as the two are some of the leading producers of oil. In fact, the civil wars breed vicious terrorist groups and displace millions of refugees who have been blamed for radicalizing regional population and causing conflict with the neighboring countries. The Palestine war is among the conflict president Regan had to intervene in 1982 where Israel was mandated to preserve democracy and Jewish characters by withdrawing from West Bank and failing to take the side of either Arabs or Palestinians.


The United States has treated Israel as an essential ally by providing her with diplomatic and economic support and access to modern weaponry. The relationship was initially established on the American bipartisan support for the Jewish state, a country perceived to be occupied by immigrants and sharing the democratic ideologies with Americans. However, the agreement between Israel and the United States should not have been analyzed on money spent but that which is saved. A stable and secure Israel significantly reduces the risk of exposure to America or the cost it would incur to get involved in another war in the Middle East which would not only be expensive but also claim lives of American troops. The relationship between Israel and the United States allows Americans to pursue an influential and active role in the region without getting involving themselves directly.

During the era of Ronald Reagan who served from 1981 to 1989, Washington gave Israel a competitive edge against other Arab countries in its military resources. The US government made an enhanced commitment to Israel having a Qualitative Military Edge (QME) by offering it advanced security and the army equipment against its rivals in the Arab region. Israel had more lethal targeting systems and improved software. Israel also had better logistics, training, and training in the military through the support of Reagans administration. The US officials offered weapons with the downgraded capability to Arab states while Israel received these with upgraded versions. Israel also acquired a nuclear arsenal as it possessed over 70 nuclear weapons. The presence of more powerful weapons enabled Washington to use Israel in controlling the Soviet Union (Shapira, 2012). In 1981, the US and Israel signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for cooperation and consultation on the enhancement of national security for the countries. During this time, Washington was able to form an agreement with Jerusalem on the formation of Joint Political Military Group (JPMG) to converse the strategic issues of the American equipment within Israel. Through US support to Israel, Israel was able to serve as a conduit for US arms in the Middle East region and prevented victories among radical nationalist movements in the area which threatened the US.

During the election of June 1992 in Israel, the left government wanted corrupt politicians to leave the government. Talks were held in Northern Ireland by Protestants and Catholics to pave the way for democracy. Shamir Israels prime ministers government was stubborn and opposed any negotiations with Arab states as well as reporting the building of settlements to the Americans which it had promised to do. Americas government which was led by Bush at the time delayed offering Israel guarantees which amounted to $10 billion. The money was essential to Israel as it would help it secure loans to absorb mass immigration from the former Soviet Union (Looney, 2014). The US Congress accepted the policy made by the US administration. Shamir tried seeking the help of the Jewish to lobby the US Congress to acquire the loan however it did not manage to change the decision of the White House. The delay of the credit worsened the relations between Israel and the United States and made the Israelis long for a different policy. Despite the setback in loan offer, the US has been offering Israel guaranteed commercial loans to enable it to absorb the Jewish immigrants. Israel has been paying the humanitarian loans in full, unlike other nations that have defaulted their debts to the US. Therefore, Washington was able to acquire returns from the investments to Israel.

All through the presidency of Clinton which lasted from 1993 to 2001, Washington gathered officials who had lived in Israel to join its administration to help it in making decisions on handling the country (Shindler, 2014). Despite the officia...

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