Opting for the lesser evil

US foreign policy toward Iraq, 1958–2008

Authored by: Abbas Kadhim

Handbook of US-Middle East Relations

Print publication date:  September  2009
Online publication date:  May  2014

Print ISBN: 9781857434996
eBook ISBN: 9780203859377
Adobe ISBN:


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For the past fifty years, US policy in Iraq has been crafted according to the same precepts that guided the larger policy toward the Middle East. There are three main concerns: combating the spread of communism, securing the flow of petroleum to the world market, and protecting the security of Israel. These concerns have produced a policy that focused on the support and protection of traditional allies in the region and the containment of unco-operative regimes and movements. While the last two concerns seem to endure the test of time, the fear of communism has been succeeded by a larger phobia: the rise of religious consciousness among the overwhelmingly Muslim population. Whether it is a middle-of-the-road Islamic consciousness or an extremist religiosity with terrorist manifestations, the result is hardly different as far as the US economic and political interests are concerned. Both modes of Muslim resurgence represent direct threats to the US-backed oppressive regimes in the region as well as to the current nature of Israel, as a Jewish state with a superior military capacity in the region.

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