tv Book Discussion on Americas Great Game CSPAN January 19, 2014 6:02pm-7:01pm EST
debbie wasserman schultz. >> thank you very much, congresswoman. [applause] >> booktv continue with hugh willford. he recowboys the cia's easterly forays into the middle east. the operations were ran by head to door roosevelt's grandson, kermit "kim" roosevelt, and was assisted by this cousin, archie roosevelt, chief of the beirut station. he also reports these actions would lay the groundwork for current foreign policy relations between the u.s. and middle
east. this is about an hour. >> thank you for that kind introduction, and i'd like -- thanks to everybody for coming out in these conditions. i'm originally from england and will be heading back there shortly, so preparation after southern california for a british winter. just like to begin by saying a few words -- first, how i came to this subject, were describing the scenes of the book. now, as you have already heard, the -- my previous book, the mighty wurletzer about cia front groups, nongovernment organizations made up of anticommunist, private citizens,
engaged in cold war propaganda overseas and later emerged these groups were in fact being secretly funded and, to some extent, managed by the cia. one group i didn't really engage with in the mighty wurlitzer was the american friend office the middle east. and mainly because its purpose didn't seem to be so much to do with the cold war as with promoting the arab world to an american audience, and also it was antizionist, battling the insew lens of the emerging israel lobby in 1950s america, and this just seemed so sort of odd, and unexpected. i didn't really quite know what to do with it. i mention until the mighty wurlitzer, putting friends in the middle east to one side.
after mighty, i came back to this story and gap delving into its further, and soon realized that the main office or the main cia officer involved in the creation of the american friends of middle east was none other than kermit "kim" roosevelt. now, this name might already be familiar to you. because he is known as the cia officer who led the 1953 coup operation in iran that toppled the nationalist government of the prime minister, and restored the rule of the shah. and also kim roosevelt was an american aristocrat. a grandson of theodore roosevelt, and head of the cia -- early head of the cia's middle east division, thus his
field command in 1953. a coup which, of course, is a sort of -- a classic case of blowback. it might have averted a cold war crisis at the time, but it led to later to years of u.s.-iranian hostility. so i guess right away, even before i started out, i had two questions. first of which was: what was the cia doing funding this proarab, antizionist group, not perhaps one would expect the cia to be doing, and why was kim roosevelt the enemy of -- or known as the enemy of nationalism in iran, why was he backing this group which, among other things, advocated for arab nationalists like the egyptian master. well, i did a lot of research in
government records, not so much the cia's own records because they are-remain classified or destroyed, but if you snoop around in other records, especially the state department and go to british public records as well, you can learn a surprising amount of information about cia operations in this period. collections of private papers, and interviews with surviving intelligence officers of the day, and family members of my main characters. what emerged from this research was a -- an account of the cia in the 1940s and 1950s, and this is at the moment really of the birth of the cia, comes into existence in 1947. this is also right at the beginning of official u.s.
involvement in the middle east. been very little official u.s. presence there prior to this period. so what emerged was this history of the cia in the middle east during these crucial decades, that was at its core -- kermit roosevelt -- partly a buy graph of kermit roosevelt but also includes archie roosevelt, kermit's cousin, another grandson ot.r., and this somewhat colorful, rambunctious personality, very different backgrounds, from aristocratic, from the south, from alabama, compared with the roosevelts in the wrong side of the tracks, and he later becomes this very sort of indiscrease commentator, after he left the agency, on
intelligence affairs, also somewhat improbably the father of stewart cope lean, -- copeland, the drummer for the police, in case you didn't know that. together these three men, archie and kermit roosevelt, and miles copland, really helped shape the cia's early program in the middle east, and as kim roosevelt's involvement in the iran coup of 1953 perhaps suggests this involved creating quite a lot of disorder in the middle east. various attempt -- various coup operations and attempts at coups, coups that left a legacy of antiamericannism still troubles u.s. relations with the region tonight. but at the same time, these men were arabists. that is, they knew a great deal about the arab world and they were surprisingly sympathetic
towards it, sincerely believed that had it best interests at heart. so, what this book attempts to do is capture this surprising moment when the cia was most definitely proarab and asked, where did this impulse come from, this arabist impulse come from? and where did it go? why did it become eclipsed by other impulses in u.s. foreign policy? just to sort of sketch the answers to these questions, which emerge from my research, first, as to where this arabism originated to some extent it came from the british, who were the dominant person power in the middle east prior to the u.s.' entry into the region in the early years of the cold war. the roosevelt cousins in particular were -- they were
captivated by the example of earlier british arabists, in particular t.e. lawrence, lawrence of arabia. they both read up -- they both grew up reading his account of his involvement in world war i, the seven pillars of wisdom, kim roosevelt's father actually knew lawrence personally, corresponded with him. so, they imbibed this tradition of the romantic british attraction towards the arabs. this is also where the concept of the great dane came in in addition to lawrence they read rudyard kipling, the british bard, and wrote an adventure story about a young angelo indian spy in india at the time of the raj, which shaped kermit
roosevelt's childhood in particular, his imagination and his childhood, where his nick name of kim stuck with him threw his adult life came from. it's from this sort of british influence that the roosevelt cousins in particular get this notion of the middle east, the east generally, the orient, as this place of potential adventure, heroic espionage games. but this is the only influence on them. at it also important to realize that there was another tradition on which they drew a distinctively american one and it was a nonofficial one. it is the legacy left by a generation of american missionaries in the middle east, that first started going to the arab world in the early 1800's,
had not succeeded in converting many of the nonchristians there, to christianity, but they had left this important legacy in the region, founded schools and hospitals and in particular universities, american university at beirut was an important american institution the arab world prior to the 1940s and 1950s. and it was a creation of these missionaries, who identified with arab nationalism. there was this relationship between institutions like american university of beirut, aub, and the creation of nationalist ideology in the arab world. so, in addition to this british imperial tradition, the cia arabists are also drawing on this history of missionary -- american missionary engagement with the middle east, which is transmitted to the young cia
through a number of people of missionary stock, who ran the u.s.' espionage effort in the middle east during world war ii, characters like william eddie and his biography, thomas litman, is here tonight. so i think this really is the explanation of the puzzle that i started this research with, which was, what was the cia doing funding an organization like the american friends of the middle east? and it also explains this sort of arabist element within the young cia. helps explain why it was that kermit roosevelt also organized covert backing for masa in egypt, so at the same time
that's kermit roosevelt is overthrowing the nationalist prime minister of iran. he is aiding the cause of the arab nationalists leader of egypt, a government that was created in the wake of the 1952 egyptian revolution against a defiant british monarchy of king farouk, and kermit roosevelt dispatches a cia team led by miles copland to cairo, copland's cover at this point is that of a booze allen hamilton employee, and that name might be familiar to you because it was also the company employing edward snowden. at the time of his revelations about nsa surveillance.
and miles copeland's and -- suggests this element of advertising and public relations, american publication relations know-how is conveyed to the nassar reign regime, not just copland but a friend, james eichelberger. his actual background is with the american advertising company, j.w. thompson. so i call these chaps in my book, mad men on the nile, as this sort of mad men performing these secret operations in cairo element to my story at this point. so, i won't go into anymore details about the forms that the
cia arabism took. you can read about those in the book. but i do want to say a few words about the decline of cia arabism. why is it that the arabists, proarab, antisighonnist agenda, ultimately failed because clearly failed it did. nassar became quite antiamerican after 1956. the u.s. throws it weight not so much behind arab nationalists as behind conservative british colonial leaders in the middle east. meanwhile at home the american friends of the middle east-backed cia front group that is advocating on behalf of nassar and the cause of arab nationalism generally, and
attacking american zionists, suggesting the u.s. shouldn't be so much behind israel. nassar and u.s. identification with arab nationalism increasingly gives way to support for conservative regimes, and a more pro israel foreign policy. the cia arabists themselves, as a group, split up by 1958. kermit roosevelt has quit the agency, so, too, has miles copland, they've both gone to the oil industry for somewhat more profitable employment, and archie roosevelt, meanwhile, stays with the cia but is moved to another region. now, there were various forces undermining the cia, cia arabist program, from the outside.
john foster dulles, secretary of state at the time, takes a strong personal dislike to gammal nassar. the british prove very effective at securing american support for their basically antinationalist agenda in the middle east, so that the u.s. starts to rally around british client regimes in the region. conservative arab leaders themselves also contribute to this move within u.s. foreign policy. but i think there is also a big internal problem, as it were, with cia arabism, and that is that they are so attracted to that, the tradition of lawrence
and kipling and -- that they resort too readily, to easily to covert operations in order to address u.s. policy challenges in the middle east. i think this is particularly crew of kermit roosevelt, whose nickname "kim" conjured up the great game, and i think it's -- just to return to that initial sort of conundrum i started out with, why is it that kermit roosevelt, the friend of arab nationalism, is working to overthrow a nationalist prime minister in iran. i think if you study papers and you read his memoir of this event, it's clear that the cold war, the u.s. coveting of iranian oil field, these
important considerations for kermit roosevelt as well as other americans planning this operation. for him personally, i think what really caused him to run this operation and see it through to the end, was this desire to play spy games, to sort of act in the tradition of lawrence and the hero of the noble that had inspired his nickname. kermit roosevelt's memoirs in 1953, operation countercoup, which was publish rather unfortunately 1979. the year of course of the iranian revolution. kermit roosevelt's memoir reads almost like an old fashioned british adventure story in the tradition of kipling or john button in particular.
i just read button's dream mantle before reading kermit roosevelt's countercoup and theres their september alerts between the adventure story and the memoir of a real cia operation. so despite trying to overcome the british imperial legacy in the middle east by supporting arab nationalists, kim roosevelt played an american version of the great game. so, what are we to do with this now? what lessons, if any, can be drawn from this story of cia arabism? i'm an academic and a historian, so i am a little uncomfortable about reflecting on current affairs, sort of avoid the historical sin of presentism, and in any case i'm not sure the lessons are that clear. on the one hand the surprising
fact that cia arabism existed at all suggests that there's nothing inevitable about conflict between the u.s. and the arab world. this earlier history of happier relations between americans and arabs flies in the face of those who would argue there's some sort of inevitable clash of civilizations between arabs and americans. opened, this is something that reviewers point out -- it is striking how quickly the cia arabists crossed to the other side of the road. started supporting regimes in the region. cia a very slender read indeed.
one thing to -- is clear to me and that is the foundational moment in modern u.s. middle east relations. if you look at all the major news stories in the region today, from egypt to syria, to iran, their origins can be traced to this foundational moment when the u.s. established an unofficial presence in the middle east and when the cia was created and ran these operations. so, in other words, i if you want to truly understand what is going on now, we do have to know about this earlier history. thanks very much for your attention. [applause] >> so i have two quick questions.
one, in the '40s the state department was full of arabists. george marshall threaten ted to resign if truman recognized israel, or at least very unhappy about it. so, were these people connected with the state department people? my second question is about suez. apparently you talk about that in the book. the british, french, and israeli expedition to retaining the suez canal. were these three involved in that? >> thank you. those are great questions. there were links between the cia arabists and arabists in the state department. lloyd henderson is important here, another man called edwin wright, a leading state department arabist and who coached the young archie roosevelt when he first started having assignments in the middle east. so, it's a widespread phenomenon
in u.s. governing circles at this point. a number of people who believe that the u.s. should really be throwing its weight behind the arab world rare than israel and oppose palestine and then u.s. recognition of israel. of course it's a battle they lose because the power of the i zionists in american public life is growing, and achieving support of congressmen and so on. and of course, there is greg -- growing american popular support as well for the zionist because of the devastating impact of the holocaust. so, yeah, it's a phenomenon that embraces both the state department and the cia. with regard to suez, they're not
personally involved, mill three arabists, except that they all claimed later to have received some information from british friends of theirs, british spies and mi-6, that something was afoot. of course, it should perhaps have presented the arabists with a wonderful moment of opportunity, the fact that the u.s. effectively intervenes on behalf of the arab world, and against the british and the french and the israelis. but by this point already, john foster dulles is really become fed up with nassar, and i think the real story -- in some ways starting to see suez in a tway as an aberration, that they -- the main story is this growing u.s. irritation with -- and
distancing from arab nationalism, and sort of -- with britain in the region. so behind the scenes the british and americans, despite suez, are actually starting to grow closer together, and this to a certain extent happens at the espionage level. it's the cia and mi-6 which kind of start the thawing in british-american relations that leads to this general. the u.s. kind of taking over britain's imperial burden, as the british certainly saw it, in the middle east, in the years after the suez. thank you for those questions. >> you may have already answered this. among all the personnel your book, are you saying there's not one that thought there might be a problem of basic values, contradiction between the islam
and the west? the reason i say that is because i studied from 1750 to 1950. there are a number of major figures that did see such a fundamental clash. john quincy adam, john westley, chesterson. there wasn't a single figure like that in the personnel of the arabists? >> amongst the arabists, no. there is this belief in and need for christian and muslim sessions to move closer together. and religions and the ways of life share many things in common. for some of the older arabists of missionary stock, like william eddie, the founding father of u.s. espionage in the middle east. almost has a mystical belief in
the links between islam and christianity,sees himself as a bridge figure between the two civilizations. i think his happiest moment comes when he acts as the interpreter between franklin roosevelt and the saudi king at the end of world war ii. it's in the book. and he is the interpreter because he has arabic. so i think he -- i am not sure that the roosevelt cousins have quite this kind of intense belief in the convergence of christianity and islam that somebody like eddy did, but it's still there, i think, and the american friends of the middle east is sort of geared towards trying to generate a dialogue and theological conversations as well, something called the continuing committee on muslim
christian cooperation, and the cia is funding via the american friends of the middle east. so, this is all sort of prior to the -- ultimately, of course, becomes in the eyes of some u.s. covert operatives, kind of a weapon of political warfare, funding islamists, fundamentalists, against the soviet union, and leads to a history of blowback, which many of us are familiar with today. but for arabists like eddy, i think there is this really intense belief in the need for genuine, mutually reinforcing dialogue between christians and muslims. >> do you personally are familiar with those voice, what john quincy adams said -- >> oil just saying that aamongst the arabists, they didn't
subscribe to that view. >> okay. >> a couple questions. how united would you say the arabists were? when you look at how many different movements you had emerging simultaneously, and there was obviously plenty of conflict internally, just like today -- maybe not quite as intensely but fairly intensely -- how united were they? do you see some examples where there was some real breaks with them, went the group? and then i guess just with the two roosevelt grandsons, maybe asking you to speculate a little bit but what would you say would teddy roosevelt himself have been on their side or do you think he might have been more on the -- i guess you called it the conservative, more sort of
standard american interests side of the equation? if there's even a way to speculate. just asking. >> sure. sure. i think as regards the possibility of divisions amongst the arabists, i think they're fairly concerted in terms of their values and the vision they have for the arab world. there are -- kermit roosevelt -- of the two roosevelt cousins, i think is the more inclined to covert action, and i think archie roosevelt was a little bit more cautious, even conservative in his approach. but nonetheless, even he actually in 1956 and 1957, was involved in a coup operation to overthrow the government of syria. so he was trying to repeat the feat that kermit roosevelt understand 1953. and there was some sort of permanent rivalry between them
as well. archie rather fancied himself as the main guy in the u.s.' -- the cia's middle east division. that was a role that kermit eventually acquired. and there was -- miles copeland's ram bunk shoesness occasionally got on kermit roosevelt's nerves but he is a cautious personality. as regards theodore roosevelt's likely views in terms -- well, certainly he saw -- he believed that the u.s. should be britain's successor in the region, and i suspect he would have -- i think he would have approved of kermit roosevelt's hunger for manly adventure, and i think there's a sense in which
the 1953 coup operation is sort of kermit roosevelt's attempt to sort of have his own sort of story, like his grandfather's charge up kettle hill or whatever, the ghost of theodore roosevelt is always hovering there with this generation of roosevelt men. he is the benign presence but also one that is slightly judging and feel like they can never quite measure up to. so this element of psychological drama going on within the roosevelt family as well. thank you. >> hi. i look forward to reading your book. i want to know, are you familiar with kings council? >> that's a recent publication. >> published by norton in 2011. he was station chief in the middle east in the '60s and '70s, and he gives quite an
account of the cia's role in the middle east during that period. are you familiar with the book and are you familiar with that portion of the history of the agency in the middle east during the '60s and '70s that you'd like to comment on? >> sure. it seems to me -- i was actually expecting when i wrote the book to take it a little further into the 1960s and probably finish with the 1967 war. 1967 was very significant year for the cia arabists, obviously, the arabs are route it in the middle east itself and the cia funning of front groups is revealed in the media. so the american friends of the middle east is revealed as a cia front, which of course is deeply embarrassing to it and this delights its zionist enemies. so the arabist cause is -- really kind of falls apart in 1967. i think it's already -- that
process is really in a sense already taken place before then. 1958 emerged that the true terminus of my book because my three main characters move airplane from the agency or the middle east, within the arab world. but i do know, in answer to your original question, i do know that book. it's a fascinating book. and jack o'connell -- his presence in jordan -- that's what the book is about, about his function as a cia liaison with and adviser to hussein and jordan. it begins at the very end of my story, really, as the u.s. and the cia are kind of changing sides from arab nationalists to monarchies and governments more
traditionally identified with british imperial interests in the region. so, yeah, i'm glad you mentioned it. >> i just might mention that david ignatius devoted an entire editorial in the "washington post" to the book and jack o'connell when it was pushed. so to fill in the gap after your book, this is a great book. >> thank you. >> hello. just curious. i haven't read your book. but i read the synopsis and listened to your speech here, and i'm just thinking that it has to be more geopolitics than anything else, and the use of the term "arabists" sounds more like romanticizing of these young men that wanted to go off on adventures in the middle
east, and that sounds like complete fiction to me, but if you could explain more -- or maybe give more evidence of this arabism? i think it's much more likely that the cia was being the cia, and this was something that was going on, the chess game geopolitics and do it -- the then- -- typical stuff. >> i understand what you're getting at with that question. and in the course of the 25-minute presentation i should have gone through this -- the cold war dimension of it and the oil question and the u.s.' desire to ensure that the west still has access to this incredibly important resource, and i -- when i started researching this subject, the there was overwhelming evidence
of this proarab tendency amongst this first generation of cia officers in the middle east. it's something that kermit roosevelt was advocating for before he joined the agency in 1949. he was creating these arabists, citizen groups, to advocate for the arab side, and against the partitionists of palestine. even before he was in the agency he wrote a book in 1948, advancing the arabist case to the american public, like, i guess, many -- like previous generation office roosevelts. he engaged with public life in addition to his career as secret service in the cia. so, it was very difficult to not take account of this evidence when i was writing the book. >> i was just curious as to a little more meat behind it, why did he have that?
was it just this grew up forever reading about rudyard kipling? it's sort of crazy. >> but people like kermit roosevelt got their initial insides of the middle east from. there wasn't this tradition of u.s. engagement with the middle east in this period the say way there was with the british and the french. it was really only these american missionaries, and oil men in the middle east, and they -- people like kermit roosevelt sort of passed through the hands of these missionaries who were very proarab and working for the office of strategic services and didn't have time to cover that aspect of the story as well, burt the cia's office of strategic services during world war 2 was the -- its middle eastern division was dominated by these people with pro-arab outlook on the region and the u.s.' role
there. so that was another influence on these people. of course, immensely important and ultimately they do -- they win the day. right? the arabists lose the argue; as it were, but nonetheless it was there at the beginning. it was undeniably there. thank you. >> i'm curious as to what extent did the arabists were free agents as opposed to just carrying out the policies of the president and the secretary of state and the head of the cia, and i guess were the arab -- did you find the arabists were those who were simply antizionist or promoting an agenda which would make the life of the bulk of the
arabs better? did they support the algerian resort -- revolt or support the french? >> archie roosevelt along with many other americans in the middle east during world war ii, and in north africa in particular, were really quite antifrench, and identified with the arab independence movements in the french dominated regions of north africa, and actually roosevelt was sent home briefly because of his tendency to criticize the french. so, it was really very striking is a was reading his memoirs and also his diary of his involvement during world war ii, how profoundly he identified with the cause of arab nationalism in north africa, and he befriended various arab
independence leaders. during that period. you also asked about how independent these guys were, and i think they initially have a lot of latitude within the cia, partly because just not that much expertise about the region, and they know something about it. so, they are -- allen dulles is from a similar akris -- aristocratic background, and very much inclined to give kermit roosevelt his head, as it were in this field. but then sort of gradually spat
upon -- dulles' brother backs fed up with nassar and suspicious of arab nationalism within the context of the cold war. he very much sort of departs from the arabist agenda and i think kermit roosevelt -- his decision to leave the cia in early 1958 is partly because dulles is no longer listening to him. so he has gone from -- he was wildly successful in his career, and his success in iran in 1953, particularly became sort of a cia legend, but then things start to sour for him and he is no longer given the -- what he originally had. i think to answer your question, initially they had a surprising amount of freedom on their own,
but later on that declined and that led to the departure. >> thank you. >> you're welcome. >> i had a question. you keep referring to them as arabists. now, back then in the '50s did these guys have the sense the arabs were not arabs and would be offended if they were called arab. did they just lump them all as middle east arabs? >> it's interesting. they are -- kerr milt roosevelt didn't have arabic but archie roosevelt and miles copland did. the three of them were -- they knew a great deal about the arab world and were inclined to sympathize with arabs, but that attitude didn't really seem to extend to iranians.
archie roosevelt before kim roosevelt's operation in 1953 that overthrows -- he was in iran on the years after world war ii, and at the time of the first real cold war struggle take place in iran, 1946-1947, and it's clear from his account of that moment that he doesn't really have the same personal sympathy for iranians that he does for arabs. he in fact sees them in sort of rather orientalist british racist terms and writes about this in his memoirs and there's already this kind of element of -- at the same time as you relate to the arabs, don't feel the same way about iranians and that seems to be there as well for kim roosevelt in 1953. he is very ready to sort of accept the british analysis of
what is going on in iran, that these are rather kind of weak-minded historical people who will succumb to soviet influence unless we get in there i'm not entirely sure why that is. i think it's part to do with the fact that possibly iran is more clearly a sort of a battlefield in the early cold war, just as in the british-soviet great game. so perhaps they're more inclined to accept the british view and also see it as a place to sort of great game adventures. you're right. there is that distinction, and it takes the advantage of the arabs but not those in iran. >> thank you. >> you're most welcome. >> hi. i just -- i'm curious to try to
determine, is there any link between the arabism or the arabists in the state department and the chaos that seems to be part of the attitude that today the state department has towards arab nations? i mean, the situation in syria is so chaotic as to be laughable, as far as i'm concerned. can one bring any lessons or is there any way of linking the two -- the arabists from that time to the present time, or maybe it's too much of a stretch? >> i don't think it is at all. as i sort of suggested towards the end of the talk, there is extraordinary continuity and similarities between recent events and what was going on in the '40s and '50s, the coup
in iran is still talked about today, and it is still an issue in u.s.-iranian relations. you could argue in fact they arabist success in stabilizing the nassar regime in egypt leads to the durability of the -- although this is, of course, making a big leap but could partly explain the durability of military government in egypt that has just returned to power, and the similarities between events in syria in the 1950s and more recently. they're very striking in particular last summer when i was reading stories in the newspapers about what -- why isn't the cia in there running covert operations to overthrow
the assad regime? the same things were going on in 1956 and 1957, although not skied publicly, but nonetheless there were attempts to mobilize syrian opposition groups to discovery throw the leftist government in syria, and the cia lacked the assets within syria to be able to do that. so, -- >> by assets you mean the manpower and the spy power, perhaps, or whatever is needed? >> exactly. and the links to opposition groups. this is something that kermit roosevelt very much made a point of saying repeatedly, which was that you can't bring about regime change unless there's substantial elements in the country that are willing to go through witness. it can't just be simply brought about by external manipulation, and i guess that is the whole
history today. >> okay. thank you very much. >> you're welcome. >> i had a question about the agency of the arabists you mentioned as well as '67. in terms of agency, you sort of say, well, it is kind of surprising when you look at it from today's point of view, that the cia was funding all these pro-arab, anti-zionist entities, but i recall 25 years ago going to the soviet union, in their museum in moscow when they had geopolitical maps from the '40s, '50s, and pro soviet countries of the world were colored red and the pro american ones were colored blue, and what's interesting that the newly created israel was colored red, which would seem under socialist ideas, and the arab states were color blue. and that doesn't change, i
remember, until the late '50s, when everything switches around. right? and then start looking as israel is sort of an attachment of the united states. so, looking from that element, the soviets had a similar sort of take in terms of knowing who they wanted to support during those crucial years which you discuss. so i'm wondering, isn't it more a question of geopolitics and directives rather than the agency of some arabists that happened to be sort of believers in the great christian civilization? and the second question, '67, you say it was a turning point. isn't it more '91? when the soviet union collapses, and when it does the whole primp of -- prism of looking at this region falls apart and makes is more dangerous because the
soviet union is not around to keep its satellite states in check, and so there's no interlocker who can have more control, and also people who write on the region, '67. >> briefly, it splits the region in terms of geopolitical calculations. israel is originally seen as more likely to fall into the soviet camp than the u.s., and stalin doesn't really have all that much interest in the arab countries to begin with. but that changes with the stalin's death and khrushchev coming to power, and he sees the middle east as up for grabs as
the cold war starts to extend into the third world, and the arabists -- at least the arguments within the cia, james angleton, known as the chief of counterintelligence, he also runs the israeli so-called account, which is growing espionage connection between the cia and massad as the american world is lost to arabs and there is competition for the u.s. alliance. so, i -- and your point about 1991, the end of the colored -- cold war, is well taken. i don't mean to argue for thing sinnance of geopolitical considerations as compared to this arabist impulse.
ultimately it is the geopolitics, perhaps sort of wrongly analyzed by the likes of john foster dulles because he has a binary polar cold view of the world, and it's ultimately what wins out over the impulse. so its existence is interesting, and suggestive, of path not taken. it's worth studying that moment to find out why it wasn't. >> have here in my hand today's "washington post." i'll read the headline from page a-7: kerri cites progress, admits risk of failure in mid-east. have we ever gotten anything wright in the middle east besides oil? maybe that means we should just get out of there? >> you know, i'll leave that
question hanging there, i think. >> i don't know -- [inaudible] -- did we get anything right? >> well, i think that what does the u.s. get right in the middle east? let's just try to end on a happier note. i hope this doesn't sound frivolous but there is this earlier history of a welcome benign presence of the united states in the middle east, the era which saw the creation of institutions, important institutions, like the american institution of beirut -- excuse me? >> the top to the front to the -- a lot of good stuff. >> it's worth remembering that moment, and i refer anybody here who isn't familiar with the work