Containing Arab Nationalism: The Eisenhower Doctrine and the Middle East

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Containing Arab Nationalism: The Eisenhower Doctrine and the Middle East

By Salim Yaqub
University of North Carolina Press, 2004
392 pp. $59.95
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Coming just a decade after the 1947 Truman Doctrine, the Eisenhower Doctrine was the second Cold War presidential doctrine keyed to the Middle East. This time the Soviet threat was seen as reaching into the heart of the Arab world, but the more immediate strategic goal in the wake of the Suez crisis was lining up Arab states against Egyptian President Gamal Abdel al-Nasser and his brand of Arab nationalism -- which proved to be a hard sell. Yaqub concentrates on 1957 and 1958, covering congressional hearings, the unsuccessful effort to "line up" Arab states (the Richards mission), and the quixotic U.S. notion that Saudi Arabia's King Saud could serve as the counterweight to Nasser. He also covers the crises that followed in Jordan, Syria (a failed U.S. effort to topple the regime), and thereafter the 1958 coup in Iraq (seen as Nasserist at the time) and beleaguered Lebanese President Camille Chamoun's appeal for U.S. troops. Ultimately, the effort to get Arabs to stand up and be counted against Nasserism only caused them to be counted out. This is a richly documented and detailed, yet eminently readable, study -- the best available on the Eisenhower Doctrine and on those two tumultuous years, with still-relevant lessons for what works and what does not in Middle East diplomacy.