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Sowing Crisis: The Cold War and American Dominance in the Middle East Hardcover – February 1, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Khalidi (Resurrecting Empire) provides a compelling history of modern conflict in the Middle East, arguing that current conflicts are by-products of the cold war and the policies, strategies and priorities of the United States and the Soviet Union. The author illustrates how the cold war rivals saw the Middle East—with its vital location and vast oil and gas reserves—as a tool to further their parallel agendas: the Soviets and Americans both subordinated the goal of Arab-Israeli peace and supplied weapons at a profit to both Iraq and Iran during their eight-year war, while the U.S. sought to further its dominance of the region by backing a coup to overthrow democracy in Iran. Khalidi concludes by charting how George W. Bush's Global War on Terror has allowed for a massive military expansion in the Middle East and resulted in futile and feckless policies that may have increased the actual risk to American citizens and wreaked havoc on the region. Khalidi has written an important book, essential for anyone concerned about the stability of the Middle East. (Mar.)
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A stunningly clear analysis of the geopolitics of Middle East conflicts from 1945 to today. A book not to be missed.—Immanuel Wallerstein, author of European Universalism: The Rhetoric of Power

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; 1St Edition edition (February 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807003107
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807003107
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,556,011 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rashid Khalidi is the author of Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East (Beacon Press, 2013) and six other books about the Middle East--Sowing Crisis, The Iron Cage, Resurrecting Empire, Origins of Arab Nationalism, Under Siege, and the award-winning Palestinian Identity. He is the Edward Said Chair in Arab Studies at Columbia University and editor of the Journal of Palestine Studies. He has written more than eighty articles on Middle Eastern history and politics, including pieces in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and many journals. Professor Khalidi has received fellowships and grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the American Research Center in Egypt, and the Rockefeller Foundation; he was also the recipient of a Fulbright research award. Professor Khalidi has been a regular guest on numerous radio and TV shows, including All Things Considered, Talk of the Nation, Morning Edition, NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and Nightline.

Photo Credit: Alex Levac, 2011.

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth Le Abeywickrama on April 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This scholarly work by Prof. Khalidi offers a highly readable history of the Middle East by delving into the numerous historical events that shaped the current situation, presenting these events from the perspectives of the different protagonists and analysing their motives. The imperial aspirations of the big powers from the 19th century, their Cold War and post-Cold War rivalry, provide the background to their continuing influence in this region through their support for venal elites who run some of their client states. The imperial embrace of weak nations under various pretexts such as stability and democracy is often a kiss of death in the longer term. While countries in many other regions have been able to partially extricate themselves from big power politics, the Middle East remains an area big powers still control through client states governed mostly by the undemocratic rulers who rely on external support for their continuation in power. Western readers whose knowledge of the region is based on sanitised versions of world events by "TV experts" and political spin doctors will find this book disturbing.
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31 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Seth J. Frantzman HALL OF FAME on March 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is an important book from the well known scholar Rashid Khalidi whose previosu writings have usually focused on the Arab-Israei conflict.(The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood). However he has, of late, expanded his interests to examine the entire Middle East and particularly the 'western' influence and meddling in the region.

In this work he seeks to examine the role of the Cold War in the Middle East. For a long time scholars have spoken of what is called an 'Arab Cold War', the internal struggle between Arab regimes who were allied with the U.S and Russia. Egypt was a lynchpin in this for the Egyptian Nationalist government of Nasser and Sadat flirted with he Soviets for some twenty years. Nasserism also influenced revolutions in Yemen and attempted coups in Jordan and Lebanon, as well as Baghdad. Syria under the Ba'ath and the Asad family was a close ally of the Soviets. So was Iraq under the Ba'ath. On the other side were the Saudis, the Gulf States, Egypt after 1980, Jordan's King Hussein, the Yemenite royalists, Baghdad before 1968 and Turkey. Lebanon was always problematic, torn by chaos after 1976 it had numerous influences. The Palestinians too curried favor with the Soviets, especially the PFLP and George Habash.

Islamism and its rise among the Brotherhood, Hamas, and particularly in Iran in 1979 placed a third counterbalance to this Cold War reivalry in the region. Herein lies the problem with the Khalidi analysis. Khalidi wants to show that the U.S and Soviet Union 'sowed crises' in the Middle East.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C P Slayton on August 11, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Khalidi takes a historical perspective on the Middle East and its crisis yet uses the lens of foreign involvement as the independent variable throughout. As a result he will leave some details in, others out, add a few interweaving points in order to claim that the U.S., Russia, France and Britain among others have 'sown' the seeds of crisis.

The argument holds water, especially in regards to the Cold War. However, this is not to ignore the fact that internal Arab disputes and their own 'cold war' and realism's hold on dictatorships have given them a few problems all their own. While the U.S. in the last decade has meddled greatly in Iraq and Afghanistan it cannot be said that all of the middle east is still a product of foreign meddling. The middle east is in the international economy and so is its oil. It was rudely introduced to realpolitik in the post WWI era and is becoming quite proficient in the skill today.

It is possible to 'help' too much. Khalidi's description of Lebanon's over-dependence on foreign sources is thought-provoking at best. I don't think world powers are the only pieces of leverage that could extract a tight fisted dictator... then again on this day in summer 2011 my words our hindsight, Khalidi didn't see this coming.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sari on May 5, 2012
Format: Paperback
To all of those who want to understand why people of Middle East don't trust the US politics and government, you should read this book.
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