American Middle East Foreign Policy 1973: Its Success and Its Effects On October 6 th, 1973 Egypt and Syria invaded Israel, using Soviet weaponry, crushing the Israeli military. The Yom Kippur War as it was later named, proved to be a major test for the United States' Middle East foreign policy. This conflict did not only test the effectiveness of American foreign policy, but America's commitment to fulfilling the policy. During the time period before and during the conflict, American interests in the Middle East differed from its' official foreign policy. These interests included: maintaining a consistent supply of oil from mid-east countries, containing Soviet influence in the region, and Israel's security as a sovereign nation.
However these interests differed from the United States' foreign policy, that is summarized as: developing relations with moderate Arab states, maintaining stability in the region by protecting Israel, and exercising certain moral principles consistent with basic American ideals. Throughout the Yom Kippur conflict American policy was all but unsuccessful, achieving all the goals set forth by the policy. Although American foreign policy was extremely successful, certain side effects occurred as a result to aspects of the policy. American aid and protection of Israel, offended Arab nations, namely Saudi Arabia, who in response, initiated an oil embargo against the United States.
Also, the United States threatened Soviet "client states" such as Egypt, in order to regulate Soviet influence in the region, this lead to an escalation of tension between the United States and the USSR. American policies and interests in the Middle East were both political and economic in nature. In tandem with interests and the extreme volatility of the unresolved Arab-Israeli conflict and the intensity of the Cold War, the Middle East was the most important region in terms of American interests, therefore the most dangerous. Although the effects of United States foreign policy, were both positive and negative, the United States successfully achieved all the goals set forth by its' foreign policy. Maintaining relations with moderate Arab states played a major role in American foreign policy during the Yom Kippur War. Although this policy, in the short run, proved to be unsuccessful, positive results are evident in later years.
American relations concerning Middle Eastern Arab states were primarily of economic interest, however political motivations did exist. Maintaining relations with these Arab states during the conflict was vital, to secure American oil interests in the region. Politically, maintaining relations with Arab nations would deaden the threat of Soviet influences in the region. If the Soviets or their radical allies succeeded, they would acquire a stranglehold on the area's resources, the economies of major industrial nations will be jeopardized (Chai). However, America's commitment to the protection of Israel, was the result of this policy, because of the "strategic service that Israel performs... acting as a barrier to Soviet penetration of the Middle East.
As a result of the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict, when the United States initiated it's relief aid program for Israel, "oil producing states boldly used oil a weapon, including embargoing oil for the United States," (Shipper 37). Not only having an effect on the United States, the embargo, "made numerous nations find it advisable to scold Israel regularly... and vote for hostile U. N. resolutions," (Shipler 37). Not only did the "oil" states embargo American oil, but they also financed the Soviet military aid to Syria and Egypt, amounting to nearly three billion dollars (Tillman 50).
The United States, without sacrificing Israel, for major political reasons, had to repair relations with Arab nations, and did so successfully over a few years. If the conflict was not resolved the effects could be devastating, with an estimated two hundred and seventy two billion dollar reduction in the gross national product (Tillman 51). However, the United States resolved the issue through economic and medical aid, assuming a more balanced role in the region, and arms sales. The United States acted swiftly; financial aid packages were put together, primarily for Saudi Arabia (Tillman 53). From The end of the conflict until 1980 Saudi Arabia received nearly 5.
5 billion dollars in United States aid (Tillman 53). Arms sales began in the mid-seventies to avoid any linkage between the embargo and the sales. In the mid-seventies an "arms package," was authorized, including the sale of sixty fighter jets to Saudi Arabia (Tillman 98). This was an attempt by the United States to show faith in the Arab nations. In late 1973 and early 1974, the United States assumed a mediator's role in Mid-East conflicts, in January the embargo was lifted. Although it failed initially, the United States successfully maintained relations with moderate Arab nations, through aid, and arms sales, to suppress the effects of the Israeli aspect of American foreign policy.
The United States tried to maintain these relations in order to strengthen the containment of Soviet influence in the Middle East. The United States worldwide policy concerning the Soviet Union was based on the idea of containing world communism, and it was no different in the Middle East. The policy in the Middle East was especially important because of it was an economically based at it was politically. The Soviet Union played a major role in the Yom Kippur War, supplying Syria and Egypt with over 200, 000 tons of equipment (Shipler 37). The American objective concerning the Soviet Union can be summarized as: to deny opportunities of influence to the Soviet Union; protect free world access to the worlds largest oil reserve; and to check the growth or radical anti-Western movements (Shipler 59). These summarize the American motive for containing Soviet influence in the region.
The United States achieved the goals of containment by using many methods; through economic support of Israel as well as Arab neighbors, by threatening t intervene with military force, and through diplomacy. Henry Kissinger stressed the importance of strong Arab states as well as a strong Israel when he states, "The best defense against communism in the Middle East is to strengthen moderate Arab governments" (Tillman 52). President Nixon authorized a 2. 2 billion dollar aid package to Israel to replenish its military forces, and create a surplus of capital for use against Soviet or Soviet endorsed aggression (Morris 258). Israel, towards then end of the war threatened to destroy the remaining Egyptian armies at Suez City (Schoen). The Soviets threatened to intervene unilaterally, to disarm the Israeli forces (Boukhars).
Nixon in response ordered American forces to DEF COM 3, and then urged U. N. resolutions, the Soviet Union then stood down (Schoen). As well as using foreign aid and threats of intervention, the United States also used other forms of diplomacy to contain the Soviet Union's influence. Soviet-American relations reached a new point during the early seventies, an era of d'etente, where confrontation between the two nations would be avoided at all costs (Boukhars). This relaxation of tension, led to both the United States and the USSR, to advocate the use of the United Nations, rather than acting independently (Boukhars).
Henry Kissinger in his memoirs made remarks about how the United States used d'etente as means to halt Soviet influence, "It was partly necessity; partly a tranquilizer for Moscow, as we sought to draw the Middle East into closer relations with us, United States policy to contain the Soviet was in fact making progress under the cover of d'etente" (Boukhars). Although the United States successfully contained Soviet influences in the region, some side effects did occur. The policy of the United States led to an escalation of tension between the it and the USSR, the Soviets threatened intervention to unilaterally enforce the cease-fire after Israeli's continued fighting against Syrians in the Golan Heights (Tillman 251). Through aiding Arabs and Israelis alike, diplomacy, and threats of interventions, the United States successfully contained and thwarted Soviet influence in the region, at the cost however, relations and tensions increase between the two countries. The escalation of tensions with the Soviet Union, was for the sole purpose of protecting Israel and maintaining relations with Arab countries. The United States, throughout the war and its ensuing conflicts, successfully protected democracy in Israel and its sovereignty as a nation.
The motivations of the United States, to fulfill this commitment were both political and moral. The political motives revolved around one vital component of American policy, how to beat the number one adversary, the Soviet Union. However, through the protection of Israel, particularly its democracy, the United States also was fulfilling moral obligations as well as political ones. President Eisenhower stated the attitude of the United States, towards its friendship with Israel: "The State of Israel is democracy's outpost in the Middle East, and every American who loves liberty must join in the effort to make secure forever the future of the newest member in this family of nations... ." (Shipler 32). However, politically, and geographically Israel played a much bigger role, as a barrier against the Soviet influences in the region (Chai).
If the Soviet Union were to gain political sympathy in the region they would use oil as a weapon and suffocate industrial giants like the United States (chai). In addition to the political importance of Israel to the United States, there is also a moral duty of the United States to aid a fellow democracy in distress. Henry Kissinger backs up this theory, "America is not true to itself unless it has a meaning beyond itself" (Tillman 45). Jimmy Carter also recognizes the "special relationship" between Israel and the United States, .".. a relationship which is indestructible because it is rooted in the morals and the beliefs of the American people themselves" (Shipler 47). America fulfilled its goals to protect Israel through foreign aid and political intervention.
Israel was the largest recipient of American aid during the war, in excess of three billion dollar per year (Gilbert 460). On October 11 th President Nixon began airlifting supplies in excess of 200 tons per day (Schoen). Israel was the last standing defense against the flood of communism in the Middle East, immediate aid was critical, a letter was sent to the president with seventy-six senatorial signatures, "with holding military equipment would be dangerous, discouraging accommodation by Israel's neighbors and encouraging the use of force" (Tillman 67). Military equipment packages were also available to Israel, one such deal included over a dozen fighter jets (Tillman 98). On October 19 th Saudi Arabia asked the United States to sign U. N.
resolution 232, but Nixon denied the request and asked Congress for a 2. 2 Billion dollar aid package (Schoen). Although America successfully protected Israel in its weakest state, there were negative effects to fulfilling this policy. On October 20 th, Saudi Arabia began an oil embargo on Israel and its allies, including a ten percent cut in exports to the United States (Chai).
In addition, America's support for Israel isolated it even more in a region that was already anti-Western, and anti-Israeli. Any moderate Arab state that was friendly with the United States became hostile, such as Saudi Arabia (Schoen). Although many negative effects resulted from aiding and protecting Israel the United States fulfilled the political and moral aspects of its foreign policy The Yom Kippur War and the ensuing conflicts put American foreign policy to the test, as we as the United States' resolve in meeting the goals set forth by the policy. During the conflict the United States, in tandem with its' foreign policy, attempted to secure it's interests in the region. These interests included: maintaining a consistent supply of oil from mid-east countries, containing Soviet influence in the region, and Israel's security as a sovereign nation. However these interests differed from the United States' foreign policy, that is summarized as: developing relations with moderate Arab states, maintaining stability in the region by protecting Israel, and exercising certain moral principles consistent with basic American ideals.
Throughout the Yom Kippur conflict American policy was all but unsuccessful, achieving all the goals set forth by the policy. Although American foreign policy was extremely successful, certain side effects occurred as a result to aspects of the policy... American aid and protection of Israel, offended Arab nations, namely Saudi Arabia, who in response, initiated an oil embargo against the United States. Also, the United States threatened Soviet "client states" such as Egypt, in order to regulate Soviet influence in the region, this lead to an escalation of tension between the United States and the USSR. However, the United States resolved many of these side effects through: aid, confrontation, arms sales, and diplomacy. The United States successfully fulfilled the goals of it's foreign policy, while maintaining its' interests in the region at the same time.
The Yom Kippur War as it was later named, proved to be a major test for the United States' Middle East foreign policy. American foreign policy in 1973 was based on primarily political and economic goals, however, many basic American ideal were fulfilled as well. Although the effects of United States foreign policy, were both positive and negative, the United States successfully achieved all the goals set forth by its' foreign policy. Works Cited Boukhars, Ano uar. "D'etente and Confrontation." 04. 2001.
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