Exonerating US Policy

The Myth of "Good Intentions"

by Fred Halliday
published in MER98

Barry Rubin, Paved with Good Intentions: The American Experience in Iran (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980).

Economic Sanctions and Iranian Trade

by Philip Shehadi
published in MER98

Former President Jimmy Carter’s announcement of economic sanctions against Iran on April 7, 1980 aroused little enthusiasm except in Tehran, where crowds roared their approval of a formal break in ties with the “great Satan.” At home, hadn’t the freeze of Iranian assets, the longshoremen’s refusal to load Iran-bound goods, and the November ban on Iranian oil imports already reduced trade between the two countries to a trickle? In Europe, foreign ministers meeting in Lisbon on April 10 declined to heed Carter’s call. The Europeans, and the Japanese, had a stake in maintaining economic ties to the new regime. Western Europe as a whole was importing 650,000 barrels of Iranian oil a day.

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The Arc of Crisis and the New Cold War

by Fred Halliday
published in MER100-101

The latter half of the 1970s witnessed a sustained and geographically diverse series of social upheavals in the Third World which, taken together, constituted a lessening of Western control in the developing areas. In Africa, the Ethiopian revolution of 1974 was followed by a series of changes in the remaining embattled colonies attendant upon the revolution in Portugal: in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau (1975) and, as a consequence of the independence of Mozambique, in Zimbabwe (1980). The Southwest Asian region was transformed by the revolutions in Afghanistan (1978) and Iran (1979). In Central America there was a triumphant revolution in Nicaragua (1979), and continuing unrest in El Salvador and Guatemala.

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From the Editors

by The Editors
published in MER100-101

This is our one hundredth issue, and our tenth anniversary. The variety and scope of the articles, and the size of the magazine, go beyond anything we have attempted before. At the same time, this issue incorporates and represents much of what MERIP has tried to do over its ten years past. We are very pleased to feature here Roger Owen’s insightful assessment of the Arab world’s last decade in the economic sphere. Fred Halliday addresses head on the official contentions of US policymakers concerning the Soviet role in the region, and situates the “new cold war” in the global and regional upheavals of the past ten years.

Doubling Down on Dictatorship in the Middle East

by Amanda Ufheil-Somers | published December 30, 2014

For a moment, four years ago, it seemed that dictators in the Middle East would soon be a thing of the past.

Back then, it looked like the United States would have to make good on its declared support for democracy, as millions of Tunisians, Egyptians, Bahrainis, Yemenis, and others rose up to reject their repressive leaders. Many of these autocrats enjoyed support from Washington in return for providing “stability.”

Yet even the collapse of multiple governments failed to upend the decades-long U.S. policy of backing friendly dictators. Washington has doubled down on maintaining a steady supply of weapons and funding to governments willing to support U.S. strategic interests, regardless of how they treat their citizens.

The War in Lebanon

by Joe Stork , James Paul
published in MER108

On Sunday morning, June 6, 1982, 40,000 Israeli troops, with hundreds of tanks and armored personnel carriers, rolled across the 33-mile border with southern Lebanon. Israeli seaborne troops landed on the Lebanese coast at Sidon and near the mouth of the Zahrani River, while the Israeli air force continued the intense bombing of Palestinian camps in the south and around Beirut begun two days earlier.

From the Editor

by Chris Toensing
published in MER273

Midway through Barack Obama’s second term as president, there are two Establishment-approved metanarratives about his foreign policy. One, emanating mainly from the right, but resonating with several liberal internationalists, holds that Obama is unequal to the task of running an empire. The president, pundits repeat, is a “reluctant warrior” who declines to intervene abroad with the alacrity becoming his station. The other, quieter line of argument posits that Obama is the consummate realist, a man who avoids foreign entanglements unless or until they impinge directly upon vital US interests.

Burying the Hatchet with Iran

by Chris Toensing | published November 5, 2014

Don’t tell anyone, but the United States and Iran are getting closer -- perhaps closer than ever -- to letting go of 35 years of enmity.

No, Washington and Tehran aren’t going to be BFFs or anything.

But they do share a common interest in rolling back the so-called Islamic State, whose well-armed militants have declared an extremist Sunni caliphate stretching across Syria and Iraq.

The United States is anxious to restore the Iraqi government’s authority in oil-rich Iraq, while Iran is eager to defeat a murderously anti-Shiite militia on its western flank.

The Cold Realities of US Policy in Israel-Palestine

by Mitchell Plitnick | published October 15, 2014

During the summertime war in Gaza, the two most progressive members of the US Senate stirred up controversy among their backers with expressions of uncritical support for Israel. At a town hall meeting, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the lone Senate independent, responded to a questioner that Israel had “overreacted” with its 52-day bombardment and ground incursion, but then proceeded to justify Israel’s actions with the usual pro-Israel talking points about “missiles fired from populated areas” and “sophisticated tunnels.” [1] An audience member began to shout objections, to which Sanders said, “Shut up.”

Sisi at the UN

by The Editors | published September 25, 2014 - 10:44am

This week ‘Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi paid his inaugural visit to the United States as president of Egypt. The occasion was the annual meetings of the UN General Assembly. We asked some veteran Egypt watchers and MERIP authors for their reactions.

Mona El-Ghobashy