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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The Reagan Administration in the Middle East

by Fred H. Lawson
published in MER128

Under the Reagan administration, the United States has waged “the second Cold War” with particular forcefulness in the Middle East. Washington has moved combat forces into the region repeatedly since 1981: to engage first Libyan warplanes over the Gulf of Sidra, then Lebanese militias and Syrian forces outside Beirut, and most recently Iranian air and naval patrols in the Persian Gulf. These military operations have accompanied political steps that have moved the US away from an emphasis on close relations with “moderate” Arab regimes in favor of closer strategic ties with Israel. From the administration’s perspective, such policies have provided a coherence to American relations with this part of the world that was lacking during the Carter years.

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Intervention and the Nuclear Firebreak in the Middle East

by Michael Klare
published in MER128

The “deadly connection” -- the link between interventionism, conventional warfare and nuclear war -- has now become a major issue for the peace movement. This, in turn, has compelled those working on nuclear disarmament questions to begin to deal with the Middle East and US policy there. The reason for this is simple. When we look at specific regions of the world, it is obvious that the Middle East is the area where the connection arises in its most acute and dangerous form -- the area where a nuclear war is most likely to break out.

The Gulf Between the Superpowers

by Scott Armstrong
published in MER130

Anthony Cordesman, The Gulf and the Search for Strategic Stability: Saudi Arabia, the Military Balance in the Gulf, and Trends in the Arab-Israeli Military Balance (Boulder: Westview Press, 1984).

Occasionally, when an important head of state arrives in Washington for consultation without a previously announced agenda, he is greeted by an embarrassing series of articles and commentaries exposing the cumulative ignorance of American foreign policy analysts. Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd recently visited with President Ronald Reagan and provided just such an example.

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Moscow's Kabul Campaign

by Jonathan Steele
published in MER141

Six years after they invaded Afghanistan and were condemned by virtually the entire international community, Soviet troops with their Afghan government allies have slowly begun to win the war.

Most of the reports received in the West over the last six years have come from journalists travelling with the rebels or from Western embassies in Kabul. It has been a mixed picture of heroism and incompetence, determination and disunity, courage and corruption, but the general tone has usually been upbeat. The mujahidin, it is argued, have right on their side and will ultimately prevail, even though no one knows what kind of government—reactionary, progressive, or Islamic fundamentalist—they would put in place.

Nuclear Shadow Over the Middle East

by Joe Stork
published in MER143

In the summer of 1984, Newsweek published the results of a Gallup poll of hundreds of top-ranking American military officers. Among the questions was this: where did they see the greatest threat of a conflict situation which might escalate to nuclear war? The majority responded clearly: the Middle East. [1]

Ethiopia's Contras

published in MER145

In his February 1986 Message to the Congress on Foreign Policy, Ronald Reagan announced his support for “growing resistance movements now [challenging] communist regimes installed or maintained by the military power of the Soviet Union and its colonial agents -- in Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Ethiopia and Nicaragua.” In four of Reagan’s five regional hot spots, an avowed anti-communist contra-style force maintains a field presence against a regime allied with the Soviet Union.

Ethiopia and the Politics of Famine Relief

by Gayle Smith
published in MER145

Famine takes root when farmers lose their means of production. In Africa, drought and war have forced huge numbers of peasants to sell off their animals and tools and abandon the land on which they depend, thus bringing local economies to a standstill. Grain yields in Africa declined by one-third per hectare over the last decade; food production is down by 15 percent since 1981. One out of every five Africans now depends on food aid. Interest payments on international loans now consume $15 billion per year. The continent’s industrial base is functioning at only one-third of capacity. The incidence of famine among Africa’s rural producers has in turn brought national economies to a halt.

Alignments in the Horn

Famine Reshuffles the Deck

by Dan Connell
published in MER145

A decade ago, the Horn of Africa was the scene of one of the most spectacular geopolitical realignments in Cold War history. A devastating famine helped trigger the ouster of Ethiopia’s strongly pro-US emperor Haile Selassie in 1974. A military junta seized power in Addis Ababa and pledged to place the strife-torn empire on the road to “socialism.” Three years later, the US and the Soviet Union switched positions in Ethiopia and Somalia and the entire region rippled with the aftershocks.

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Public Law 480: "Better than a bomber"

published in MER145

The US food aid program originated in 1954 as a means of disposing of costly domestic agricultural surpluses. In that year, Congress passed the Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act, known as Public Law 480. PL 480 enables food-deficit “friendly countries” to purchase US agricultural commodities with local currency, thus saving foreign exchange reserves and relieving US grain surpluses.