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The United States Relations With The Middle East

2962 words - 12 pages

The United States was heavily involved in Middle-Eastern affairs during the latter half of the twentieth century. Following the election of President Eisenhower in 1952, the U.S.’s growing fear of Iranian nationalism and the potential spread of communism throughout the Persian Gulf ultimately coaxed U.S. forces into helping the British’ MI6 oust the Iranian Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, from power. The CIA successfully overthrew Mossadegh and created a power vacuum in the Middle East, in 1953, through Operation Ajax. The U.S. then informally colonized Iran, under Shah Pahlavi’s rule, in order to possess economic and political hegemony over the volatile Persian Gulf. The U.S. ...view middle of the document...

The Shah brought unwanted change to the social landscape of Iran during the mid-twentieth century. In the January of 1963, Pahlavi initiated his “White Revolution” which led to the institution of a Literacy Corps and western education in Iran. These secular reforms created an educated middle class consisting of doctors, engineers, journalists and experts in various other fields. However, many historians argue that the Shah’s implementation of these reforms was “shoddily planned and haphazardly carried out”, and his revolution did not take enough drastic measures to substantially improve the socio-economic livelihood of the poor. In addition, the small group of educated middle-class Iranians also turned against the Shah’s monarchy because Pahlavi refused to create a multiparty political system with democratic elections and constitutional limits on the Shah’s power. These Iranians consequently resented the U.S.; the western nation portrayed itself to be an exporter of democracy and human rights, but it actually helped the Shah abridge Iranians’ rights. Advised by CIA officials and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the Shah required every subject of his to carry an official document that acted as an identity card, birth certificate and as a record of one’s marriage and the birth of one’s child. In addition, there was a fine for losing the document, and it was needed to cash a check. Arbitrary policies, such as carrying around an all-encompassing “official document”, ostracized educated Iranians as they felt that they were being treated like children; they felt insulted, degraded and that they were being subjugated under the Shah’s rule.
The Shah’s political agenda failed to address the needs of the Iranian people while simultaneously allowing U.S. citizens to create an oligarchy in Iran. Due to Iran’s close economic and political relations with the U.S., more than 50,000 Americans resided in Iran during the 1970’s. Most Americans in Iran formed a privileged elite class; they earned six-figure, tax-free salaries, and they owned luxury houses. Americans’ economic prosperity in Iran upset Iranians of all classes as they felt like second-class citizens in their own homeland. In addition, the Shah’s decision to cede Persian land of great historic and monetary value, to Americans, further intensified Iranians’ xenophobic sentiments. Despite opposition from the Iranian citizens, the U.S.’s economic dominance over Iran led to the invasion of American culture in Tehran and other major Iranian cities: newly constructed theatres played American films, large neon signs advertising companies such as Pepsi and Coca-Cola were commonly seen in city skylines, and clothing stores with bikinis and other American clothes were commonplace in city boulevards. Many Iranians perceived Americans’ obnoxious showcasing of western culture to be a sign of arrogance and racial superiority. More importantly, they viewed Americans’ culture to be a corrupting force on...

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