THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE IN THE MIDDLE EAST, 1919-1945 by Phillip J. Baram

THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE IN THE MIDDLE EAST, 1919-1945

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The subject is timely, the research extensive, and the answers are abundant. But the tiresome academic jargon makes the book useful only to experts and other interested and persevering souls. Even they may find its utility limited. Baram analyzes too many major topics which he does not integrate. He discusses the policies of the US Department of State towards such broad issues as oil, the Palestine problem, minorities, British and French imperialism, and German and Russian designs during World War II (though not before, as the title indicates). On many issues the author's conclusions are controversial, as when he claims that the department encouraged radical nationalists to oust the British and French so the United States could replace them. He is also sometimes inaccurate--in assuming, for example, that department policy is synonymous with US policy. More serious is Baram's pervasive bias against the State Department, which he hardly credits with any success, even during the period of American primacy in the region in the mid-1970s. Concurrently, he faults the department for its opportunistic support of the Sunni Muslim majority against minorities (Maronites, Kurds, and Jews) and against allies (Britain and France)--and attacks it for being idealistically and self-righteously anti-imperialistic. Why, he asks, did a policy of enlightened imperialism find no favor--as if, ideals aside, occupying Saudi Arabian oil fields would have been as effective as securing them through US oil companies and cultivating Saudi Arabia's friendship. Despite such controversial conclusions, the work is full of unavailable data which the scholar might find handy.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1978
Publisher: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press