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FAITH FIGHTS COMMUNISM: THE UNITED STATES AND ISLAM IN SAUDI ARABIA DURING THE COLD WAR

Wednesday 13 August 2014, by siawi3

FAITH FIGHTS COMMUNISM: THE UNITED STATES AND ISLAM IN SAUDI ARABIA DURING THE COLD WAR
Robert M. Morrison

Source: http://dl.uncw.edu/etd/2009-1/morrisonr/robertmorrison.pdf

INTRODUCTION – A BRIEF HISTORY OF U.S. DIPLOMACY IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND THE IMPACT OF ORIENTALISM ON THE HISTORIOGRAPHY OF
AMERICAN FOREIGN RELATIONS
CHAPTER I – THE MIGRATION OF KNOWLEDGE: EUROPEAN ORIENTALISTS AND THEIR IMPACT ON THE PERCEPTION OF ISLAM IN THE UNITED STATES
DURING THE COLD WAR
CHAPTER II – A PARTNERSHIP OF FAITH: THE EISENHOWER ADMINISTRATION AND KING SA’UD IBN ABDUL AZIZ OF SAUDI ARABIA
CHAPTER III – PREACHING TO THE MASSES: THE STATE DEPARTMENT, THE
UNITED STATES INFORMATION AGENCY, AND THE PEOPLE OF SAUDI
ARABIA
CONCLUSION – LESSONS FROM THE AMERICAN COLD WAR MOBILIZATION OF ISLAM.

This thesis examines the mobilization of Islam in Saudi Arabia by U.S. policymakers during the early stages of the Cold War. Officials in both the Truman and Eisenhower administrations identified Islam as a potential bulwark against the spread of atheistic communism into the Middle East. As the United States supplanted Great Britain as the hegemonic power in the region following World War II, traditional European misperceptions of
a stagnant and monolithic “Muslim world” migrated across the Atlantic and became entrenched in fledgling area-studies programs throughout a number of American universities. These mischaracterizations soon permeated the ranks of the policymaking community as well, causing State Department officials to perceive Islam as a useful weapon against the spread of Soviet
communism. The Eisenhower administration targeted Saudi Arabia as a regional base for this mobilization. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles hoped to establish King Sa’ud ibn Abdul Aziz as a spiritual leader for all Muslims, as well as a pro-Western counter to the Arab Nationalist ambitions of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser.
The State Department also exploited Sa’ud’s perceived responsibilities as the guardian of the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina in order to discourage him from establishing any connections with the “God-less” Soviets. Officials with the United States Information Agency (USIA) also targeted the Saudi populace with a grass-roots propaganda campaign that featured a variety of materials contrasting the violent oppression of Muslims in communist countries with the spiritual tolerance of the United States.