Graduation Year

Fall 2012

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Reader 1

Heather Ferguson

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© 2012 Thomas C. Winter


The foreign policy of the United States in the Middle East has taken many twists and turns since the first American citizens were taken captive by North African pirates in 1784. These foreign lands are a constant presence for contemporary Americans. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11th, the United States has been continuously at war. “Tellingly, the Asian greens that once camouflaged the fatigues of U.S. troops have burnished to Arabian browns and yellows, and Arabic has supplanted Russian as the lingua sancta of the intelligence services.”Unfortunately, constantly shifting motivations for US foreign policy in the Middle East has led to a situation that emboldens our enemies, weakens our allies trust, and makes us an unpredictable player in the Middle East. This thesis will examine the conflict between idealism and pragmatism in American relations with the Middle East, specifically during the 1950s under the Truman and Eisenhower administrations. Before launching into this task, it is essential to answer basic questions that will guide the reader through this thesis: How has the ‘Middle East’ been defined as a geographic area and a zone of contention? Why does this thesis identify the 1950s as thecrucial period for exploring the tenets of US Foreign Policy in relation to this zone? And how does the conflict between idealism and pragmatism emerge as the key tension in US rhetoric and action related to the Middle East?

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.