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US foreign policy, Iraq, and the Cold War 1958-­1975

Gibson, Bryan R. (2013) US foreign policy, Iraq, and the Cold War 1958-­1975. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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This thesis analyses the ways in which U.S. policy toward Iraq was dictated by its broader Cold War strategy between 1958 and 1975. While most historians have focused on ‘hot’ Cold War conflicts such as Cuba, Vietnam, and Afghanistan, few have recognized Iraq’s significance as a Cold War battleground. This thesis shows where Iraq fits into the broader historiography of the Cold War in the Middle East. It argues that U.S. decisions and actions were designed to deny the Soviet Union influence over Iraq and a strategic base in the oil-rich Gulf region. This was evident in the Eisenhower administration’s response to Iraq’s revolution in 1958, when it engaged in covert action to prevent communists from gaining control of the state; in the Kennedy administration’s efforts to bolster the first Ba’th regime during its war with the Kurds in 1963 because it perceived it as anti-communist; in the Johnson administration’s support for the anti-communist, Arab nationalist regimes during the mid-1960s; and in the Nixon administration’s decision to support the Kurdish rebels in 1972-75 after the second Ba’thist regime drew Iraq partially into the Soviet orbit. This suggests a clear pattern. Using newly available primary sources and interviews, this thesis reveals new details on America’s decision-making toward and actions against Iraq during a key part of the Cold War. Significantly, it raises questions about widely held notions, such as the CIA’s alleged involvement in the 1963 Ba’thist coup and the theory that the U.S. sold out the Kurds in 1975. Finally, it argues scholars have relied excessively and uncritically on a leaked congressional report, the Pike Report, which has had a distorting affect on the historiography of U.S.-Iraqi relations. This thesis seeks to redress these historiographical deficiencies and bring new details to light.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2013 Bryan R. Gibson
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JK Political institutions (United States)
Sets: Departments > International History
Supervisor: Ashton, Nigel

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