Historian: Arabs were more than just pawns in Cold War

BEIRUT: Exclusively Arab alternatives to Soviet and American Cold War ideologies which competed to shape modernization in the 20th century received a rare but welcome boost at a lecture held at the American University of Beirut, Tuesday.

“The Crush of Ideologies: The United States, the Arab World, and the Cold War Modernization” challenged common historical assertion that the “Third World” was merely a pawn positioned between two superpowers.

Instead visiting speaker Nathan Citino, an associate professor at Colorado State University, strives to prove both Pan-Arab nationalism and political Islamism were forces of equal magnitude to those of communism and liberal capitalism.

The lecture corresponds with Citino’s wider attempt to attach greater historical significance to the Middle East in an era otherwise largely dominated by a bipolar politics.

His book “From Arab Nationalism to OPEC: Eisenhower, King Sa’ud, and the Making of US-Saudi Relations” (currently in its second edition timed to coincide with the centenary of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) has already helped to position Citino at the heart of a new, self-imposed discipline; a fusion of Middle East history with US foreign relations....

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