SpyCast

America's Great Game: The CIA's Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Intelligence historian Hugh Wilford reveals the surprising history of the CIA’s pro-Arab operations in the 1940s and 50s by tracing the work of the agency’s three most influential—and colorful—officers in the Middle East: Kermit Roosevelt, Archie Roosevelt, and Miles Copeland.  With their deep knowledge of Middle Eastern affairs, the three men were heirs to an American missionary tradition that engaged Arabs and Muslims with respect and empathy.  These “Arabists” propped up authoritarian regimes, attempted secretly to sway public opinion in America against support for the new state of Israel, and staged coups that destabilized the nations with which they empathized.   They were fascinated by imperial intrigue, and were eager to play a modern rematch of the “Great Game,” the nineteenth century struggle between Britain and Russia for control over central Asia.

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