The US and Britain Role in the Middle East Conflict Research Paper


An ideology entails a set of beliefs and ideas that comprise of a group’s aims, objectives, and expectations. Several scholars view it as a comprehensive vision that is employed in interpreting the complex world. In the modern international system, the ideas of the powerful states will always dominate (Pinker 2002, p. 89). From a Marxist perspective, the bourgeoisie will always make laws that would be applied in governing society.

In this regard, Britain and the United States have always made laws that control politics in the Middle East region (Ehteshami, 2007, p. 38). They do not allow individuals in the region to make and implement their policies because their economic and socio-political interests would not be achieved (Fukuyama, 1992, p. 56).

From a realist perspective, the national interests of the powerful states will always dominate their foreign policies. Policies made in the United States and Britain regarding the ongoing conflicts between the two states is based on selfish interests, which is to extend the ideas of capitalism as an ideology (Cleveland, & Bunton, 2009, p. 11).

The two major ideologies that apply to the conflict between Palestine and Israel are capitalism and socialism. Capitalism advocates for private ownership of property whereas socialism insists on the sharing of societal resources. In other words, an individual is allowed to own and operate businesses in a capitalist society while socialism encourages centralization of state resources to promote harmony and a sense of togetherness.

The role of the US and Britain in propagating the Middle East conflict is based on ideological struggle. The US and Britain advocate for capitalism while Palestine is always against this move. This forces the United States and Britain to support Israel since they share a common ideology in terms of political and economic development (Bell 2008, p. 86).

The Role of the American Government

The United States has always had an interest in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict because of its close links with Israel. A section of the Jewish population in the US has been influencing the US government to formulate policies aiming at safeguarding the interests of Israel in the Middle East region. In this regard, it is observed that the United States has a unique cultural, political, and economic tie with the United States of America.

The US is mainly attracted to oil in the Middle East region. Oil is the main interest of the US in the Middle East. Latest Congressional report reveals that the United States offers the highest military assistance to the government of Israel as compared to any other foreign state in the world (Cleveland, & Bunton, 2009, p. 18). The Obama administration has been urging Israel to allow Palestine to form its autonomous government.

Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has been in the front line urging Israel to cease fire with Palestine. The American foreign policymakers have always argued that their commitments to allocate Israel and Egypt adequate funds means they are committed to ensuring that the region is secure. When Syria and Egypt, through the support of the Soviet Union, invaded Israel, the US quadrupled budgetary allocation to Israel in an attempt to protect it from external aggressors.

In 2001, the Bush administration sent a delegation to Israel to investigate the state of security and advise the government accordingly. It was a follow up to the initial initiative that the former president, Clinton, had assigned the former senator a responsibility of collecting facts regarding the status of Israel in the region.

The Bush administration endorsed a report compiled by Mitchell, which was popularly referred to as the Mitchell report, which was a report that discussed in detail the Middle East violence (Ehteshami, 2007, p. 38). In early 2002, violence had taken over the existing tranquility because the two states were back to war.

The conflict was referred to as the second intifada whereby Israel reoccupied the two regions that have always experienced conflicts one in West Bank and the other one in the Gaza strip. The attacks on innocent Israelis changed the American perception towards the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat. Before the violence, he was a regular guest of the Bush administration, but he was later viewed as a terrorist.

On 24 June 2002, the American government tried to influence the outcome of elections in Palestine by urging the Palestinians to elect clean leaders who had never associated themselves with terrorists. Bush promised that his government could come up with strategies on how to end the conflicts between the two states. He, therefore, requested Palestine to renounce and keep away from terrorism.

On their part, Israel was requested to relinquish the regions belonging to Palestine to the Palestinian government (Fawcett 2005, p. 43). In April 2003, Bush’s government came up with policies that were later referred to as the road map to peace policies. In May 2003, the Palestinians heeded the American call and elected a new prime minister, Mahmud Abbas.

The US-led the negotiations between Israel, Palestine, and Jordan in the city of Aqaba. The meeting achieved little because Palestine pulled out prematurely since the US demanded a lot from the Palestinian premier. In September 2003, Abbas resigned owing to the public pressure since he was accused of failing to counter the ideas of Sharon and Bush (Hirst 2003, p. 67).

The invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan delayed the ongoing American efforts to resolve the Palestinian/Israeli conflict because the focus was on ending terrorism. In 2005, Abbas was elected as the prime minister for the second time, which paved the way for negotiations with the US. However, little was achieved in 2005 because of the fresh violence between the two nations.

In 2006, there were major changes that affected the American efforts towards the restoration of peace in the Middle East region. First, Sharon became very sick since while a terrorist group, Hamas, secured many seats in the Palestinian government. The United States distanced itself from Palestine since it could not sit down with terrorists (Salame 1987, p. 114).

Britain and its Role in Creating Conflict in the Middle East Region

The Middle East Conflict has existed for years mainly because of the western influence. Britain is of the states that have always ensured that peace is not achieved in the Middle East because it will be detrimental to its national interests. Britain has consistently come up with peace initiatives in the region, but the policies have never succeeded in resolving the conflicts.

Most Palestinians and Israelis believe that the damages caused are usually a result of hostilities between the two countries. However, the problem is different because the west has always ensured that the conflicting parties do not agree on the way forward. The conflicts between Arabs and Israelis in the region serve a special purpose of fulfilling the interests of the west.

It is noted that the stakes of the foreign powers, including Britain are the major problem. Britain has always ensured that tangible solutions are not reached because it would temper with its interests (Stewart 2008, p. 98). In this case, the main interest of the British in the region is oil. Through interference, the western powers can acquire oil at a reasonable price because they exchange oil with weapons.

Just like other foreign powers, Britain has never supported a policy banning the supply of weapons in the Middle East region. In reality, this would end the persistent conflicts that have threatened the very survival in this region. Through its media, Britain has consistently ensured that negative reports regarding the Middle East are reported to the world.

The world forced to believe that the Middle East region is volatile hence the presence of western powers in the region should be supported (Hudson 1998, p. 27). It is observed that conflicts in the region are critical to the foreign powers, but not peace.

Britain has always entered into corrupt deals with leaders from the region meaning that its Multinational Corporations have always sponsored some corrupt individuals during elections with the assurance that such leaders would help them in achieving their national interests.

Theoretical Explanation: Realism vs. Idealism

In international relations, two theories are mostly employed in analyzing major issues in world politics. Realism and idealism are the two major theories. Idealism is a theory that was first supported by the US president after the Second World War. The theory observes that there are many actors in the international system.

The state is not the only actor because other units, such as religious organizations, Multinational Organizations, and supranational organizations exist. The state does not have massive powers as far as policy formulation is concerned (Telhami & Barnett 2002, p. 115). For instance, Multinational Organizations influence policy formulation among the Less Developed Countries.

Moreover, religious organizations are known to influence the behavior of states in several ways. An example is given in Poland during the Cold War when John Paul II influenced leaders to abandon communism in favor of capitalism. In this regard, it can be observed that Catholic played a critical role in influencing leaders to keep off from the communism.

In the international system, the United Nations plays an important role in influencing the foreign behavior of states (Hawkes 2003, p. 90). For instance, the UN Security Council can impose sanctions on a sovereign state. In Libya, the UN Security Council imposed a no-fly zone sanction to the sovereign state because it is the main actor.

In contrary, realists observe that the only actor in the international system is the state. The state has the power to formulate foreign policies without consulting any other entity. For instance, the state should not consult the populace before making foreign policies because foreign policy formulation process is considered high politics.

In this case, other actors exist to temper with the sovereignty of the state because they should not be involved in the process. Realists claim that states have the powers to either support or oppose global decisions. It is the responsibility of the state to decide whether to support a policy or not.

Moreover, the state confers the nationality of individuals. Without the state, an individual cannot move from one corner of the world to the other. The state has established structures that facilitate world security. Liberalists observe that there are many actors in the international system. The international system is a community of both states and human beings.

The foreign policy should recognize all actors. In this case, the role of other actors must be recognized. As states struggle to accomplish their missions, they must prioritize their goals. Those goals that aim at fulfilling the common interests should be pursued first as opposed to the goals that accomplish individual interests. Foreign policy formulation should be based on morality.

Moreover, it must be based on internationally recognized codes and morals. This is the reason why states intervene militarily whenever human rights are violated (Bell 2008, p. 90). This shows that liberalists value universal interests as opposed to national interests. Hoffman noted that states have a duty beyond their borders.

For instance, a state should ensure that the rights of other individuals are not violated, irrespective of whether the individuals are citizens of its citizens. Liberalists emphasize human rights meaning that they must always be taken into consideration whenever foreign policies are formulated.

To liberalists, the end does not justify the means because leaders must be held accountable at every decision they make. Liberalists are prescriptive implying that foreign policy should be reflective. On the other hand, realists observe that the unit of analysis is the state. The international system dictates to the state what should be done. In other words, changes in the international system dictate foreign policies.

Each state is concerned with its security. States are preoccupied with national interests, not collective security (Sayigh & Shlaim 1997, p. 34). Therefore, the state will always prioritize its interests. Realists believe that the end will always justify the means.

To liberalists, the international system is characterized by cooperation. This explains why the US could provide aid to its adversaries such as Japan and Russia during calamities (Owen 2004, p. 118). In the international system, the law is respected because it dictates what ought to be done. For instance, states will always cooperate in fighting the common enemy.

List of References

Bell, D. 2008, Political Thought and International Relations: Variations on a Realist Theme,Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Cleveland, W. & Bunton, M. 2009, A History of the Modern Middle East, Westview Press, Boulder.

Ehteshami, A. 2007, Globalization and geopolitics in the Middle East: Old games, new rules, Routledge, London.

Fawcett, L. 2005, International Relations of the Middle East, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Fukuyama, F. 1992, The End of History and the Last Man, The Free Press, New York.

Hawkes, D. 2003, Ideology, Routledge, New York.

Hirst, D. 2003, The Gun and the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East, Faber, London.

Hudson, M. C. 1998, Middle East dilemma: The politics and economics of Arab integration, Columbia University Press, New York.

Owen, R. 2004, State, Power, and Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East, Routledge, London.

Pinker, S. 2002, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, Penguin Group, New York.

Salame, G. 1987, The Foundations of the Arab State, Croom Helm, London.

Sayigh, Y. & Shlaim, A. 1997, The Cold War and the Middle East, Clarendon, Oxford.

Stewart, D. 2008, The Middle East Today: political, geographical, and cultural perspectives, Routledge, London.

Telhami, S. & Barnett, M. 2002, Identity and Foreign Policy in the Middle East, Cornell University Press, London.

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