As its interests have become deeply tied to the Middle East, the
United States has long sought to develop a usable understanding of
the people, politics, and cultures of the region. In Imagining
the Middle East
, Matthew Jacobs illuminates how Americans'
ideas and perspectives about the region have shaped, justified, and
sustained U.S. cultural, economic, military, and political
Jacobs examines the ways in which an informal network of academic,
business, government, and media specialists interpreted and shared
their perceptions of the Middle East from the end of World War I
through the late 1960s. During that period, Jacobs argues, members
of this network imagined the Middle East as a region defined by
certain common characteristics--religion, mass politics,
underdevelopment, and an escalating Arab-Israeli-Palestinian
conflict--and as a place that might be transformed through U.S.
involvement. Thus, the ways in which specialists and policymakers
imagined the Middle East of the past or present came to justify
policies designed to create an imagined Middle East of the future.
Jacobs demonstrates that an analysis of the intellectual roots of
current politics and foreign policy is critical to comprehending
the styles of U.S. engagement with the Middle East in a post-9/11