America's Great Game

America's Great Game

The CIA's Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East

Book - 2016
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Perseus Publishing
From the 9/11 attacks to waterboarding to drone strikes, relations between the United States and the Middle East seem caught in a downward spiral. And all too often, the Central Intelligence Agency has made the situation worse. But this crisis was not a historical inevitability—far from it. Indeed, the earliest generation of CIA operatives was actually the region's staunchest western ally.

In America's Great Game, celebrated 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 “Kim” Roosevelt was the grandson of Theodore Roosevelt and the first head of CIA covert action in the region; his cousin, Archie Roosevelt, was a Middle East scholar and chief of the Beirut station. The two Roosevelts joined combined forces with Miles Copeland, a maverick covert operations specialist who had joined the American intelligence establishment during World War II. 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. Yet they were also 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. Despite their good intentions, 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 irrevocably destabilized the nations with which they empathized. Their efforts, and ultimate failure, would shape the course of U.S.–Middle Eastern relations for decades to come.

Based on a vast array of declassified government records, private papers, and personal interviews, America's Great Game tells the riveting story of the merry band of CIA officers whose spy games forever changed U.S. foreign policy.

Publisher: New York : Basic Books, 2016
Copyright Date: ©2013
ISBN: 9780465096282
Characteristics: xxiv, 342 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, map ; 23 cm


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Sep 15, 2014

... grand strategic considerations relating to communism and oil that influenced US Middle East policies generally in the early Cold War period.

Sep 15, 2014

Indiana Jones, it seems: was not a complete invention.


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Nov 05, 2013

An incredible retelling of the events: "Despite their good intentions, these "Arabists" propped up authoritarian regimes..." A rather extravagant reframing of "They overthrew popular, democratically-elected governments who were enacting the will of the citizenry." A reviewer mentions the phrase, "benign influence" in the context of Aramco, (owned by Rockefeller, Mellon and Rothschild), yet many died due to machinations to prop up Aramco's power and influence. (Naturally, the Shah of Iran who replaced the overthrown president, would invest Iran's billions in Rockefeller's Chase Manhattan Bank.) This complete alteration of real historical fact is the greatest argument as to the crucial importance of understanding financial history or economic history: if we don't know the underlying financial agendas, they will always claim their profits came accidentally or from "hard work" not rigging everything in their favor, while killing countless innocent people. (It was no coincidence that Kermit Roosevelt ended up as VP at Gulf Oil (owned by the Mellon family) and his cousin, Archie or Archibald, ended up a special advisor to David Rockefeller and VP of his Chase Manhattan Bank (small world, huh?) - - perhaps as payment for their involvement with the coup in Iran in the early 1950s when they tried to nationalize Aramco's oil fields there?) Today, the major question is whether we should call it the Roosevelt family, or since intermarriage among the rich is so common, the Roosevelt-Warburg family? The author's bizarre notion or premise, that the CIA was that region's (the Middle East) staunchest western ally, is so cognitively dissonant as to bugger belief? It leaves this commenter completely dumbfounded! The colossal thievery of foreign nations' resources isn't "misadventure" it instead constitutes crimes against humanity! [Curious that around 2000, Chris Mellon, then with the D.I.A., will "leak" that Iran almost has a nuclear weapon! In 2000? Chris Mellon, of the fabulously wealthy Mellon family? There's that Mellon name again?]


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