cia trains egyptians in psychological warfare -- 10/28/16

Today's selection -- from Ike's Gamble by Michael Doran. President Dwight Eisenhower wanted to have a broad and favorable alliance with Arab nations, and so worked to build an alliance with Egypt and its leader Gamal Abdel Nasser -- the presumed leader of a pan-Arab coalition called the Arab League. President Harry Truman, Eisenhower's predecessor, had strongly supported the creation of the new nation of Israel, and presided over the United States' recognition of Israel, even though the U.S. State Department had shown concern that it would cause a backlash from the Arab nations. In part because of this, Eisenhower was interested in a more pro-Arab policy, and courted the favor of Egypt by helping mediate the reluctant 1956 departure of the British from the Suez Canal, where they had presided since 1869.

Yet the U.S. was clumsy in its approach to the Arabs, not recognizing rivalries among these nations. Further, the U.S. was actively promoting a defensive alliance among the so-called "Northern Tier" of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan, which were Muslim nations geographically close to America's emerging nemesis, the Soviet Union -- and Egypt objected to this alliance. Despite its efforts, the U.S. fell short of establishing a durable alliance with Egypt, especially after the U.S. declined to finance the Aswan Dam, and Egypt turned to the Soviets. And Nasser's increasingly anti-Western speeches were broadcast throughout the Arab world on equipment paid for by American taxpayers:

1958 newsreel Baghdad Pact -- Universal Newsreal 

"As soon as the Northern Tier [defense alliance] started to take shape, Nasser's pro­pagandists denounced it as a menace to the Arab League -- a plot to divide the Arabs in order to protect Israel and the British. In the first half of 1954, the denunciations grew increasingly shrill. By July, Prime Minister Menderes of Turkey was complaining to the American ambassador in Ankara about the personal attacks against him that were appearing in Egyptian propaganda, which, at the same time, was denouncing the Turco-Pakistani pact 'as an instru­ment calculated to destroy the Arab League.'

"[Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel] Nasser was publicly announcing a policy of neutrality in the Cold War, attacking an American ally, and heaping scorn on [Secretary of State John Foster] Dulles's major foreign policy initiative in the Middle East -- yet Washington lodged no protest in Cairo. Remarkably, the Ameri­cans were so confident in Nasser's commitment to the West that they actually furnished him with the tools to spread his revolution­ary message across the Arab world. As the historian Kenneth Osgood has amply documented, it was with American aid, in the form of direct assistance from the CIA, that the Egyptians set up their formidable propaganda system.

Egyptian propaganda

"In addition to providing Nasser with the most powerful broadcasting equipment in the Arab world, the CIA loaned the Egyptians experts on psychological warfare, including the legendary Paul Linebarger, whom one admirer in the CIA viewed as 'perhaps the leading practitioner of "black" and "gray" propaganda in the Western World.'The Americans also pro­vided audience analyses, training in all aspects of broadcasting, and grants for officials working in the media to travel to the United States, where they toured broadcast facilities and learned trade­craft. The CIA has long been accused of facilitating the transfer of ex-Nazi intelligence officers to Egypt, some of whom contributed to Egyptian propaganda. Among them was Franz Bunsch, a for­mer aide to Joseph Goebbels best known for his anti-Semitic tract The Sexual Habits of Jews. Whether the CIA was truly responsible for the appearance of the Nazis in Egypt, the full-throttled cam­paign of incitement against Iraq that erupted upon the signing of the Turco-Iraqi Pact was certainly made possible, in part, by the generous assistance of the American taxpayer."


Michael Doran


Ike's Gamble: America's Rise to Dominance in the Middle East


Free Press


Copyright 2016 by Michael Doran


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