Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Political Science

Major Professor

Mark Amen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Earl Conteh-Morgan, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Abdelwahab Hechiche, Ph.D.


uni-polar, bi-polar, containment, democratization, terrorism


A bi-polar world emerged at the end of World War II. The United States and the Soviet Union were the world’s superpowers and tensions between them spiraled consequently bringing about the Cold War. United States foreign policy during the Cold War revolved around containment policy. The Middle East during the Cold War was a region that the bi-polar world’s superpowers wanted to influence, and protect. The United States during the Cold War warned the Soviet Union through presidential doctrines that it would fight to keep the Middle East from communism, and the Soviet Union’s influence.

The bi-polar international power structure did not allow the United States the ability to pick its battles. The power structure that constrained the Cold War forced the United States to react to the Soviet Union, and it forced foreign policy makers to always consider the Soviet Union’s response to its policies. United States foreign policy in the Middle East during the Cold War threatened with military methods to solve local and regional instabilities. However, the United States was constrained by the bi-polar world thus, it was cautious of committing military troops in the region permanently and upsetting the region’s delicate balance of power.

United States foreign policy toward the Middle East has changed between 1981 and 2006. This change is in the direction of greater use of military methods to resolve what various administrations have perceived to be local and regional instability. This change in policy is partly attributable to changes in the United States power position in the world. A United States foreign policy shift in the Middle East occurred due to a change in the distribution of political power within the interstate system. This change has had the following result: the United States is no longer constrained by the bi-polar international power structure that characterized the Cold War period.

The collapse of the Soviet Union created the uni-polar international power structure. United States foreign policy is now capable of deploying the military to resolve local and regional instabilities in the Middle East, and that deployment has tended to become increasingly permanent in nature.