Libya and the United States, Two Centuries of Strife

Libya and the United States, Two Centuries of Strife

by Ronald Bruce St John
     
 

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Diplomatic relations between the United States and Libya have rarely followed a smooth path. Washington has repeatedly tried and failed to mediate lasting solutions, to prevent recurrent crises, and to secure its own national interests in a region of increasing importance to the United States. Libya and the United States, Two Centuries of Strife provides a

Overview

Diplomatic relations between the United States and Libya have rarely followed a smooth path. Washington has repeatedly tried and failed to mediate lasting solutions, to prevent recurrent crises, and to secure its own national interests in a region of increasing importance to the United States. Libya and the United States, Two Centuries of Strife provides a unique and up-to-date analysis of U.S.-Libyan relations, assessing within the framework of conventional historical narrative the interaction of the governments and peoples of Libya and the United States over the past two centuries.

Drawing on a wide range of new and unfamiliar material, Ronald Bruce St John, an expert with over thirty years of experience in international relations, charts the instances of ignorance, misunderstanding, treachery, and suffering on both sides that have shaped and limited commercial and diplomatic intercourse.

St John argues that Cold War strategies resulted in a paradoxical and ambiguous U.S. policy toward Libya during the Idris regime of the 1960s, strategies that contributed to the bankruptcy of that monarchy. Following the Libyan revolution, the U.S. wrongly believed Qaddafi would become an ally in support of U.S. policy to keep Soviet influence and communism out of the region; his failure to do so marked the beginning of an era of political tension and mutual distrust.

Libya and the United States, Two Centuries of Strife documents how long-standing policy differences over the Palestinian issue and such terrorist acts as the destruction of the U.S. embassy in Tripoli and the Pan Am explosion over Lockerbie in 1988 resulted in a sharp deterioration of relations. St John contends that the ensuing demonization of Libya and the U.S. policy of confrontation, which has spanned successive administrations in Washington, have ironically often not served American interests in the region but, rather, have facilitated Qaddafi's survival.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Ronald Bruce St John provides a comprehensive, meticulously researched history of US-Libyan relations of the last 200 years. His book succeeds well in describing the sources of tension, conflicting interests, and misperceptions that have determined the course of interaction between the two countries."—Journal of North American Studies

"Balanced, very informational. . . . Highly recommended."—Choice

"This is a wonderfully measured, insightful, comprehensive treatment of the subject that will, in my estimation, become a standard not only for the academic community but also for the policy and intelligence community."—Dirk Vandewalle, Dartmouth College

Foreign Affairs
From the derring-do of a handful of Americans marching "to the shores

of Tripoli" in the early 1800s to the atrocity of the PanAm jet bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1987, U.S.-Libyan relations have often been sharply confrontational. This feature is all the more absurd today, since it involves a superpower positioned against a minor regional state. Libya has never presented (and could never present) the challenge to America that Egypt, Iran, and Iraq have at times posed. Yet to mention these three along with Muammar al-Qaddafi's Libya illustrates just how much modern Middle Eastern diplomacy revolves around the bilateral face-off between the great-power outsider and a regional challenger. Libya scholar St John offers a straightforward but critical historical account of U.S.-Libyan relations, relying heavily on U.S. sources. The subject is interesting enough on its own, but this book is also useful for outlining a persistent pattern in Middle Eastern diplomacy.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780812236729
Publisher:
University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
Publication date:
05/28/2002
Pages:
264
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.99(d)

Meet the Author

Ronald Bruce St John, the author of more than three dozen books and articles on Libya, including the Historical Dictionary of Libya and Qaddafi's World Design: Libyan Foreign Policy, 1969-1987, serves on the International Advisory Board of the Journal of Libyan Studies.

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