. . Each seems called by some secret design of Providence one day to hold in its hands the destinies of half the world"1. It would appear; therefore, that history has destined these two nations to be at each other until a final and decisive victory is achieved by one over the other. But that time has not yet arrived, even though the cold war was declared to have been ended on December 3, 1989 at the conclusion of the Malta summit between George Bush Sr. and Mikhail Gorbachev. The involvement of America and Russia in the Arab-Israeli conflict is considered by many as 'part and parcel' of the cold war and being fought in the Middle East theater. We discuss as to what extent this line of argument is a sufficient explanation of 'the super powers' involvement in the conflict.
With the withdrawal of the colonial powers, Britain and France, from the Middle East after WW II, there was a virtual political vacuum in the region. By 1948 Soviet Union had consolidated its hegemony over Eastern Europe. The 'Truman doctrine' put a rein to its further 'expansion' into Greece or Turkey. But along with consolidating its domination over the East European nations, Soviet Union was busy trying to build and expand its influence among the 'Islamic' nations to its south. The 'war-weary' Britain and France left it to the US to counter the Soviet influence2. Israel has been the 'natural ally' of US for this purpose. But strenuous efforts have also been made to enlist the support of the Arab nations to contain and if possible, eliminate, the inroads of Soviet influence into their region3.
The American stance
The US has often been, or at least appeared to have been, an honest broker of peace between the warring Israelis and the Arabs. However, the American stance declared and reiterated often and clearly articulated by Carter has been that: "it is absolutely crucial that no one in our country or around the world ever doubt that our number one commitment in the Middle East is to protect the right of Israel to exist".4 This commitment has included and comprehensively involved the pledge to promote also "the prosperity of Israel".5 In regard to the Arabs the American policy has been to use aid as a strategic tool and bring them within the orbit of 'American-dependency' syndrome. Egypt first, and later Jordan had been brought within this orbit by 1990. A second objective was "to maintain the arms balance in the Middle East". The US has been an arms supplier to sundry clients in the region such as the pre-revolutionary Iran, the Saudis, the Israelis and the anti-soviet Afghan guerrillas. In this balancing act, the US was careful to see that the scale had always tipped in favor of its clients. These objectives were corollaries or rather subservient to two other objectives, namely to 'maintain a steady flow of Iranian and Arab oil to the Western states of the capitalist world'; and to 'prevent Soviet expansionism'. Edwards and Hinchcliffe say that: "The United States saw it as its objective (especially following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and the collapse of the pro-American regime in Iran) to 'protect' the independence of the Arab states and to defend their free choice to continue to supply oil to the West unhindered by the Soviet Union or any of its allies in the area."6 In their skeletal form these were the 'mainframe' of Us policy