The Failure of Western Propaganda in the Middle East
  • James R. Vaughan
Part of the Cold War History Series book series (CWH)


Between 1945 and 1957, Western prestige and popularity in the Middle East declined precipitously. It might be argued that in 1945 large swathes of Middle Eastern opinion had already been alienated by decades of British imperial machinations in the region. The United States, on the other hand, emerged from the Second World War with unprecedented global prestige and significant reserves of goodwill founded upon a widespread understanding that, in contrast to the United Kingdom, Americans had generally played ‘a non-imperialistic role in world affairs’.1 If British propagandists had few illusions about the challenge that faced them in the post-war Middle East, life for their American counterparts must have seemed relatively simple. Few could have predicted the speed with which events would transform the psychological climate of the region. In April 1947, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, William Benton, informed the US ambassador in Cairo that

The United States is the only country which combines the qualities of moral leadership with the resources necessary to carry out a program of international information and cultural affairs based on principles international in their validity, free from narrow bias and from special pleading. Our leadership can be vital at a time when the world is in the midst of what Secretary Marshall calls a ‘riot of propaganda’.2


Foreign Policy Middle East Arab World Arab State British Council 
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© James R. Vaughan 2005

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  • James R. Vaughan

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