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The Cold War in the Middle East or the Middle East in the Cold War?

Professor Lorenz Luthi discusses his latest book, Cold Wars: Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, with a special focus on his chapters on Arab-Israeli relations after World War II. Professor Luthi is joined on the panel by Guy Laron, Alex Shelby, and Eliza Gheorghe.

Date & Time

Apr. 5, 2021
11:00am – 12:30pm ET


Zoom Webinar


What was the Cold War that shook world politics for the second half of the twentieth century? Standard narratives focus on Soviet-American rivalry as if the superpowers were the exclusive driving forces of the international system. Lorenz M. Lüthi offers a radically different account, restoring agency to regional powers in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East and revealing how regional and national developments shaped the course of the global Cold War. Despite their elevated position in 1945, the United States, Soviet Union and United Kingdom quickly realized that their political, economic, and military power had surprisingly tight limits given the challenges of decolonization, Asian-African internationalism, pan-Arabism, pan-Islamism, Arab–Israeli antagonism, and European economic developments. A series of Cold Wars ebbed and flowed as the three world regions underwent structural changes that weakened or even severed their links to the global ideological clash, leaving the superpower Cold War as the only major conflict that remained by the 1980s.

In this discussion with Guy Laron, Alexander Shelby and Eliza Gheorghe, Professor Lüthi will discuss the Middle East angle of his book, with a focus on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Long one of the most controversial and significant issues of the 20th century, Professor Lüthi removes the "great power" lense and seeks to provide the perspective of those parties directly involved, Israel and the Arab states.

Hosted By

History and Public Policy Program

The History and Public Policy Program makes public the primary source record of 20th and 21st century international history from repositories around the world, facilitates scholarship based on those records, and uses these materials to provide context for classroom, public, and policy debates on global affairs.  Read more

Middle East Program

The Wilson Center’s Middle East Program serves as a crucial resource for the policymaking community and beyond, providing analyses and research that helps inform US foreign policymaking, stimulates public debate, and expands knowledge about issues in the wider Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.  Read more

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