Dianne Kirby: Communism, Islam and US Foreign Policy at the Beginning of the Cold War

Abstract

In: Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung 2009. Berlin: Aufbau-Verlag, S. 163–179

Dianne Kirby explores how America’s Cold War policies of encouraging religion and destroying the left facilitated the rise of political Islam. By the 1950s the direction of Islam concerned American officials worried that religion was an important consideration in communist bloc policies of outreach, especially as both China and the Soviet Union had sizeable Muslim populations. Truman, followed by Eisenhower, saw Islam as a counter to Soviet moves in the Middle East and the influence of the radical, secular forces aligned with the left. Western propaganda in the region used Soviet atheism and repression of religion to suggest that the Christian West and the Muslim East confronted a common global foe opposed to religious faith. American support for the Saudi leadership meant support for the excessively conservative Wahhabi pan-Islamic movement. American preferences for the most stridently anti-communist, anti-Soviet, and conservative representatives of Islam created a situation in which otherwise unpopular and unrepresentative versions of Islam were able, over time, to secure a power and influence they otherwise would have been unlikely to attain.

Über die Autorin

Dianne Kirby, Dr., Studium und Promotion an der University of Hull, Dozententätigkeit an den Universitaten Hull, Stirling, Manchester Metropolitan, York and Newcastle-upon-Tyne, seit 1999 Senior Lecturer in American Studies an der University of Ulster (UK). Forschungsschwerpunkte: Verbindungen zwischen Religion und Politik auf internationaler Ebene, insbesondere während des Zweiten Weltkriegs und in der Anfangsphase des Kalten Krieges. Veröffentlichungen u. a.: Church, State and Propaganda, Hull 1999; Hg.: Religion and the Cold War, Houndmills 2003.