The Middle East
preamble to the Region
American involvement in the Middle East didn't start with Bush or at the discovery of oil. The first shots fired in the Mid East happened when Jefferson was president. Instead of paying extortion to Barbary Pirates of North Africa Jefferson decided to fight them. The Pirates were plundering western ships and enslaving the crews. The first American shots in the mid east happened August 1 1801 when the 36 gun frigate Enterprise defeated a pirate gunboat near the Mediterranean island of Malta(1 ).
American involvement didn't always mean war, in 1819 the first American Missionaries went to the region. Pliny Fisk and Levi Parsons went to the area to find "what good can be done for the Jews, for the Mohammedans [Muslims], for the Christians, for the people of Palestine, Egypt, and Syria.". Numerous more followed they brought printing presses that produced bibles and , four million books on science and medical texts, dictionaries, and school primers--in five Middle Eastern languages. To the end of the 1800's 300 schools had been established including Syrian Protestant College (now known as the American University in Beirut)(2).
Elections aren't new to the Mid East in the 1990s the region has seen an up swing in the electoral process. In 1995 Algeria has held a presidential election, Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Lebanon and Kuwait have had parliamentary elections, and Palestinians elected a legislative authority. The problem far as "American interest" goes isn't the lack of elections. But opposition of these interests from groups likes Islamist parties(3 ).
Part of the cause of this could be attributed to cultural clashed and an America policy that is seemingly insane at times.