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From Cold War-era coups to "enhanced interrogation" in the "war on terror," the CIA has courted the suspicion and hatred of the Muslim world.Like many Middle East hands in the State Department, the CIA Arabists believed that the region and its oil reserves were the key to U.S. victory in the Cold War.Even more important as a source of CIA Arabism was the American missionary tradition in the Arab world that, like the British presence there, dated back to the 19th century. Admiration for Arab culture, even a mystical faith in American-Arab friendship, was a powerful impulse within a U.S. government agency now widely seen as one of the Arab world's greatest foes.Still, it is striking how quickly the U.S. changed course from supporting to attacking Arab nationalists. In the end, CIA Arabism proved a slender reed on which to rest future hopes of American-Arab cooperation.
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