Hulda Kjeang Mørk - Research School on Peace and Conflict

Hulda Kjeang Mørk

Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History, University of Oslo

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In today’s polarized situation between Israel and the US on one side, and Iran on the other, partnership and co-operation is not the first thing that comes to mind. During large parts of the Cold War, however, these three were in covert alignment. Common interests (and enemies) appeared between Iran and Israel in the early 1950’s, and the seeds of an alignment started to take root. US support of this secret entente eventually developed into actual triangular cooperation. This informal relationship is the topic of my PhD project. 
My project focuses on the Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969), and on how American foreign policy was formed towards this alignment, and possibly within it. During the presidency of Lyndon B Johnson, the US moved closer to both Iran and Israel, while a gulf was growing between radical Arab states and America. The Johnson administration departed from the seemingly more evenhanded Middle East policies inherited from President Kennedy, and endeavored to strengthen links with pro-Western regimes. Existing research indicates that the relations altered towards a greater degree of equality during the latter half of the 1960s. The smaller states had acquired a position from where they, to a larger degree than before, could advance their own interests, even when at odds with those of their great ally. I aim to explain how and why this happened.