John F. Kennedy became President of the United States in 1961, in the middle of the Cold War. Prior to Kennedy’s presidency, the United States was focused on the containing communism and creating friendships with predictable, anticommunist nations. When Kennedy was sworn in, he maintained the containment policy, but began to focus on building new relationships in the Middle East and in Africa.1 In order to combat the Soviet Union, Kennedy believed it was crucial to establish relationships with nonaligned states so as to contain communism solely through alliances. This mindset brought the Middle East, particularly Egypt and its nationalist leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser, to the forefront of American foreign policy. How did the United States’ Cold War lens interact with on the ground Middle Eastern politics? Although Kennedy worked to establish a friendly relationship with Nasser, it proved much more complex and difficult than he intended. In spite of Kennedy’s hopes of a friendship to help contain communism, the Cold War had very little effect on the relationship between Egypt and the US. Rather, it was the politics of the Middle East that would define the strength of the relationship. This paper will focus on Kennedy’s efforts to build a relationship with Nasser by examining Arab nationalism, foreign aid and friendship, regional politics, as well as Nasser’s relationship with communism, and ultimately how this relationship would fail.
Josephine Lippincott, Arcadia University
"Kennedy and Nasser - A Failed Relationship,"
The Compass: Vol. 1
, Article 7.
Available at: https://scholarworks.arcadia.edu/thecompass/vol1/iss3/7