US Military Dead during Iraq War 1054
US Military Dead during Iraq War 1056
Yup. Most of that was the rug, spice and oil biz. There must have been...
Offically (as opposed to unofficial, private involvement), only since WWII have we been involved in a big way in the Middle East. Until then, it was Britain and France who were the meddlers (after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire), and they did their best to keep us out as long as possible.
US Military Dead during Iraq War 1055
And the US consistently acted in a fair manner with Iran and Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Emirates; and performed joint ventures with technology transfer in deals that were 50 years ahead of their time...
US relations with the Islamic world were quite good until after WWII. Morocco, for instance, was one of the first countries to recognize the US, and was the first to render honors to a US warship. American missionaries did a lot of good work, and were well respected. Things like the American University of Beirut, and a similar school in Constantinople (or whatever they called it then). After WWI, there was some sentiment in the region that if there had to be a mandate, the US should have it. Fortunately Wilson wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole.
Things started to go wrong after WWII, when the British and the French, over about a dozen years, pulled out, and we tried to take their place. Coups in Iran and Syria, for instance.
Our support for Israel didn't help, either.
See Kaplan's The Arabists, Copeland's Game of Nations, and Crane's Ropes of Sand for some interesting views (sometimes contradictory) of our early involvement in the region. See also Fromkin's Peace to End All Peace for Britain and France after WWI.