Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
This thesis aims to demonstrate that the Middle East was not, as so often depicted, a mere peripheral concern as World War II progressed, but an integral part of President Roosevelt’s goals as he planned for the postwar era. This thesis seeks to demonstrate how the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt undertook an unprecedented policy of trade expansion and corporate investment in the Middle East, a region previously an unchallenged British and French sphere of influence. Using the Lend-Lease program to challenge the hegemony of France and Britain’s imperial preferential systems, Roosevelt achieved American economic penetration and dominance of the region’s oil as an economic keystone of a projected postwar non-colonial new world order. This story is told in this thesis by following the 30-year career and writings of William S. Culbertson. Yale Hamiltonian scholar and U.S. Tariff Commissioner appointed by President Wilson, Harding and Coolidge, he was also minister and ambassador in the Coolidge and Hoover administrations to two indebted countries threatening American corporate investments. Legal counsel to the National Foreign Trade Council, the leading corporate trade association of the time, Culbertson was corporate attorney in Washington, D.C. for such firms as Standard Oil of New Jersey. A founder of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and educator of future diplomats, he served as one of two top exports control officers in the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt. During World War II he was a Military Intelligence (G-2) officer at the new Pentagon, then an OSS officer, and finally President Roosevelt’s Personal Ambassador and Chief of the in 1944 U.S. Economic Mission to the Middle East, North Africa and Italy for postwar American investments. Culbertson’s active career in trade diplomacy spanned the Progressive Era, the so-called “isolationism” of the 1920s and 1930s, and the wartime integration of military and covert intelligence into the State Department’s and War Department’s postwar planning. He worked with some of the founders of the National Security Studies academic discipline that would help guide and shape the Cold War. In following his writings and career and the motivations behind them, this thesis incorporates a challenging broad view of American history in order to demonstrate the market forces that shaped American ideology, politics and foreign policy that influenced Culbertson. This thesis also offers detailed glimpses into the secret plans of the OSS and Lend-Lease administrators for the Middle East and the motivation for the extraordinary expansion of U.S. corporate trade in the modern era. In their effort to avoid both a fundamental change in the American political economy and a return of the Great Depression after the war, American leaders broke through the European preferential imperial system. Anticipating ending their temporary wartime alliance with the Soviet Union, American leaders in the last year of the war prepared to meet the challenge of the rising Soviet system by extending the traditional Open Door policy of expanding foreign markets. In this context, the Cold War did not begin in the postwar Middle East, as so often claimed, but began before American oil companies were even in the Middle East, with American military intervention against the young Bolshevik republic in 1917, as Premier Khrushchev recalled to naïve disbelieving American reporters during his 1959 visit to the U.S. This thesis examines the roots of the American “way of life” in the founding of an American capitalist state designed brilliantly by Alexander Hamilton, a child of British mercantilism. Through Culbertson’s master’s thesis on him, the thesis demonstrates that the continuum of an evolving expansionist policy stretched back to Jeffersonian democracy backed by a strong Hamiltonian State and endures up to the present day.
Number of Pages
Colby, Gerard, "William S. Culbertson and The Search for The Geopolitical Imperium" (2020). Graduate College Dissertations and Theses. 1256.