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History As It Happens

Jul 19, 2022

During his visit to the Middle East, President Biden explained the larger strategic purpose behind several agreements that he announced from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. "The bottom line is this trip is about once again positioning America and this region for the future. We are not going to leave a vacuum in the Middle East for Russia or China to fill,” Mr. Biden said. In his focus on thwarting foreign influence in a region where the U.S. has spent the better part of the past two decades fighting wasteful wars, there are echoes from a bygone era of American leadership. In 1979 the Greater Middle East was rocked by two seismic events whose consequences continue to shape the region’s politics and the U.S. role in it. In this episode, Bob Vitalis, an expert on Middle Eastern politics at the University of Pennsylvania, discusses the important parallels between 1979 and the geopolitical knots Mr. Biden is trying to untangle today.