Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Tracy Campbell


This dissertation examines the significance of America’s interactions with stateless actors. It argues that it was groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Palestine’s refugees, and ethnic minorities, not the U.S. and Soviet governments, nor the state governments of the region, which dictated how the Cold War unfolded in the Middle East. These groups transformed the policy decisions, strategies, and alliances of both native regimes and the superpowers. Traditionally, historians have looked at the global politics of the Cold War through the lens of state-to-state relations. How have state governments interacted with each other and how did this influence the strategies and alliances of the superpowers? However, this work challenges state-centric models and points to new factors in the history of the United States and the world. Furthermore, much of the literature on groups such as Palestinian refugees and ethnic minorities has characterized them as victims, or actors without agency. Far from victims, this study contends that the Muslim Brotherhood, Palestine’s refugees, and minority groups such as the Armenians and Kurds defined the history of the period and, in key ways, were the primary agents of change. Not only does such research demonstrate the significance of non-state actors with regards to the Cold War, it also highlights the limits of postcolonialism. The non-state groups of this study did not fit into the nation-state system that developed in the Middle East after World War II. While these actors fit within imperial modes of power, the transition from Empire to nation-state left them stateless. As a result, they contested the nation-state system that came into being in the Middle East in the late 1940s and 1950s.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

Bryan Dissertation Fellowship, History Department, University of Kentucky, 2019.

Albisetti Dissertation Research Fellowship, History Department, University of Kentucky, 2018.

Samuel Flagg Bemis Dissertation Research Grant, The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, 2018.

Dorothy Leathers Graduate Fellowship, History Department, University of Kentucky, 2017.

Leslee K. Gilbert and Daniel E. Crowe Fellowship, History Department, University of Kentucky, 2017.