Clea Lutz Hupp, associate professor of history at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, highlights diplomatic efforts in the Middle East in her recently published book, The United States and Jordan: Middle East Diplomacy during the Cold War.
The book, published by I.B. Tauris and Co. of New York, focuses on the reactive nature of American policy in the Middle East and how each successive U.S. president tried and failed to solve the critical problems of the region.
Hupp also describes how the Cold War gave countries like Jordan a disproportionate importance in U.S. foreign policy. Her research is based on declassified documents from five presidential libraries and extensive travel in the Middle East conducting archival research and interviews.
Because of the secretive culture of Middle Eastern governments, Hupp said she sought special permission to view government documents and also relied on older, out-of-print sources.
Hupp also traveled to Syria and Egypt before those countries disintegrated politically.
The historian said she was most surprised by documents that described extensive cooperation with Israel by King Hussein of Jordan, especially declassified documents about the War of 1967 found in the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library.
“The evidence was so blatant in these documents that they were re-classified for a brief period, but by that time significant parts were already published in my dissertation,” she said.
Dr. Hupp’s work involved interviews with three former prime ministers of Jordan, a former head of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, and close friends of the late King Hussein.
A review by Hupp was also recently published in “H-Diplo,” an online journal for historians of international and diplomatic history. She reviewed “America’s Great Game,” written by historian Hugh Wilford about the Central Intelligence Agency’s failed efforts in the Middle East in the 1940s and 50s.
Hupp admits in her review an affinity for the Middle East, which “provides a worthy challenge for those who crave unique and unexpected experiences, and perhaps even a little chaos.”
Hupp often admonishes her students that, “You don’t change the Middle East; the Middle East changes you.”
Hupp joined UALR in 2006. She has assisted the Ottenheimer Library in the acquisition of an extensive collection of Middle East diplomatic documents. She has traveled extensively in the Middle East and speaks both Arabic and French.
Her work has been supported by numerous organizations such as the John F. Kennedy Foundation, the Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations, and the American Center of Oriental Research.