Fascinating Time-Lapse Map Shows 75 years of America’s Friends, Enemies, and Frenemies in the Middle East

How It Works
Oct. 22 2013 10:19 AM

75 Years of America’s Mideast Entanglements in Less Than Three Minutes

Nicholas Danforth, co-author of the excellent Afternoon Map blog, created the very cool video map above that tracks America’s relationships in the Middle East since World War II. Enemies are in red, friends in blue, and more ambiguous relationships are purple. The vertical stripes represent when there’s a civil conflict with the U.S. supporting one side against the other.  

Danforth writes: “Symbols show when major realignments were the result of invasions (the tank), coups (the gun), treaties or diplomatic decisions (the pen), elections (the check), other peaceful transfers of power (the weird baton thingy) or popular uprisings (the protestor).”

Advertisement

Obviously the “with or us against us” way of looking at foreign policy is a bit limiting, and some of the classifications can seem arbitrary—I’d say we’re a bit more purple than blue with Egypt at the moment. But the zero-sum map is a good way of taking a shorthand look at how U.S. interests in the Middle East shifted as the region was transformed by events including World War II, the establishment of Israel, Arab nationalism, the rise of the Gulf petrostates, the Cold War, the Iran-Iraq War, the Gulf War, the War on Terror, and the Arab Spring. It's a lot of history for a two-and-a-half-minute video.   

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.