The cold war analysts in the presidential administrations were not influenced by a complete fantasy, there was limited and indirect Soviet influence in the Middle East and in Lebanon during both of the crises. However, the Soviet Union for the most part was the rational superpower of the two; despite American or American allies’ presence in the Middle East, the Soviet Union never attempted to act militantly as to provoke the Arab states into war. There was a natural “link formed between the USSR and the radical Arab states” in that both sides, regardless of true nature, strongly supported the “denunciation of imperialism” (Yapp 415). Despite their alliance to the United Arab Republic, the Soviets strictly rationed the supply of arms and never questioned Israel’s right to exist. Strategically, the Soviet Union was different from the United States in that before the invasion of Afghanistan it never directly engaged in a Cold War conflict.
Although the Soviets are not guilt free from escalating the Middle Eastern conflict, Moscow never fully supported the Arab states like the United States had supported Israel. To the Soviet Union the Middle East was not as economically important as it was to the Americans. According to William R. Polk, the Soviet bloc controlled 15% of the World oil deposit compared to the 5% that the U.S. controlled and the mere 2% controlled by Western Europe. The Persian Gulf oil supply and the pipelines going through the heart of the region in dispute was a greater asset to the United States than it was to the Soviet Union. Although cautious of their approach in opposing the United States in the Near East, the Soviet Union had successfully manipulated militant organizations and proxy armies to secure Soviet interests, partially following the policies of the United States in the Middle East. The Soviet Union had a tremendous sense of public relations and began making alliances throughout the region. For example, “Moscow show[ed] increased interest in the PLO as a means of winning friends in the Arab World” and by indirectly supporting the Palestinian cause won the credibility of many Arab regimes (Gowers, Walker 65). By arming and supporting the Palestinian cause, by the 1980s “Moscow was PLO’s most important ally” (Fisk 173). However, by supporting radical and semi independent factions within the PLO such as the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Soviet Union was able to have greater influence over both the PLO and PFLP. According to Vladimir Bukovsky’s ‘Soviet Archives’, there is much evidence that the Soviet Union, through the KGB, supported and armed radical Marxist organizations like the PFLP. By supporting radically Marxist elements, the Soviet Union severely hindered the peace process in the region by diverting the PLO authority over the many Palestinian factions and by indirectly instigating the continuous bloodshed that continued in the region.
However, through events such as the Hungarian Uprising of 1956 and the Prague Spring of 1968, the Soviet Union became highly cautious of their client and satellite states and did not provide the extent of the unlimited arms supply that the United States provided for its allies in the region. Despite the destructive Soviet strategy in the region, it was not of the scale that the American foreign policy makers had envisioned and it was not the deciding factor in the deconstruction of the nation of Lebanon.