Middle East Supply Centre, The

By Martin W. Wilmington
Edited by Laurence Evans

Hardcover : 9780873950817, 248 pages, June 1971


During World War II, the United States and the United Kingdom cooperated in the successful operation of a regional organization which indisputably saved the Middle East for the Allied cause and which, if perpetuated, might have formed the basis for regional peace and stability. This was the Middle East Supply Centre, whose creation, evolution, responsibilities, and activities are described analytically in this volume.

It was an agency, says the author, "bestriding the Middle East economy like a giant and imposing its views and wishes on the production and consumption of nearly 100 million people toiling in a vast sub-continent. " Even in the midst of global war, M. E.S. C. not only supervised the feeding of the people of the region, but also assured that industries kept producing and that the economy poured out large quantities of munitions and quartermaster items for Allied armies in the Middle East and beyond.

At the end of the war, diverse proposals were made to convert M. E.S. C. into a "regional bureau" that would bring the wartime seeds of regional cooperation to permanent flowering for betterment and peace in the Middle East under the United Nations, under Anglo-American sponsorship, or under the Middle East countries themselves. Failure to obtain American participation resulted in the collapse of these efforts and M. E.S. C. was dissolved in November 1945.

Beyond the author's narrative and analysis of the Centre's wartime logistical activities, he has placed the whole enterprise in a far larger setting: Anglo-American collaboration: the imperious influence of world powers; the aspirations of underdeveloped nations; and the growth in the area of "economic regionalism. "

Commander Sir Robert Jackson, wartime Director General of the Centre who now holds appointments with several governments in the Third World and is also Senior Consultant to the United Nations Development Programme, has written the foreword for the book, in which he views the activities—and the legacy—of the Centre from the perspective of more than 25 years.

Martin W. Wilmington was a Fellow at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University prior to his death in 1964. He also had served as professor of economics at Pace College and as an advisor on industrial development to the City of New York. Born in Berlin in 1915, he left Germany as a refugee in 1936 and studied at the University of Geneva, which awarded him the Licence es Sciences économiques. Later he came to the United States, serving in the U. S. Army during World War II and continuing his studies at New York University, where he received the M. A. and Ph. D. degrees in economics. He traveled extensively in the Middle East while gathering material for this book. The editor, Professor Laurence Evans of the State University of New York at Binghamton, supervised the final preparation of the manuscript, adding U. S. State Department archival materials which had not yet been made public at the time of the author's research.