The US in the Middle East

In The



IAS 5940-001, Fall 2004

Prof. Joshua Landis


MEETING:      PHSC 360. Monday 9:00-11:45

OFFICE:          DAHT 316       Office Hours: Mon. and Wed. 5:00-5:45

                        Phone: 325-6356         e-mail:


BOOKS: To Purchase


Bickerton & Klausner, A Concise History Of The Arab-Israeli Conflict, Prentice Hall, 0-13-190004-8


David Fromkin, A Peace to End All Peace, New York: Avon Books, 1989. 0805068848


Patrick Seale, Asad: The Struggle for the Middle East, Berkeley, U. California P., 1988. 0520069765


Stephen Kinzer, All the Shah's Men, John Wiley & Sons; ( 2004) 0471678783


James Bamford, A Pretext for War, Doubleday Books; ( 2004)

ISBN: 0385506724


Rashid Khalidi, Resurrecting Empire,  Beacon Press; 2004. 0807002348


Bernard Lewis, The Crisis of Islam, Random House Trade; 2004.

ISBN: 0812967852


REQUIREMENTS: Everyone will write three 8 to 10--page essays. Roughly two essays will be presented each week. The papers must be done by Sunday and emailed to the class no later than 4:00 Sunday afternoon the day before class so that everyone can read them and prepare comments on them before coming to class. The students will present their papers very briefly in seminar and answer questions about them.


1. Class preparation: Students are expected to attend all seminar meetings and to read the assigned texts before coming to class so we can discuss them.

2. Your grade will be based on the essays and participation in seminar


  • Read the news of the Middle East daily, preferably the New York Times.
  • Papers must be handed in on time.


Week 1

1) Mon. Aug. 23

Introduction: The Coming of World War I

·        David Fromkin, A Peace to End All Peace, pp. 1-111.


Week 2

2) Mon. Aug. 30

War Aims and promises: the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence and Sykes-Pico

·        Fromkin, pp. 111-252. [141]

·        Bickerton and Klausner, A Concise History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, pp. 3-35. [64]


Week 3

3) Mon Sep. 8 Labor Day – no class


Week 4

4) Mon. Sept. 13

The New Middle East and Peace Making

·        Fromkin, pp. 252-568 .  [315]

·        Bickerton & Klausner, pp. 35-45. [10]

·        Khalidi, Resurrecting Empire, pp. 9-30. [20]

* Why did Fromkin name his book “A Peace to End all Peace”? Is it a good title? Could there have been a Peace to end all War? Explain.


Week 5

5) Mon. Sept. 20

1948 War

·        Bickerton & Klausner, pp. 46-115. [65]

·        Landis, “Syria and the 1948 War,” [60] This will be on my homepage.

·        Avi Shlaim, “Israel and the Arab Coalition in 1948,” [30]

·        Khalidi, Empire, pp. 118-127. [9]

·        Israeli Foreign Ministry, “History of The State of Israel: Foreign Domination,”

And “The War of Independence,” by Natanel Lorch:

·        Donald Neff, Fallen Pillars: U.S. Policy Towards Palestine and Israel Since 1945,” Chapters covering the 1948 War.

·        An overview of the Arab-Israeli conflict can be found at:

*  Why did the Jews win a state in Palestine and the Palestinians fail to win a state?


Week 6

6) Mon. Sept, 27

Iranian Coup of 1953

*Is Kinzer right?  Or was the coup good for America and Iran?


Week 7

7) Mon. Oct. 4

The Suez Crisis, 1967 War, and Black September


*Compare 1956 to 1967 – Why did Gamal Abdul Nasser and Arab Nationalism win in the first and lose in the second?

Week 8

8) Mon. Oct 11

The 1973 War, Oil and the Camp David Accords

* How did the 1973 War and the Camp David Accords change the balance of power in the Middle East? What did it mean for each of the actors? Consider the fortunes of Egypt, Syria, Israel, the US, the Soviet Union, Saudi Arabia, and the Palestinians. What did it mean for Pan-Arab Nationalism?

Week 9

9) Mon. Oct. 18

Civil War in Lebanon, the Intifada and the Syrian State

  • Seale, pp. 314-496. [180]
  • Bickerton, pp. 210-244. [80]
  • Thomas Friedman, “Hama Rules,” (on Syria) and “the Earthquake,” (the Intifada) in From Beirut to Jerusalem, pp. 76-106 [30]& 366-424 [56]

*Why did Israel and the US fail to bring peace to Lebanon?

*Was the outbreak of the Intifada a direct outgrowth of Israel’s Lebanon adventure? Explain

Week 10

10) Mon. Oct. 25

The Peace Process: Where Will it Lead?

"The Disintegration of Palestine" by Edward Sheehan, NYRB April 2004,   or

Also see the Exchange, about An Alternative Future: By Abraham H. Foxman, Amos Elon, Michael Walzer, Omer Bartov, Reply by Tony Judt: In response to Israel: The Alternative (October 23, 2003)  (Look at the interactive map)

Noam Chomsky, "Peace Process" Prospects,” July 27 2000 :

American Jewish Contributions to Israel:

“The Peace Process” from an Israeli perspective:   And

*Why did the peace process begun with the Oslo accords and pursued so assiduously by President Clinton break down? What went wrong?

* Can America make peace between Palestinians and Israelis? How?


Week 11

11) Mon. Nov. 1

The Iranian Revolution and Gulf Security

  • Zbigniew Brzesinski, "After the Carter Doctrine: Geostrategic Stakes and Turbulent Crosscurrents in the Gulf," in H. Sindelar & J. Peterson, ed., Crosscurrents in the Gulf: Arab Regional and Global Interests, London, 1988,  pp. 1-9. [9]
  • Murray Waas & Craig Unger, "Bush in the Loop: Bush's Secret Mission," in The New Yorker, pp. 64-83. [20]

Additional readings will be assigned.

*Why was Iran so important to the US and how has the US sought to compensate for it’s loss?


Week 12

12) Mon. Nov. 8


*Why do they hate us?

 Week 13

13) Mon. Nov. 15

Iraq and the first Gulf War The Gulf War

  • Khalidi, Empire, Chapter 3: “The Middle East: Geostrategy and Oil,” pp. 74-117. [37]
  • Sheldon L. Richman, “‘Ancient History’: U.S. Conduct in the Middle East
    World War Il and the Folly Of Intervention,” Cato Policy Analysis No. 159: August 16, 1991,
  • Nimrod Raphaeli, “Saudi Arabia: A Brief Guide To Its Politics and Problems,” MERIA, Volume 7, No. 3 - September 2003,
  • The Thirty-Year Itch By Robert Dreyfuss March/April 2003 Issue
  • Amatzia Baram, "The Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait: Decision Making in Baghdad," in Baram and Rubin eds., Iraq's Road to War, New York, 1993, pp. 5-37. [30]
  • Video, "The Gulf War," by "Frontline" of the Public Broadcasting Service.
  • Murray Waas & Craig Unger, "Bush in the Loop: Bush's Secret Mission," in The New Yorker, pp. 64-83. [20]
  • Gary Sick, "An American Perspective," in P. Jabber, ed., Great Power Interests in the Persian Gulf, New York, 1989. pp. 16-42.  [26]
  • Scott Armstrong, "Eye of the Storm: The $200 billion reason we had to go to War in the Middle East," in Mother Jones, Nov.\Dec. 1991, pp. 30ff.  [8]

*Why did Saddam Hussein Invade Iran and then Kuwait? Why did he think he could get away with it?

*Why did the US go to war against Iraq and why did it stop short of overthrowing Saddam Hussein?


Week 14

14) Mon. Nov. 22 – No Class.


Thanks Giving

Week 15

15) Mon. Dec. 29 

 Why Did the US Invade Iraq?

  • James Bamford, A Pretext for War, Doubleday Books; ( 2004)

* Why did the US decide to invade Iraq? What had changed from the Gulf War a decade earlier?


Week 16

16) Mon. Dec. 6

The Middle East and US Empire: An assessment


Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, “Likudniks and neocons seem to agree on 2 grand strategies: Saturday, July 17, 2004

Dore Gold, The Likud-US neoconservative cabal is a myth,” Tuesday, July 20, 2004

·         Stanley Hoffmann, America Goes Backward, New York Review of Books, Volume 50, Number 10 · June 12, 2003.

·         On Neoconservatives and Their Foreign Policy Thinking (By Searching Around The Articles On This Site You Can Find Out Who The Neoconservatives Are

Empire Builders: Neoconservatives And Their Blueprint For American Power



*Is the US an imperial power and should it be one?

*What is new about the neoconservatives and their ideology?