Contemporary Social Issues: Analyzing Critically, Arguing Persuasively

Fall and Winter, 2004-05

Winter Quarter

U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East

[Winter Seminars]

Writing assignments (link to...)

Legistlative Hearings Photos

This Friday, March 11, at 10am: Potluck-Brunch at Chuck's: 2304 Walnut Rd. NW. [Bus #41 stops on Division at Walnut (.9 miles N of Harrison). 2304 is on the N side of Walnut, seventh house from corner of Division - behind gorgeous pink, large quince hedge]

The United States is clearly at a crossroads. The outcome of the U.S. war on Iraq will shape the definition of and life in the United States for decades to come. The war’s outcome will also shape the lives of millions of people throughout the increasingly interconnected global world.

We’ll look at the origins, rationales and possible outcomes for US foreign policy in the Middle East and examine the promises of the now uncertain “New World Order.”

Many U.S. policy makers in the 1990s asserted that the U.S. was on the verge of becoming the unchallenged superpower. President George H.W. Bush had announced a “New World Order” in 1990. In 1991, the “evil empire” of the Soviet Union had formally dissolved. The globe was open to the U.S.
The neo-liberal policies of privatization, de-regulation and market supremacy administered by new economic pacts such as North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Free Trade Area of the Americas, (FTAA) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) would spread the democracy of US capitalism to the entire globe.

This economic framework would be complemented by U.S. military assistance programs designed to ensure domestic security in countries previously outside the US orbit, such as the newly independent Central Asian Republics.
At the end of the 1990s, however, an “anti-globalization” social movement challenged this US led economic framework. This social movement brought World Trade Organization policy advancement to a stand-still, prevented the FTAA from formalizing and held World Social Forums to advance a counter vision of global governance.

The capacity of the US military to provide economic protection was also challenged. With the destruction of the World Trade Towers in September 2001 and the continued warfare in Afghanistan and Iraq, the presumed omnipotence of the US military as an instrument of US foreign policy came into question.
We’ll begin our examination of US foreign policy in the Middle East by comparing US policies with those of the British Empire as it attempted to divide up the Ottoman Empire after World War I. Many of the underlying conflicts present in the contemporary Middle East are a product of this imperial effort. We’ll then move quickly through the neo-liberal economic and military policies of the “New World Order” as announced by President Bush in 1990, the resistance to this “new order” and the rise of neo-conservative policy makers in the administration of his son, George W. Bush.

We’ll conclude our examination by analyzing various options for U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East from neo-conservative, C.I.A. and Islamic perspectives.

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