Gilbert Schramm: Where we are in the Middle East

Introduction:  An overview of issues related to the Middle East. 60 minutes

East meets West (30 minutes)
A brief review of the troubled history of the long relationship between Europe and the Muslim world and the way the Islam is represented in misleading ways by Western academics, politicians, and media.

American Firsts (30 minutes)
Early US encounters with the Middle East from 1780-1920 are discussed, with special emphasis on America’s first war, US missionary activity in the Middle East and America’s role in the peace settlement after World War One (also known as the “peace to end all peace.”

Nationalism, Imperialism and WWII (30 minutes)
This discussion focuses on the European notion of the “nation” and nationalism. We go on to touch on 19th century European imperialism as a feature of nationalism. We then move to the rise of US global power, and how America’s experience in WWII, especially the holocaust, helped shape American views of the region.

American Power and Arab Independence (30 minutes)
We begin with a brief review of the region in 1945 and the problems of post-colonialism and move on to discuss markets, oil, Israel, and how the US fixation on the Cold War and communism helped create some of today’s problems in the region. We conclude with a few more observations on “the Clash of Civilizations.”

A Short Talk about Sources (30 minutes)

We take a short break to talk about the sources we are using—books, websites, films, etc., and to regroup before we go on to a country by country tour of hot spots in the region. A few observations on the durability of “Orientalist” stereotypes conclude the session.

Afghanistan: War Without Winners—Background Culture and History (30 minutes)
This talk centers around the British legacy of the 19th century, efforts at modernization, and the rejection of modernism, from about 1750 to 1979.

Afghanistan: Russian Invasion and Mujahedeen resistance (30 minutes) In this episode, we back track a little to explore the evolution of the Mujahedeen in the refuge camps of Pakistan and go on to discuss resistance to Russian occupation.

Afghanistan: Rise of the Taliban and US Invasion (30 minutes)
Here we discuss the nature of the Taliban and the post 9/11 US invasion: the premises it was based on and reasons why it has failed to stabilize or bring peace to Afghanistan.

Iran 1: Putting Down Democracy (30 minutes)
After a brief background starting in the 19th century, the focus here is on the democratic revival, the 1954 US coup against Mossadegh, the rise and fall of the Shah and the rise of the Islamic Republic in 1979.

Iran 2: Shia Revival (30 minutes)
We discuss some key features of Iran’s Shia version of Islam and some of its implications for Iranian politics and social structure, before going on to talk about the revolution of 1979.

Iran 3: Who Did What to Whom? (30 minutes)
Here we concentrate on the 1980-88 war between Iraq and Iran and America’s attempts to demonize the Iranian regime.

Iran 4: Nuclear or Not? (30 minutes)
The merits of the JCPOA (the Iran Nuclear Deal) and the history of Iran’s peaceful Nuclear
program and the many false charges surrounding the alleged existence of a secret weapons program are reviewed.

Iran 5: Conclusions (30 minutes)
The various reasons for America’s aggressive policy towards Iran are reviewed and a more balanced perspective on the regime is presented.

Iraq 1: The Rise of Saddam Hussein (30 minutes)
The British legacy in Iraq is reviewed and some general points about the Arab core
States (Egypt, Syria, and Iraq) are made. Saddam’s rise to power and the Iraq-Iran war are covered.

Iraq 2: The Background of the Basic Policy Problem (30 minutes)

General background of US Middle East policy/ declining effectiveness of US policy/ implications of Internal US debates on foreign policy from Nixon to Reagan


Iraq 3: Saddam’s Iraq as A US client state (30 minutes)

(4 minutes of fundraising notes)   Seeing Iraq from 1980 to present as a continuity/ rise of the Neo-cons/ flawed intelligence policy/ Iraq in 1980 as a “model”  Arab state (secular/modern/non-communist)/ Iran –Iraq War and US backing of Saddam Hussein/ invasion of Kuwait and lead in to the First Gulf War


Iraq 4: Saddam’s Invasion of Kuwait and the First Gulf War (30 minutes)

(3 minutes of fundraising )  Glaspies ‘green light”/ lack of planning/ the war and its messy end/ sanctions, inspections and no fly zones/lead in to 2003 US invasion.

Iraq 5: Setting the stage for Invading Iraq (30 minutes)

Neocons and Vulcans/ infrastructure damage from the First Gulf War / Precision weapons and Patriots/ rhetoric drives policy/ Israel/ Intelligence problems/ consequences of the First Gulf War that lead to the 2003 invasion.

Iraq 6: 9/11 and the Fallacious case for War (30 minutes)

The absence of Islamic issues prior to 9/11/ Bush election and first mistakes/ 9/1 response/ Iraq becomes a target/ rationales for war—a campaign of lies/ ethnocentric arguments and how American cultural tendencies and values are used to justify the war/ a web of hypocrisy and projection. Creating a framework for a Fiasco.

Iraq 7: Election Invasion: (30 minutes)

Discussion of 2016 election results/ Bush as a template for Trump/Reflections on the incoming administration/ 9/11—War with…. who?/A war looking for a target/ alternatives to war ignored.

Iraq 8: The War on Terror: (30 minutes)

Iraq as a scapegoat/Pre 9/11 lack of Terror in the US / oxymoronic thinking and the false premises of the war on Terror/ fear-mongering/ no evidence of Iraqi link to 9/11/ building the false case for war—group think/ Edward Said vs. Bernard Lewis/ the Orientalist-neocon academic case for overthrowing Iraq/ The Israeli connection—“The Secret History of the Iraq War”/ Netanyahu’s false testimony for war.

Iraq 9: Evidence and Intelligence: (30 minutes)

Intelligence gathering as intercultural research/ distorting lenses intelligence is filtered through/ Think tanks/pundits/ immigrant voices/ enterprise institute conference/ Spider marks-evidence follies/ drones and ricin/ 2002 inspectors allowed back into Iraq/  the real assumptions—stereotypes of “bad” Muslims and the idea we can’t lose.

Iraq 10: Actual Invasion: (30 minutes)

First strike on Saddam fails/ Rumsfeld’s military blunders—not enough troops or supplies/ swift military success/ Iraqi army disappears/ no plan for follow-up/ disappearance of police/ not enough troops to secure country/ looting and chaos countrywide/borders, weapons and WMD sites not secured/ Jay Garner lasts 2 months/ Jerry Bremer / Iraqi army disarmed/ slide into chaos.

Iraq 11. The Folly Continues (30 minutes)

David Kay-weapons inspections and e-mail security/ / Desert Crossing/ Abu Ghraib/ Anthony Shadid and bad relations between US military and Iraqi police/ Blackwater’s low-water/ Ideology drives policy in CPA hiring and spending/ 2005 Haditha massacre/ Keane steps in/ Patraeus writes a new counterinsurgency manual/ Fallujah

Iraq 12. Counterinsurgency Reconsidered (30 minutes)

Counter-insurgency concepts/ translation follies-disbanding the Kurdish Peshmerga/ Main points of counter insurgency/ we finally decide to protect the civilian population/ the surge slowly restores a semblance of order/ regional blowback in Syria, Turkey, and beyond/ by any measure or foreign policy model the Invasion was a disaster

Iraq 13. Iraqi Wrap-up (30 minutes)

Review of Iraq from 1970 / US case for war built on ethnocentric psychological projections unrelated to Iraqi reality/ the Orient as a stage for playing out western fantasies/ George Kennan’s warnings about US policy tendencies/ US ethnocentrism as the fundamental problem/

Humanizing the situation/comparisons with Israeli occupation/ the basic attribution bias/

Syria 1: 1920’s Background and Mandate (30 minutes)

Intro-9/11 and Syrian cooperation/ negative ideas about Syria—broader, older stereotypes/ Syria as a Russian client and a foe of Israel/ Greater Syria and the 1920 French mandate/ Mardam Bey and Syrian nationalism/ divide and conquer/30s-50s pan Arab nationalism/ Rise of the Baath party through the 50s/ clique of Army officers/ religious tolerance

Syria 2: The Rise of Hafez Al-Assad (30 minutes)

Intro remarks-back to Iraq for a moment/ Attribution theory as a way of understanding the demonization of the Assad regime/

Syria 3: (30 minutes)

Syria 4: (30 minutes)

Syria 5: (30 minutes)

Syria 6: (30 minutes)