Please Explain This Map

Chris Toensing 05.24.2014

In early May the website Vox made a small splash on the Internet with “40 Maps That Explain the Middle East.”

Once More Into the Breach

Ussama Makdisi 12.15.2009

Rashid Khalidi, Sowing Crisis: The Cold War and American Dominance in the Middle East (Boston: Beacon Press, 2009)

Patrick Tyler, A World of Trouble: America in the Middle East (London: Portobello Books, 2009)

Afghan Women

When we are hungry, nobody listens, but when we are fighting, they send us loads of firearms and artillery. Why? — Zubaida (April 1998)

(Re)Made in the USA

Over the last two decades, a number of presidents of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) have used their platform at annual meetings to express concern about decline in the field. [1] One is reminded of the Ottomans who, according to many (now discredited) accounts, were also in perpetual decline. Recently, though, this theme has acquired a new tenor of urgency as people involved in area studies wrestle with the implications of what is popularly termed “globalization.” The question is if area studies as a distinct form of international scholarship has outlived its utility. Rashid Khalidi captured the mood with the title of his 1994 MESA presidential address: “Is there a future for Middle East studies?” [2]

The New Orientalism and the Democracy Debate

The “collapse of communism” in 1989 and the victory over Iraq in 1991 sparked a wave of triumphal declarations by Western pundits and analysts who believed that all “viable systemic alternatives to Western liberalism” had now been exhausted and discredited. Some then tried to sketch a foreign policy appropriate to the “new world order.” [1] A consistent theme of this “new thinking” was that the peoples of the developing countries must now acknowledge that liberal democracy is the only plausible form of governance in the modern world. Accordingly, support for democratization should henceforth be a central objective of US diplomacy and foreign assistance. [2]

Al Miskin

During the first seven months of this year, for the first time since the Cold War began, the position of “official enemy” of the United States went unfilled, the Soviets having resigned the role. That deplorable deficiency, which threw the White House and the Pentagon into a panic, has now been remedied. The fact that the new designee is short, dark and Muslim has made him much easier to demonize, an essential ingredient of the Bush administration’s campaign to win popular support for its military adventure in the Persian Gulf.


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