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U.S. in the Middle East 2-Pack

Program #FALR001-FALR003.


First Program: American Imperialism in the Middle East

Just a few years ago to use the word imperialism to describe the U.S. would have automatically branded you as a member of the fringe left. Now the term is openly embraced. The New York Times Magazine lead said it all: "American Imperialism: Get Used to It." The pundits assure us, we're different from previous empires. We're smarter. We'll do things better. After all, we're Americans. The U.S. has occupation armies in Afghanistan and Iraq. A string of bases and garrisons ring the Middle East. The price of empire comes high. There is the cost in lives, treasure and moral degradation.

Second Program: U.S. Special Relationships in the Middle East

U.S. policy in the Middle East has for decades pivoted on two countries: Saudi Arabia and Israel. Washington is the guarantor of both states. They are heavily armed by the Pentagon. Saudi Arabia, aggressively promoting its own brand of fundamental Islam, Wahabism, has supported extremist groups starting in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the 1980s. Today, rich Saudis stoke sectarianism in Syria and Iraq. Saudi armies invade Bahrain. Its air force bombs Yemen. As for Israel, it occupies a privileged position in Washington’s worldview. No matter the administration, Democrat or Republican, no other country has received as much diplomatic, military and financial support. The Palestinians? Sorry, you’re not special. Palestinians have always been marginal to the geopolitical concerns of U.S. policymakers. They are invited to so-called peace processes, which may lead to Bantustans with a few casinos and malls. 

This event was presented by the Lannan Foundation. 


Richard Falk

Richard Falk is professor emeritus of international law at Princeton. He is the recipient of the UNESCO Peace Education Prize. He served as special rapporteur for the United Nations from 2008-2014 on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories. He is the author of numerous books including The Great Terror War, Unlocking the Middle East, Palestine: The Legitimacy of Hope and Chaos and Counterrevolution: After The Arab Spring.

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