AMH 3519.2340
Honors U.S.-Middle East Relations
Spring 2011

Professor: Matthew JacobsClass Time: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 4th Period (10:40-11:30)
Office: 206 Keene-FlintClassroom: CBD 210
Contact Info:
Telephone: 352 273-3371
Office Hours (as well as by appointment):
Monday: 3:00-4:00
Wednesday: 12:00-1:00

Course Description and Objectives

Few areas of the world have caused U.S. policy makers and U.S. citizens more concern over the last half century than has the Middle East. This point has been particularly true during the last two decades. We must look into the past if we are to understand, at least in part, the troublesome nature of U.S.-Middle East relations today. This course therefore allows students to explore the historical context of U.S.-Middle East relations, particularly since 1945 when U.S. involvement in the region increased significantly. An underlying premise of this class is that we need to understand U.S.-Middle East relations not only in political terms, but also in cultural, economic, and social terms. Therefore, while we will of course look closely at official U.S. policy toward the Middle East and of Middle Eastern countries toward the United States, we will also look at other official and unofficial forms of relations. Cultural relations, as represented by films, cartoons, and other media, will be of particular importance in this regard.

One of the objectives of any history course should be to expose students to what historians do. Many people have the misperception that history is simply remembering facts, names, dates, places, etc. To be sure, students will be learning history, but they will also be doing much more than that. History is a discipline that entails learning how to review and marshal evidence in a manner that offers insightful, fair, and well-grounded evaluations of events, issues, and people. To that end, we will read interpretive works by historians that may serve as models of how--or how not to--write good history. At the same time, students will analyze documents created by the historical actors we will be studying. Along the way, students will be thinking historically by learning to understand the past and the people who inhabited it on their own terms while also recognizing how our views of the past are shaped by our own experiences. Throughout this process, I hope students will realize that "doing" history also can be quite fun.

Finally, whatever career students consider entering after college, they will need strong oral and written communication skills. The development of those skills therefore warrants substantial attention on our part. The assignments listed below will help students improve their abilities to articulate ideas clearly and concisely.

Organization and Assignments

To accomplish the above objectives, the class is organized around lectures, discussions, and a variety of written assignments. The lectures, along with a companion text, will introduce students to the critical peoples, places, events, and issues we will be discussing. These will be supplemented by a variety of other readings--books, articles, and documents. Students will write four papers. The first will be a 3-5 page film review. The second will be a 5-7 page comprehensive paper on U.S.-Middle East relations through the 1967 war. The third will be an 8-10 page comprehensive paper on U.S.-Middle East relations up to the present. The fourth will be a 3-5 page assessment of U.S.-Middle East relations moving forward. Students will take a map quiz, and will also participate in one group presentation assignment in which the group will assign the readings and lead discussion regarding a particular current issue. Details on each of these assignments will be provided with ample time for students to prepare for them.

Students should come to every class prepared to participate. Indeed, the overall success of the class will depend to a significant degree on students' willingness to engage in discussion. It also is important to note that many students will have very deeply held opinions about the issues we will be discussing during the term. Disagreement and lively debate are not only accepted, but encouraged as long as all students remain respectful of one another and of the subject matter. I would also encourage all students to be willing to challenge your own preconceptions about U.S.-Middle East relations and to have other students challenge them as well.

Lastly, I reserve the right to hold pop quizzes if it appears students are not keeping up with the material. Should they be necessary, these quizzes will be included in the participation portion of the overall grade.


The assignments listed above will carry the following weight in the final, overall grade:

Map Quiz5%
Film Review10%
Comprehensive Paper One15%
Comprehenisve Paper Two25%
Group Assignment10%
Current Events Paper10%

Letter grades on papers will be based on three major, closely related criteria:
These criteria will be weighted equally, and will translate into letter grades as follows:
Participation grades will rest on discussions of the readings. Adequate participation will indicate that a student did the relevant readings and was actively engaged in discussion. If students have questions about how discussions are going or how participation is being evaluated, or if students feel uncomfortable speaking in front of others, they should see me as early in the semester as possible. As I note above, any pop quizzes, should they be necessary, will be factored into the pariticipation grade.

The overall grade scale for the course follows the table below.

Letter GradeNumerical Equivalents (Paper and Final Grades)GPA Equivalents (Final Grades)
A93 or above4.0
EBelow 600.0
E1Stopped Attending or Participating Prior to the End of Class0.0
IIncomplete (Note: I rarely agree to these)0.0

Policies and Expectations

History classes are most rewarding when students interact with the texts, each other, and the professor on a sustained and regular basis. While lectures and readings provide the raw material for the class, much learning will take place in both formal and informal discussions. Effective class participation (see above) is therefore essential. Students can expect an atmosphere in which opinions are expressed, and received, in a thoughtful and respectful manner.

At the same time, students are expected to attend all classes and to be respectful of themselves, other students, and the professor at all times. In addition to arriving in a timely manner, this includes, but is not limited too, refraining from text messaging, playing cell phone or computer games, checking email, surfing the web, reading newspapers or other non-course related material, and other distracting behavior. I will ask students who do not observe these general guidelines to leave class, and students who persist in such behavior will receive grade penalties.

Students are expected turn in hard copies of papers, but I am well aware that various problems can arise when printing papers, etc. If students encounter such problems, they should email a copy of the paper to me by the appropriate due date and time, then bring a hard copy to the next class. If I do not have at least an electronic version of the paper at the proper due date, the paper will be considered late. Papers will be accepted up to one week after the due date, but with a significant penalty for each day they are late. I will consider student requests for exceptions to these policies on a case-by-case basis.

Concerns about grades on specific assignments will be handled in the following manner. We will observe a "twenty-four hour rule" when papers are returned. In short, this means that I am happy to entertain questions about grades and comments on papers, but students must wait twenty-four hours from when they receive their paper back to contact me. This rule allows me to get some much needed distance, while also allowing potentially disappointed or upset students time to calm down. Students with concerns about how their papers have been graded should bring both the graded paper and a clean version of it to your meeting with me. After speaking with the student, I will read the clean copy first and then read my original comments and evaluation. Students should not worry that they will be penalized for engaging in this process, as I will not reduce a grade that has been appealed (though I may or may not raise it). Students with grade concerns should initiate the process by contacting me within one week of when the assignment is returned.

Cheating in any form undermines the integrity and mutual trust essential to a community of learning and places at a comparative disadvantage those students who respect and work by the rules of that community. It is understood that any work a student submits is indeed his/her own. Plagiarism—that is, lifting without giving credit from something someone else has written such as a published book, article, or even a student paper—is forbidden and is, in most cases, fairly easily detected. There are other, more obvious forms of academic dishonesty, such as turning in work completed by someone else, bringing inappropriate notes into an exam, and offering or receiving whispered, signaled, or other forms of assistance during an exam. Working with fellow students in study groups is not only acceptable but also encouraged, as long as one is refining ideas that are essentially his or her own. Included within this definition of academic integrity is the assumption that all documents and excuses provided as explanations for late or missed assignments have not been falsified. Please review the University’s policy regarding student conduct and conflict resolution, available through the Dean of Students Office website.

Please do not hesitate to contact me at any point during the semester with any individual concerns or issues you may need to discuss. Please be aware that problems are much easier for me to address if I know about them sooner rather than later, and can be particularly difficult to handle if left until exam week or after final grades have been submitted.

Students requesting classroom accommodation must first register with the Dean of Students Office. The Dean of Students Office will provide documentation to the student who must then provide this documentation to the professor when requesting accommodation. For more information regarding University policies on this issue, please visit the Disability Resource Center's website.


The following books are required for the course.
In addition, some readings will be assigned either through internet links or through the library's electronic reserve system (ARES). Any readings assigned in this manner will be posted in plenty of time for students to complete them by the assigned date. Finally, I am placing a copy of James Gelvin, The Modern Middle East: A History on reserve in Library West for anyone who feels they need more background on the Middle Eastern context.

Course Schedule

Date Topics and Readings
W 5 January
Course Introduction

F 7 January
Approaches to Studying U.S.-Middle East Relations

M 10 January
U.S.-Middle East Relations Through the End of the Nineteenth Century

W 12 January
World War I and the Middle East State System

F 14 January
The Rise of Big Oil
Saudi Aramco World 1984 Retrospective on the Early Oil Years
McAlister, Epic Encounters, Introduction

M 17 January
MLK, Jr., Day--No Class

W 19 January
World War II, Its Aftermath and U.S. Interests in the Middle East
Hahn, Crisis and Crossfire, xvii-18 and 137-139
Map Quiz
F 21 January
The Creation of Israel
Hahn, Crisis and Crossfire, 19-34 and 140-142
M 24 January
Culture, Perceptions, and U.S.-Middle East Relations
McAlister, Epic Encounters, Chapter 1
Matthew Jacobs, "The Perils and Promise of Islam" [ARES]
Michelle Mart, "Tough Guys and American Cold War Policy" [ARES]

W 26 January
Iran, Nationalism and Oil
Hahn, Crisis and Crossfire, 35-46 and 143-146
Summary of Secret CIA History of the 1953 Iran Coup--Note--Read the overview on the main page and then scroll to the table of contents and read the "Historian's Note," "Summary," and "Appendix A," about 20 pages total. Feel free to peruse the remainder of the document at your leisure.

F 28 January
Nasser, Suez and Arab Nationalism
Malik Mufti, "The United States and Nasserist Pan-Arabism" [ARES]

M 31 January
Nasser, Suez and Arab Nationalism Film Review Due
W 2 February
Modernization Theory and U.S.-Middle East Relations in the 1960s
"The Roots of Arab Resistance to Modernization" [ARES]

F 4 February
Modernization Theory and U.S.-Middle East Relations in the 1960s
M 7 February
The Arab-Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in the 1960s
Hahn, Crisis and Crossfire, 47-68 and 147-162

W 9 February
The 1967 War and Its Aftermath
F 11 February
Catch Up/Review Day
M 14 February
War and Peace in the 1970s Paper One Due
W 16 February
The United States and the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian Conflict after 1967
Documents on the Camp David Accords
McAlister, Epic Encounters, Chapter 4

F 18 February
The Shah, Khomeini and U.S.-Iranian Relations in the 1970s
Hahn, Crisis and Crossfire, 69-86

M 21 February
The Hostage Crisis
Diary of a Hostage--Scroll to the bottom of the page and read at least 20 entries, with at least 5 from each part.

W 23 February
Oil Shocks and Energy Crises in the 1970s
McAlister, Epic Encounters, Chapter 3
U.S. reactions to the formation of OPEC--read pp. 274-280
"Unsheathing the Political Weapon," Time, 29 October 1973
Richard Nixon, The Energy Emergency
Jimmy Carter, The Energy Problem
Ronald Reagan's National Energy Policy
Walter Kirn, "Why I Luv My SUV," Time

F 25 February
M 28 February
Reagan and the Middle East
Documents on the Iran-Contra Scandal--Note--Read the general overview, then scroll down and read the documents, especially 12 to 20.
McAlister, Epic Encounters, Chapter 5

W 2 March
Reagan and the Middle East, II
F 4 March
The 1991 Gulf War
Hahn, Crisis and Crossfire, 105-115 and 170-173
McAlister, Epic Encounters, Chapter 6
President George H.W. Bush and Brent Scowcroft, "Why We Didn't Go to Baghdad"

5-12 March
M 14 March
Dual Containment and Its Problems
A Plan of Action (1992)
Project for a New American Century, Letter to President Clinton, 1998
President Clinton Explains Strikes on Iraq, 1998

W 16 March
The Oslo Peace Process and the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in the 1990s
Hahn, Crisis and Crossfire, 87-104 and 162-169

F 18 March
After Oslo
David Shyovitz, "Camp David 2000"
Robert Malley and Hussein Agha, Camp David: The Tragedy of Errors
Robert Wright, Was Arafat the Problem?
BBC, "History of Failed Peace Talks"

M 21 March
9/11 and U.S. Responses to Political Islam
Hahn, Crisis and Crossfire, 115-131
McAlister, Epic Encounters, Chapter 7/Conclusion
Sayyid Qutb in the United States
Sayyid Qutb, excerpts from Milestones, available through ARES
Edward Said, "Islam Through Western Eyes"
Bernard Lewis, "The Roots of Muslim Rage"
Ussama bin Laden, Interview with John Miller (1998)
Ussama bin Laden, Fatwa (1998)
W 23 March
After 9/11--Afghanistan and the "Global War on Terror"
Edward Said, "The Clash of Ignorance"
Ehsan Ahrari, "Facing the 'Real' Enemy in the Arab Middle East," Asia Times, 13 July 2002
President George W. Bush, Speech to Congress, 20 September 2001
Michael H. Hunt, "In the Wake of September 11th"
Arundhati Roy, "The Algebra of Infinite Justice"

F 25 March
After 9/11--Iraq
Readings (and TBA):
Hahn, Crisis and Crossfire, 133-135 and 173
Project for a New American Century Letter to President Bush, September 2001
September 2002 National Security Strategy--You Must Read Sections V, VII, IX (about 10 pages of the 31 pages--read the rest if you wish)
"Key Judgments" Section from October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq

M 28 March
Discussion--Afghanistan and Iraq
Khalidi, Sowing Crisis, all

W 30 March
Catch Up/Review Day
F 1 April
Topic TBA Paper Two Due
Switch Due Date to Monday, 4 April
M 4 April
Current Events Forum I: Oil and Energy
Obama- Saudi Arabia increasing export to make up for Libya
Politics conflicting with oil exploration in Iran
Libyans only doing business with friendly nations
US concerned with Venezuela working with Iran
Libyan Boycott

Group: Amy Rubin, Billy Vranish, Jason Weltman
Current Events Forum Guidelines
These will begin on Wednesday, 6 April
W 6 April
Current Events Forum II: Religion

Added by Prof. Jacobs:

Group: Samir Wadhwa, Vivian Christmas, Cynthia Kolbasiuk, Ryan Pereira, Kelly Barber
Move to Friday, 8 April
F 8 April
Current Events Forum III: Iraq

Group: Jack Hahne, Pat Bobek, Eric Weber, Marc Hernandez
Move to Monday, 11 April
M 11 April
Current Events Forum IV: Iran

Assigned by Prof. Jacobs

Group: Keir Lamont, James Gossmann, Gabby Holub, Yevgen Sautin, Carly Wilson
Move to Wednesday, 13 April
W 13 April
Current Events Forum V: Afghanistan and Pakistan

Group: Ann Hentschel, Maggie Casteel, Ryan Garcia
Move to Friday, 15 April
F 15 April
Current Events Forum VI: Arab-Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Group: Erica Ngoenha, Alex Dehelean, Chelsea Gober
Move to Monday, 18 April
M 18 April
Forum and Paper Discussion
W 20 April
Course Conclusions
Current Events Paper Due

2011 Matthew F. Jacobs