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The U.S. and the Middle East: 1914 to 9/11

Gain perspective and understanding on a troubled region with this course that provides a narrative history and analysis of U.S. political involvement in the Middle East.
The U.S. and the Middle East: 1914 to 9/11 is rated 4.3 out of 5 by 171.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good background for current war in Palestine I got this course to better understand the current Israel-Hamas war and to evaluate the claims of the anti-Israel protesters often appearing in the news. I felt it was an excellent, factual, course that gave me a basic background in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the past several decades. The professor is well able to explain things simply and clearly. In addition to Israel-Palestine, the course also gave me a general feel for US alliances and interventions in the middle east over the past century - it is pretty wild to see how often these alliances shifted. I notice that several people bombed this course with 1 and 2 star reviews claiming it is biased. Is it? I think maybe the Prof glosses over how the Muslim fundamentalism in the region results in tribal conflicts, lack of democracy, and poor human rights. But then again I recognize that as an American I am often bombarded with pro-Israel messages from my media and politicians, so a different perspective was welcome. As this was made in 2003, I wish there was something covering the last 20 years. Maybe I'll try Prof. Gearon's course on the middle east or (gasp!) read a book.
Date published: 2024-05-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Where we were in 2003 I love the older history courses on Wondrium and this course was no exception. I thought he effectively summarized complex events and left us with a description of where we were in 2003. Too often we see history from just from our current time period. Well done.
Date published: 2024-01-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Course The professor has clear expertise, and presented the information in a consistently interesting and balanced manner.
Date published: 2022-05-27
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Horrible!! This “course” should have come with a warning by the speaker: “My knowledge of, and close association with, Islam makes me antagonist towards Jews and all things Jewish and molds my description of 'facts' (especially 'historical facts').” Other negative reviewers have called this series of propaganda “biased”. I'm not sure WHY. The speaker doesn't stoop to mere “bias”; he just creates whatever “facts” he chooses. I will review just one episode to demonstrate how utterly ridiculous many of the speaker's points are. In episode 6 (“Truman & the Creation of Israel”), about 5 minutes into the speech, the speaker purports that, following the Holocaust, there were “tens of thousands” of Jewish DPs in Europe. One would hardly call nearly 250,000 “tens of thousands. But HE does. Does the concept of 22, 23, or 24 “tens of thousands” sound like normal use of terminology? One could just as well—and just as accurately—call it “dozens”. Yes, it would be around 20,000 dozens, but it is certainly more than 24, which is what the term “dozens” would imply. Later, he discusses the “massive pressure” the US placed on a number of countries to vote in favor or the UN Partition Plan. He apparently “forgets” to mention the “massive pressure” the Arab/Moslem bloc put on various countries to vote against. In the end, only 3 non-Arab/Moslem-bloc countries vote against—two of them (India and Greece) after explicit threats of riots by a large Moslem minority in each of these countries. Only one country (Cuba) votes against out of conscience or sincerely-held belief. About 17 minutes into this diatribe, he notes that the vote passed “by a very narrow margin”. I can't believe that any honest person could call a vote of 33-13 “narrow”, let alone “very narrow.” Even when you consider that a 2/3 majority, and not a simple majority was required, you MIGHT call it close, but certainly not “very narrow.” In fact, almost half the abstentions (4 out of 10) would have had to have voted against rather than abstain in order to defeat the vote. Actually, I would guess that, had ALL the abstentions rather voted to defeat the motion, giving the outcome a 33-23 vote, most people would consider the vote a “strongly favorable, just not strong enough” result. He further didn't mention that England was forced to abstain (rather than vote against) in order to not look stupid, since there closest allies (the Commonwealth Nations) all voted in favor. (After doing everything in their power to retain mandatory rights, they certainly weren't going to vote pro-Partition!) He points out that “As soon as Partition was approved by the UN, fighting broke out between Zionists and Palestinian Arabs.” The fact is disputable—the Jews in what was still Palestine were dancing in the streets; the Arabs were attacking innocent civilians. Further it wasn't ZIONISTS who were targeted; it was Jewish Palestinians. There was not, as yet, a NATIONALITY known as “Palestinians”; there was merely a designation describing where the individual lived. Zionists in Europe or the US were NOT targeted, only Jewish Palestinians. When the US perhaps changed its mind about the passage of the Partition Plan (20 minutes into his diatribe), the speaker implies “of course” it was impossible to change to the “trusteeship” idea because a 2/3 majority would have been needed, and “such a 'super majority' proved impossible to obtain.” Clearly it is not as absurd as he implies—it had just been done on the previous vote! Around 22 minutes into the speech, the speaker purports, “Israeli forces were better armed and better organized and even had a numerical advantage over the combined Arab armies, A FACT THAT IS SELDOM ACKNOWLEDGED.” Perhaps the “fact” is seldom acknowledged because it is NOT a fact! There were more front-line soldiers than weapons (except perhaps Molotov cocktails, a single-use weapon). Many of the Israeli soldiers were new immigrants—literally fresh off the boat—who were handed a weapon (if available) as they disembarked, and told to go “that way”, often in sign language, since many of them spoke one of a large number of European languages, but no Hebrew (the language of the country)! This could hardly be called “better armed” nor “better organized”. Israel didn't even have an official army for the first two weeks of the war. As for a numerical advantage, it is very difficult to obtain actual numbers. Even if his numbers (36,000 Israeli soldiers to 30,000 Arabs) ARE correct, it is important to keep in mind that about 1/3 of Israeli soldiers were support troops (often referred to behind-the-line troops, a difficult concept to apply here, as the entire country WAS front line, including women, infants, children, and the elderly). Whereas the Arab countries “behind-the-line” soldiers probably never entered the nascent country of Israel. Further, Israel was attacked by 5 separate countries, plus local Arabs. Most of these separate forces had larger and better trained armies than Israel. If they chose not to send more soldiers to this war, it was because they believed Israel was so weak that it wasn't “worth” sending more soldiers and/or because they weren't truly willing to commit to winning the war. It is also important to keep in mind that—until the actual Israeli Declaration of Independence, the Jews of Palestine (Palestinian Jews) were not granted national rights—including the right to purchase weapons. What was available was primarily homemade guns, hand grenades, and Molotov cocktails (again, the latter two categories single-use weapons). There were a certain number of “illegally” obtained weapons, and immediately upon independence, weapons were rapidly purchased and imported, but at the start of the war, the balance was clearly NOT in Israel's favor. About 23 minutes in, the speaker claims that “750,000 Palestinian civilians had either fled or been driven from their homes and were now living in squalid refugee camps in neighboring Arab countries.” The implication is that Israel was responsible for these conditions, whereas CLEARLY it is the “host” (difficult to call allowing “guests” in such a state “hosting”!) countries who built and “maintained” (or rather, “didn't maintain”) the camps. In fact, when Israel offered to build appropriate housing for some of these Arabs who were mistreated by their fellow Arabs (and usually not even allowed to enter these “neighboring countries”), they were condemned at the UN for “attempting to change the status of the refugees.” And most or all of the Arab countries expelled their Jews, amounting to MORE THAN 750,000 civilians, all of whom were absorbed into (as opposed to oppressed in) Israel. Another few TRUE facts that our speaker “forgets” to mention. Towards the end of the lecture, he implies that—even though the Arab countries always insisted that they would NOT recognize Israel—he is certain that, had Israel withdrawn to ridiculously indefensible borders, they would have granted recognition. While he is supposedly an expert on subjects related to the Arab/Moslem world, I did NOT notice in his brief biographical note any expertise in ESP or related subjects. In fact, his Ph.D. is in American history, not Middle Eastern. His primary expertise in the Moslem/Arab area appears to be “I grew up in Beirut from the age of 3.” Was it spending his early childhood to perhaps his twenties qualify him as an expert in the Middle East? Perhaps it was studying illustration in art school? I would guess neither of these. It seems to me more likely that listening to propaganda and lies is where he got is “education.” I did watch several more episodes of this historical fiction; they are as full of anti-Jewish drivel as this one. But if the above isn't enough, nothing more I could say would be helpful. And it would have taken me longer to write it (and you, longer to read it) than the original material! The information given above can be verified from neutral sources, so you don't have to take my word for it. How do I get my money back for this course?
Date published: 2021-11-28
Date published: 2021-10-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gives a Better Understanding of US Arab Relations I purchased this course not long after it was produced. I like it enough that I have watched it several times to refresh my memory on the background to events in the area. Two events described in the course I always remember because they provide at least some humor in an otherwise tragic history. The first was when Egyptian leader Nasser told an American friend that what he liked about American foreign policy was, if it appeared the Americans had made a bad mistake, American foreign policy was so complex he could never be sure if it was just a dumb error or he had missed something in the policy. The second was when President Johnson wanted to know what Israel meant when it stated they would not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons to the area. It all came down to the definitions of "introduce" and "nuclear weapons" according the Israel ambassador. As long as Israel did not test the weapons, but just produced them, Israel felt they were not weapons. Also they defined introduce as we would introducing one person to another. So he implied Israel would not say "Arabs this is nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons this is Arabs." I have noticed several reviews score this course low because they feel the course is bias. Being a history course I expect it to have bias given no matter what the speaker's personal feelings, given the volume of what happens in any time period, they have to pick what to include and exclude. I want to hear courses that are bias in both directions to get a better understanding of the history. The professor makes no statements that I heard that could be viewed as anti American, but he does point out where our policies may have not been the best. By hearing bias history in both directions I can decide if he is right or not.
Date published: 2021-09-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unbiased coverage What a great coverage of a complicated region. The lecturer provides in-depth and unbiased lectures which help one better understand the historical context of the issues which are still with us today.
Date published: 2021-07-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Too soon I just received this last week, and have not had a chance to start it. At best I can only do two lectures a day. So at a minimum It will take me at least two weeks to complete it. Would suggest you check back in a month.
Date published: 2021-06-15
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This course is a narrative history of U.S. political involvement in the Middle East, designed to provide you with additional perspective and understanding. Such knowledge is helpful to broaden your ability to place today's headlines into greater context, evaluate what may happen next, and understand those oncoming events when they do occur.


Salim Yaqub

Americans and Middle Easterners have more in common than they realize. They're divided by important cultural differences, and conflicts stem from this. But even the bitterest conflicts occur within a common moral framework.


University of California, Santa Barbara

Dr. Salim Yaqub is Associate Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He earned his B.A. from the Academy of Art College and his M.A. at San Francisco State University, continuing on to Yale University, where he earned an M. Phil and a Ph.D. in American History. Dr. Yaqub specializes in the History of American Foreign Relations, 20th-Century American Political History, and Modern Middle Eastern History since 1945. Professor Yaqub is the author of Containing Arab Nationalism: The Eisenhower Doctrine and the Middle East. His dissertation of this work earned him the John Addison Porter Prize and the George Washington Egleston Prize from Yale University.

By This Professor

A Meeting of Two Worlds

01: A Meeting of Two Worlds

An introduction to the themes of increasing American power, indigenous political aspirations, conflicting interests and goals, and growing mutual antagonism sets the stage for World War I.

34 min
Wilson & the Breakup of the Ottoman Empire

02: Wilson & the Breakup of the Ottoman Empire

An examination of wartime and postwar American policy shows how Wilson's commitment to an ethnocentrically defined view of national self-determination drove his efforts to shape the postwar settlement in the Middle East.

32 min
The Interwar Period

03: The Interwar Period

A look at American interest in the Middle East between the wars reveals our focus shifting in the 1930s to American interest in Saudi Arabian oil and the increasing activism of American Zionism in response to Hitler's persecution of German Jews.

30 min
U.S. & the Middle East During World War II

04: U.S. & the Middle East During World War II

United States entry into World War II alters Americans' conception of the Middle East, whose geopolitical orientation is now seen as vital to American security.

29 min
Origins of the Cold War in the Middle East

05: Origins of the Cold War in the Middle East

Three Cold War crises culminate in the issuing of the Truman Doctrine-which would guide U.S. Cold War policy for a generation-while the evolution of U.S.-Saudi relations produces a formal pledge to defend that nation from possible Soviet attack.

29 min
Truman & the Creation of Israel

06: Truman & the Creation of Israel

A look at competing explanations for Truman's support for Israel's creation and its consequences includes the dispossession of the Palestinian people and the resulting decline in America's reputation in the Arab world.

30 min
Eisenhower, the Cold War & the Middle East

07: Eisenhower, the Cold War & the Middle East

President Eisenhower's responses to the challenge of Middle Eastern nationalists include a successful effort to overthrow the regime of Muhammad Mossadeq in Iran and a less successful effort to arrest the drift of Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser toward the Soviet orbit.

31 min
The Suez Crisis & Arab Nationalism

08: The Suez Crisis & Arab Nationalism

Egypt's nationalization of the Suez Canal and the ensuing crisis-with Great Britain, France, and Israel invading Egypt-marks a crucial turning point, with the United States replacing Great Britain as the preeminent western power in the Middle East.

30 min
Kennedy-Engaging Middle Eastern Nationalism

09: Kennedy-Engaging Middle Eastern Nationalism

This is an examination of President Kennedy's attempt to deemphasize Cold War themes in U.S. policy toward the Middle East. Paradoxically, the strategy initially improves America's Cold War position, but leaves a far less promising situation to Kennedy's successor.

32 min
Johnson-Taking Sides

10: Johnson-Taking Sides

Kennedy's efforts to strike a balance between competing interests with respect to Iran, Nasserist Egypt, and Israel are abandoned by Lyndon Johnson, who openly takes sides in all three policy areas.

31 min
The Six-Day War

11: The Six-Day War

The 1967 war dramatically alters the political, strategic, and psychological landscape of the Middle East with the diplomatic and political fallout of U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 and a devastating impact on Nasserist Arab nationalism.

32 min
The Nixon Doctrine & the Middle East

12: The Nixon Doctrine & the Middle East

Nixon relies on regional "cops on the beat" to protect American interests, while initially keeping the Arab-Israeli conflict on a separate policy track. But Israel, too, soon becomes an American ally within the meaning of the Doctrine.

32 min
The Yom Kippur War & Kissinger's Diplomacy

13: The Yom Kippur War & Kissinger's Diplomacy

An examination of America's response to this 1973 war includes Egypt's and Syria's divergent aims, Kissinger's diplomatic efforts during and after the war, and the legacy of that diplomacy for future peacemaking.

31 min
Carter & Camp David

14: Carter & Camp David

A thorough look at President Jimmy Carter's efforts to broker an Arab-Israeli peace settlement examines an assessment of the Camp David process and the divergent ways in which Arabs, Israelis, and Americans have interpreted that experience.

32 min
The Iranian Revolution & the Hostage Crisis

15: The Iranian Revolution & the Hostage Crisis

A quarter-century of simmering resentment against the U.S. boils over in revolution, topples the shah, sets the stage for a prolonged hostage crisis, and virtually ensures the outcome of an American election.

28 min
Era of Limits-Energy Crises of the 1970s

16: Era of Limits-Energy Crises of the 1970s

The oil shocks of the 1970s are strongly felt in the West, but also force changes that eventually bring the oil-producing nations of the Middle East face to face with a hard new reality.

31 min
The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan

17: The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan

The Soviets' 1979 invasion of Afghanistan has far-reaching implications for both the Soviet Union and the U.S., whose support for an Afghan jihad against the Soviet Union attracts tens of thousands of young men to the struggle, including a young Saudi named Osama bin Laden.

31 min
Reagan & the Middle East

18: Reagan & the Middle East

This look at President Reagan's policies pays close attention to his efforts to contain militant Islam, especially in Lebanon, and includes the Marine barracks bombing, the highjacking of TWA Flight 847, and the arms-for-hostages machinations of Irangate.

32 min
The First Palestinian Intifada

19: The First Palestinian Intifada

A detailed examination of the American response to the first Palestinian uprising in the West Bank and Gaza Strip discusses the American revival of the Arab-Israeli peace process and the involvement of the PLO.

30 min
The Gulf War

20: The Gulf War

A look at the first Bush administration's response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 includes America's "tilt" toward Iraq in the war against Iran, the events and implications of Operation Desert Storm, and the controversial end to the conflict.

31 min
The Rise & Fall of the Oslo Peace Process

21: The Rise & Fall of the Oslo Peace Process

An examination of the origins of the Israeli-PLO direct talks looks in depth at the terms of their preliminary agreement, the conflicting explanations for why the process ultimately failed, and what happened in its wake.

32 min
The United States & the Kurds

22: The United States & the Kurds

This lecture traces American relations with this single Middle Eastern people over a long period of time, examining who they are and the role of their aspirations in our own involvement in the Middle East.

31 min
The United States & Osama bin Laden

23: The United States & Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden's emergence in the 1990s as a sponsor of anti-American terrorism begins with the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan and continues with his formation of the al-Qa'ida network, its escalating campaign, the Clinton administration's sporadic efforts to counter it, and the ambivalent position of the Saudi government.

31 min
September 11 & Its Aftermath

24: September 11 & Its Aftermath

A look at the events of September 11, their aftermath, and Washington's immediate reaction brings the series to a conclusion at the beginning of 2002 and discusses the implications a more ambitious strategic agenda may have for subsequent U.S. policy toward the Middle East.

31 min