KC Johnson

History 3345: U.S.-Middle Eastern Relations (spring 2014)

This course explores U.S. relations with the nations of the Middle East from the 18th century through the present day. The focus is on developments since 1945. Topics include the impact of World War I and World War II on the U.S. role in the region; the development of the U.S.-Israeli alliance; the Cold War and the “Northern Tier” (Turkey, Greece, and Iran); economic and strategic concerns; domestic interest groups and the U.S. role in the region; the international impact of the Iranian revolution; the two Iraq wars; and modern-day events.

Course Requirements:

  • Final exam: 50%
  • NSC-style group presentation: 30%
  • Quizzes: 10%
  • Participation: 10%

Reading will consist of journal articles and various primary sources; the class counts as a “C” (transnational) class for History majors.

Lectures & PowerPoints


  1. email (kcjohnson9@gmail.com)
  2. cell (207-329-8456)
  3. office hours (T, 3.30-4.30, Boylan 1127a, or by appointment)

Course Schedule:

January 28: The United States and the Decline of the Ottoman Empire (1784-1914)

  • Ronald Bobroff, “Behind the Balkan Wars: Russian Policy toward Bulgaria and the Turkish Straits, 1912-13,”The Russian Review, pp. 76-95.
  • Ömer Turan, “American Protestant Missionaries and Monastir, 1912-17,” Middle East Review, pp. 119-136.
  • W. David Wrigley, “Germany and the Turco-Italian War, 1911-1912,” International Journal of Middle East Studies, pp. 313-338.

February 4: World War I, Its Aftermath, & Middle East International Relations (1914-1923)

  • Michael A. Reynolds, “Buffers, Not Brethren: Young Turk Military Policy in the First World War and the Myth of Panturanism,” Past & Present, pp. 137-179.
  • Margaret Lavinia Anderson, “’Down in Turkey Far Away’: Human Rights, the Armenian Massacres, and Orientalism in Wilhelmine Germany,” Journal of Modern History, pp. 80-113.
  • Erez Manela, “The Wilsonian Moment and the Rise of Anticolonial Nationalism: The Case of Egypt,”Diplomacy & Statecraft, pp. 99-122.
  • Jehuda Reinharz, “The Balfour Declaration and Its Maker: A Reassessment,” The Journal of Modern History, pp. 455-499.

February 11: The Depression, World War II & The Middle East (1924-1945)

  • Erez Manela, “Goodwill and Bad: Rethinking US-Egyptian Relations in the Interwar Years,” Middle Eastern Studies, pp. 71-88.
  • Robert Vitalis, “The ‘New Deal’ in Egypt: The Rise of Anglo-American Rivalry,” Diplomatic History, pp. 211-239.
  • Arthur L. Funk, “Negotiating the ‘Deal with Darlan’,” Journal of Contemporary History, pp. 81-117.
  • Klaus-Michael Malmann and Martin Cuppers, “’Elimination of the Jewish National Home in Palestine’: The Einsatzkommando of the Panzer Army Africa 1942,” Yad Vashem Studies, pp. 111-141.

February 18: The Middle East & The Origins of the Cold War (1945-1952)

  • Toru Onozawa, “Formation of American Regional Policy for the Middle East, 1950–1952: The Middle East Command Concept and Its Legacy,” Diplomatic History, pp. 117-148.
  • Melvyn P. Leffler, “Strategy, Diplomacy, and the Cold War: The United States, Turkey, and NATO, 1945-1952,” The Journal of American History, pp. 807-825.
  • Maurice Labelle, “The Only Thorn: Early Saudi-American Relations and the Question of Palestine, 1945-1949,” Diplomatic History, pp. 257-281.
  • Peter L. Hahn, “Alignment by Coincidence: Israel, the United States, and the Partition of Jerusalem, 1949-1953,” The International History Review, pp. 665-689.

February 25: The Eisenhower Years & U.S. Policy toward the Middle East (1953-1960)

  • Steve Marsh, “The United States, Iran and Operation ‘Ajax’: Inverting Interpretative Orthodoxy,” Middle Eastern Studies, pp. 1-38.
  • Amy Staples, “Seeing Diplomacy through Banker’s Eyes: The World Bank, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Crisis, and the Aswan High Dam,” Diplomatic History, pp. 397-418.
  • Anthony Gorst and W. Scott Lucas, “The Other Collusion: Operation Straggle and Anglo-American Intervention in Syria, 1955-1956,” Intelligence and National Security, pp. 576-595.
  • Irwin Wall, “The United States, Algeria, and the Fall of the Fourth French Republic,” Diplomatic History, Vol. 18, pp. 489-510.

March 4: The Origins of the Modern U.S.-Israeli Alliance (1961-7)

  • Eric Jacobsen, “A Coincidence of Interests: Kennedy, U.S. Assistance, and the 1963 Iraq Ba’ath Regime,” Diplomatic History, pp. 1029-1059.
  • Barton J. Bernstein, “The Cuban Missile Crisis: Trading the Jupiters in Turkey?,” Political Science Quarterly, pp. 97-125.
  • Zach Levey, “The United States’ Skyhawk Sale to Israel, 1966: Strategic Exigencies of an Arms Deal,”Diplomatic History, Vol. 28, pp. 255-276.
  • Zaki Shalom, “Kennedy, Ben-Gurion and the Dimona Project, 1962–1963,” Israel Studies, pp. 3-33.

March 11: The United States, the Middle East, and the Six-Day War (1967-8)

  • Galia Golan, “The Soviet Union and the Outbreak of the June 1967 Six-Day War,” Journal of Cold War Studies, Vol. 8, pp. 3-19.
  • Zaki Shalom, “Lyndon Johnson’s Meeting with Abba Eban, 26 May 1967: [Introduction and Protocol],” Israel Studies, pp. 221-236.
  • Clea Lutz, “Strike at Samu: Jordan, Israel, the United States, and the Origins of the Six-Day War,” Diplomatic History, pp. 55-76.
  • Avner Cohen, “Israel and the Origins of U.S. Nonproliferation Policy: The Crucial Decade, 1958-1968,” The Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 1988, pp. 1-19.

March 18: The United States & An Unstable Middle East (1969-1978)

  • Nigel Ashton, “Pulling the Strings: King Hussein’s Role during the Crisis of 1970 in Jordan,” International History Review, pp. 94-118.
  • Noam Kochavi, “Insights Abandoned, Flexibility Lost: Kissinger, Soviet Jewish Emigration, and the Demise of Détente,” Diplomatic History, pp. 503-530.
  • Rudiger Graf, “Making Use of the Oil Weapon,” Diplomatic History, pp. 185-208.
  • Roham Alvandi, “Nixon, Kissinger, and the Shah: The Origins of Iranian Primacy in the Persian Gulf,” Diplomatic History, pp. 337-372.
  • Fiona B. Adamson, “Democratization and the Domestic Sources of Foreign Policy: Turkey in the 1974 Cyprus Crisis,” Political Science Quarterly, pp. 277-303.
  • Shibley Telhami, “Evaluating Bargaining Performance: The Case of Camp David,” Political Science Quarterly, pp. 629-653.

March 25: The United States & A Revolutionary Middle East (1979-1988)

  • Mitchell Bard, “Interest Groups, the President, and Foreign Policy: How Reagan Snatched Victory from the Jaws of Defeat On AWACS,” Presidential Studies Quarterly, pp. 583-600.
  • Catherine Scott, “Bound for Glory: The Hostage Crisis as Captivity Narrative in Iran,” International Studies Quarterly, pp. 177-88.
  • 444 Days in the Dark: An Oral History of the Iran Hostage Crisis,” GQ.
  • Theodore Draper, “The Iran-Contra Affair: An Autopsy,” New York Review of Books, December 17, 1987, pp. 67-77.
  • William B. Quandt, “Reagan’s Lebanon Policy: Trial and Error,” Middle East Journal, pp. 237-254.
  • Joyce Battle, ed., “Shaking Hands with Saddam Hussein,” read summary and document summaries ONLY.
  • G.M. Hughes, “Strategy in the Reflagging and Escort of Kuwaiti Tankers,” DOD Report.

April 1: The End of the Cold War & the Middle East (1979-1992)

  • Joseph Collins, “The Use of Force in Soviet Foreign Policy: The Case of Afghanistan.” Conflict Quarterly, pp. 20-47.
  • Alan J. Kuperman, “The Stinger Missile and U.S. Intervention in Afghanistan,” Political Science Quarterly, pp. 219-263.
  • H. W. Brands, “George Bush and the Gulf War of 1991,” Presidential Studies Quarterly, pp. 113-131.
  • Lawrence Freedman & Efraim Karsh, “How Kuwait Was Won: Strategy in the Gulf War,” International Security, pp. 5-41.
  • Gulf War chronology

April 8: The 9/11 Attack & Its Effects (1993-2004)

  • Mark Schafer and Stephen G. Walker“Democratic Leaders and the Democratic Peace: The Operational Codes of Tony Blair and Bill Clinton,” International Studies Quarterly, pp. 561-583.
  • Benny Morris and Ehud Barak, “Camp David: An Exchange,” New York Review of Books, 13 June 2001.
  • Hussein Agha and Robert Malley, “Camp David: Tragedy of Errors,” New York Review of Books, 9 Aug. 2001.
  • Dennis Ross, “Camp David: An Exchange,” New York Review of Books, 20 Sept. 2001
  • Kosovo Timeline
  • Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States: Executive summary; Chapter Four
  • Mel Leffler, “9/11 and American Foreign Policy,” Diplomatic History, pp. 395-414.

April 15, 22: No class–spring break

April 29: The Legacies of Iraq (2004-2013)

  • Melvyn Leffler, “The Foreign Policies of the George W. Bush Administration,” Diplomatic History, pp. 190-216.
  • “A Deadly Mix in Benghazi,” New York Times (read all six pages)
  • Meltem Müftüler-Bac, “Turkey and the United States: The Impact of the War in Iraq,” International Journal, pp. 61-81.
  • Michael Dunne, “The United States, the United Nations and Iraq: ‘Multilateralism of a Kind’,” International Affairs, pp. 257-277.
  • Ronald Bruce St John“’Libya Is Not Iraq’: Preemptive Strikes, WMD and Diplomacy,” Middle East Journal, pp. 386-402
  • Nicholas Schmidle, “Getting Bin Laden,” New Yorker
  • Jeffrey Goldberg & Marc Ambinder, “The Ally from Hell,” The Atlantic.
  • Jon Lee Anderson, “King of Kings,” New Yorker.

May 6: NSC Presentations

May 13: NSC Presentations; Review

Date TBA (May 19-22): Final Exam

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