Sunday, March 09, 2008

America and the Islamist Entanglement

There's still time to sign up for Scott Powell's excellent Islamist Entanglement lecture series. The second lecture was presented live this past Wednesday but all lectures are digitally recorded and can be listened to after the fact on the internet. Also, there are still eight live lectures remaining. Be sure to mention this website to Scott if I had a role in getting you to sign up.

Last night I had a chance to listen to Scott's second lecture in the series on the American involvement in the Middle East. Scott focused on the essentials and managed to cover the activities of five Presidents over a period of about 60 years in an hour and half lecture. He did not simply recount a lot of facts about what the various Presidents did but also, and more importantly, explained the motivations and goals behind their actions. As I mentioned in my review of the first lecture, Scott's approach involves the use certain crucial events or milestones that anchor the story of the Middle East and the Western involvement with it. The milestones serve as helpful signposts for the major trends of this story. I previously mentioned that one of the milestones is the 1683 failure of the Ottoman Turks's siege of Vienna. I'll mention another milestone -- the 1956 Suez Canal crisis. This milestone ties in the first lecture on Britain's role in the Middle East to the American role. For details, you'll have to listen to the lectures. I'm already looking forward to the next lecture which will focus on the history of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. Check it out -- it will be worth your while.

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