Profs and Pints DC presents: “Lost in the Middle East,” an examination of where the U.S. approach to that region went wrong, with Steven Simon, high-level foreign policy advisor under Presidents Obama and Clinton, Robert E. Wilhelm Fellow in International Affairs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and author of Grand Delusion: The Rise and Fall of American Ambition in the Middle East.
The days of massive U.S. operations in the Middle East appear to have ended, and the two countries around which America has built its policies since World War II—Israel and Saudi Arabia—seem to be edging out of our nation’s orbit. How did we get to this point, and what does it mean? Are we abandoning the region?
Come to DC’s Little Penn to hear such questions tackled by Steven Simon, who has spent almost 40 years at the highest levels of policymaking and scholarship dealing with that region, with roles that included senior positions at the State Department and National Security Council senior director for counterterrorism in the Clinton White House and for the Middle East and North Africa in the Obama White House.
Drawing from his extensive experience and from his acclaimed new book Grand Delusion, Simon will discuss the history of U.S. involvement in the Middle East and offer an insightful analysis of when and how our approach to the region went awry. He’ll talk about how the U.S. avoided military intervention in the Middle East from World War II until the Reagan administration, and he’ll give an account on the successive skirmishes and full-scale wars we’ve been involved in there since. He’ll shed light on how our policies were shaped by wishful thinking and partisan politics, and he’ll point out the devastating consequences of our mistakes.
Our nation’s military campaigns continued through the Arab Spring with assaults on Libya, and the U.S. is still engaged in combat operations in Syria as part of a long shadow war. The U.S. and Israel have prepared extensively for the potential outbreak of war with Iran over its nuclear program. Overall, however, our current approach to the region involves scaled-back ambitions and a reluctance to repeat past mistakes.
Simon has taught at Princeton, Dartmouth, Colby and Amherst, held fellowships at Brown, Oxford and the American Academy in Berlin, is currently a research fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, has co-authored several books on the Middle East, and frequently writes insightful analyses for publications such as the New York Times and Foreign Policy. You won’t find someone better qualified to help you understand where we’ve gone wrong in our approach to a volatile part of the world. (Advance tickets: $13.50 plus sales tax and processing fees. Doors: $17, or $15 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later.)
Image: US Marines enter a Baghdad palace in 2003. (US Marines Corps photo.)