Khalil book examines ME expertise and US foreign policy

In his first book, Osamah Khalil explores how the U.S. foreign policy interests shaped the creation and expansion of Middle East studies and expertise. To learn more, please join us for a book talk on October 24.

Osamah KhalilNine months after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush remarked, “If we wait for threats to materialize, we will have waited too long.” There is perhaps no better example of the United States’ misjudgment on the best course of action to take in the Middle East than the Iraq War. 

In Osamah Khalil’s first book, America’s Dream Palace: Middle East Expertise and the Rise of the National Security State, he details the relationship between the U.S. government and the development of knowledge about the Middle East from World War I to the present. Khalil examines how and why Middle East studies programs were established in major universities as well as Washington’s support for American educational institutions in the region. However, Khalil argues that the relationship between Washington and academia fractured due to the Vietnam War and America’s increased involvement in the Middle East. The United States increasingly began to rely on think tanks for regional expertise and funding for university-based area studies programs declined. After September 11, think tanks aligned with the neoconservative movement had a profound influence on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. 

Can the U.S. expand its sources of information to develop more comprehensive and collaborative solutions to the challenges it faces in the Middle East? Or will the emphasis on national security threats and government secrecy make it more difficult to understand the true drivers of U.S. foreign policy in the region? As Khalil remarks, “Much like America’s continued involvement in the region, it is a story that is still being written.”

Osamah Khalil is an assistant professor of U.S. and Middle East history at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. He received a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. Khalil has also been a frequent media commentator. America's Dream Palace: Middle East Expertise and the Rise of the National Security State is Khalil’s first book and is published by Harvard University Press (October 2016).