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Iraq and American Empire

As the importance of the Middle East grows almost on a daily basis, and as the United States becomes more and more involved in the intricacies and dangers of Middle Eastern politics, it is becoming clear that the basic Western understanding of the cultural and political forces of the region is sorely lacking. How did today's Middle East come into being, and what influence did western powers have in shaping the political and economic realities of the region? Where are the forces of nationalism strongest in the Middle East, and what effect does this have on Middle Eastern politics? What are the prospects for democratic growth among the many authoritarian governments in the region, and what are the challenges facing the region today?

Professor Rashid Khalidi, the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies and Director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University, is internationally recognized as one of the leading voices on the formation and the development of the modern Middle East. He is the author or co-editor of a number of books analyzing the complexities of Arab nationalism and the question of Palestine, including Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness (1998); The Origins of Arab Nationralism (1991); and, most recently, Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and America's Perilous Path in the Middle East (2004).

Professor Khalidi's talk is the second in the series Islam: Past and Present, a year long series at the Athenaeum focusing upon the confluence between historical forces of the Middle East and their implications for the present day.