Carnegie Mellon University

Department of History

Fall 2005


Pittsburgh: T, TH, 8:30am-9:50am

Qatar: Before Ramadan T, TH, 3:30pm-4:50pm

             After Ramadan  T, TH 4:30pm-5:50pm

Prof. Laurie Eisenberg  (bio)

Prof. Ben Reilly (bio)

Office Hours: by appointment                 

Office Hours: C136 S,T,W&Th., 11:30-12:30




12 Course Credits


Web Address:



Overview: What is the nature of the relationship between the United States and the Arab countries of the Middle East? This is an innovative cross-cultural course that will enable CMU students in Pittsburgh and at the CMU campus in Qatar to interact with one another and with students at other American and Arab universities in order to explore US-Arab relationships. Topics will consider both historical themes and contemporary questions permeating US-Arab relations. Among the latter are the impact on US-Arab relations of 9/11, (mis)perceptions of Arabs and Americans of one another, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and peace process, oil politics, the situation in Iraq, and the question of democracy and political change in the Arab Middle East. CMU students in Pittsburgh and Qatar will utilize the newest web-camera and videoconferencing technology for the traditional in-class part of the course, taught in real-time, by co-instructors at each site.  Each student will also participate in a weekly on-line discussion forum with students elsewhere in the US and the Arab world. These two hour “Connect” sessions will be facilitated by faculty from Soliya, an on-line non-profit organization dedicated to improving U.S.-Arab relations [Please see]. The Soliya curriculum will focus on the media and U.S.-Arab relations.


Readings: Readings come from the required textbooks (below) or from articles and other materials available on the Internet. With the exception of the textbooks, students will need only click on the link in the syllabus to access the materials. Some links will only work if students are logged in to CMU computer, and students may need to enter their password for materials that are on course reserve. Students from schools other than CMU will be issued temporary passwords to allow them access to our computer. Remember when entering your password to log into the correct server- passwords issued in Qatar should use, while Pittsburgh students should use Items that are on course reserves can also be accessed directly, without clicking on the links, at the CMU library site at click on "cameo," click on "course-reserves" and type in the course number or either instructor's name- again, a password will be required.


Texts: (Available at the University Bookstore or from on-line booksellers)


Dudley, William, ed., The Middle East: Opposing Viewpoints (Farmington Hills, Michigan: Greenhaven Press, 2004).


Little, Douglas, American Orientalism: The United States and the Middle East since 1945  (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2002).


Telhami, Shibley, The Stakes: America and the Middle East – the Consequences of Power and the Choice for Peace (Boulder: Westview, 2004).


Of interest:     Website of the Arab American Institute:

                        Website for MERIA (Middle Eastern Review of International Affairs):



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As a 12-credit course, the US-Arab encounters course makes many demands on its students, who are asked to fulfill a variety of tasks and assignments. Specifically:



1.      Class Participation (20%) Students must read all assigned materials before each class, and must also read and consider the study questions posted for each day’s reading (click here for the study questions). In class, students are expected to voice their reactions to each day’s assigned readings in a thoughtful manner. The instructors intend to lecture minimally and encourage instead a respectful and scholarly discussion among students. If students don’t understand something in the readings, the instructors expect them to ask questions, thereby contributing to class discussion. There is no excuse for silence! NOTE: click here for a list of phrases that we have prepared to contribute to cross-cultural dialogue.


2.      Short Essays (20%) Over the course of the semester, students must turn in a total of 8 short writing assignments.  For assignment, students must pick one of the discussion questions posted for a reading and respond with a 1-2 page analysis- please use 1 inch margins, double line spacing, and no greater than a twelve-point font. A good essay should consist of approximately 5 paragraphs. Since we will be discussing class material on more than 8 occasions, students may decide whether or not they want to submit an essay on any particular assignment, but only one may be submitted each day, and all 8 must be turned in before the semester’s end. Our advice is to start on these essays early so they do not overwhelm you in the end. Click here for a sample essay, and here for the grading rubric.


In addition, during the long Ramadan break, students will have the opportunity to undertake a computer exercise which simulates interactions between the Palestinian President and the Israeli Prime Minister as they search for peace under difficult conditions. This program is a prototype of an educational tool under development by MA students at CMU's Center for Entertainment Technology. This is a unique opportunity for CMU students to experiment with the technology and give feedback to its creators as they work to refine and then market it.  One of the 8 short writing assignments may be based on this computer simulation.


3.      Doha Debate Assignment (10%) The “Doha Debatesare transcripts of actual debates about contemporary US-Arab issues by scholars, politicians and professionals meeting in Doha. Once per semester, each student will be paired with students from the other section of the course (so Doha students will be paired with Pittsburgh students) and assigned the role of responding to one of the original participants in one of the Doha debates. Students will collaborate via e-mail or instant messaging to formulate a set of arguments, and then work together to deliver this 5-10 minute presentation orally during class discussion. Grading will be based primarily on the quality of the oral presentation, but students must also submit a short outline or list of bullet points for grade consideration as well. Students will be placed into groups and assigned specific dates and debates early in the semester. Click here for the Doha debate teams and assignments to specific debates and positions.


4.      Soliya “Connect” Assignments (20%) This portion of the grade will be based on three factors: 1) participation in the weekly Soliya “Connect” discussions,  2) successful completion of the Soliya assignments, and 3) successful completion of a “Soliya Journal,” in which students record their experiences and observations while taking part in the program- a minimum of one paragraph of reflections per week. Each student will be assigned a regular 2 hour on-line discussion period in a group including students from other American and Arab universities.  In-group discussion  will be facilitated by a Soliya faculty person who will report back to the CMU instructors regarding each student’s  participation and performance.  Every student who receives a satisfactory report from his or her Soliya facilitator and is diligent with their “Soliya Journal” will receive full credit towards the overall course grade. The Soliya “Connect” program will begin several weeks into the semester. Please visit to familiarize yourself with this unique component to the course.


5.      Midterm (10%) This exam is designed to test how well students have understood the factual content of the course so far. Students will receive a list of important historical terms beforehand (click here for a list of study terms, when available). On exam day, students will be presented with pairs of these terms and asked to describe, in one or two paragraphs, the relationship between the terms. There is no set right or wrong answer in this exam, but to achieve high marks, students must come up with a convincing link between the two terms and defend it with a persuasive argument. Students who only define the two terms, but do not link them, will receive no more than half marks. Click here for an example of possible answers to a typical set of paired terms, and here for the list of terms that may appear on the exam.


6.      Final (20%) This exam is designed to test student analytical abilities, as well as the degree to which they have digested the lessons of the class. Students will be given a list of possible essay questions beforehand. On test day, they will be given a few choices from that list and asked to answer those questions in essay format. Grading will more or less follow the same rubric as that of short essays (click here). Click here for the final exam study sheet.





·        The 8:30 am and  3:30/4:30 pm start times are dictated by the time difference between Pittsburgh and Qatar and are necessary in order to conduct the class in both places in real time. Due to daylight savings time, the class in Qatar will meet at 3:30 pm until the Ramadan break, after which it will meet at 4:30 pm. Any hardship associated with getting up early (Pittsburgh) or staying late (Qatar) should be easily outweighed by the unique opportunity to interact with peers on the other side of the globe in exploring some of the most pressing questions in today's current events!


·        The course schedule differs from the standard CMU calendars for Pittsburgh and Qatar in that there are no classes at either site on the holidays of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr and Thanksgiving. The Soliya “Connect” discussion groups will continue without interruption, however.


·        Syllabus modifications: The instructors may change or adapt reading assignments as dictated by the intersection of topic material and current events. Students will be notified of any changes in a timely manner via e-mail or at an earlier class session.


·        Calculate your grade: To calculate your grade at any time during the semester, use the percentages listed above and factor in the grades you have received up to this point. Students will be given an approximate participation grade for the first portion of the course after mid-semester exam.


·        Extra credit opportunities: There will be many opportunities to earn extra credit during the course of the semester. Attend any talk, film, festival or presentation on campus or elsewhere in the community that is relevant to US-Arab relations and turn in a two-page, double spaced reflection upon what you heard or saw. We are not looking for a summary of the event, but rather your reaction to it and any connection to the ideas we discuss in class. Each extra credit essay will earn the student a bonus to their Short Essay grade.


·        Communication: Watch your e-mail for messages from the instructors concerning syllabus modifications, cancelled class, or announcements of Middle East events which you can attend for extra credit. If you are aware of such an event, please alert the instructors and they will send an appropriate announcement to the entire class.


·        Student responsibilities: You are responsible for all the assigned readings and homework. If you miss class, you are responsible for getting class notes from a classmate so you do not miss out on classroom lecture and discussion.  The instructors deduct points for tardy assignments. If you know you must miss class in advance, please alert the instructors by e-mail. There are very few good reasons for missing class, particularly in this unique format.


·        Doha Debates: Students must come to each Doha debate class with a transcript of the debate in hand (available on-line here). When preparing for the debate, however, students will have the option of either reading it or watching it; CD-ROMs of the debate will be available in the Hunt and Doha libraries. Instructors will alert students to any new and relevant Doha Debates which may take place during the course of the semester.


·        No cell phones!


Class mantra: Because this is a new course utilizing new, untested technology, students and instructors alike must be prepared to be FLEXIBLE and make adjustments and modifications as circumstances necessitate. Let us all say together:  


FLEXIBILITY!                              In Arabic: MURUNA!


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Syllabus and Assigned Readings

IMPORTANT: Click here for the study question sheet- students look over these questions before each reading (except when reading the Dudley text, which has its own questions) as part of their preparation for daily discussions. Remember that students must write 8 short essays, most of which will be based on the study sheet questions.




August 30                  


I) Great “isms” of the 20th Century: from Imperialism to Terrorism


September 1            


II) The West and the Arab/Muslim Middle East


September 6             A Clash of Civilizations…


Samuel P. Huntington, “The Clash of Civilizations?” Foreign Affairs, (Summer 1993). (if the link fails, try course reserves)


Bernard Lewis, “The Roots of Muslim Rage: why so many Muslims deeply resent the West, and why their bitterness will not be easily mollified,” The Atlantic Monthly, Sept 1990, Vol 266, No. 3. (if the link fails, try course reserves)


September 8             …or simply a Conflict of Interests?


NOTE: when accessing materials on Webcat, you may be prompted to enter your CMU password. Remember to select the appropriate server (Andrew for most CMU-PGH students, Qatar for CMU-Q students)!


Christopher Catherwood, “Clashing Civilizations: A Paradigm Come True?” in Catherwood, Why the Nations Rage: Killing in the Name of God (MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2002) pp. 69-89.


Ian Buruma, “Lost in Translation: The two minds of Bernard Lewis,” The New Yorker, June 14 and 21, 2004. (if the link fails, try course reserves)



III) The United States and the Arab/Muslim Middle East


September 13           1945-2001


Douglas Little, American Orientalism: The United States and the Middle East Since 1945 (University of North Carolina Press, 2002) Introduction and Chapter 4 [hereafter Little]


Fawaz A. Gerges, America and Political Islam: Clash of Cultures or Clash of Interests? (Cambridge University Press, 1999) Chapters 1-2.


September 15           Since 9/11


Shibley Telhami, The Stakes: America in the Middle East (Westview: 2002/4) Preface and Chapter 2  [hereafter Telhami]


Cameron Brown, “The Shot Heard around the World” Middle East Review of International Affairs Vol. 5, No 4. (December 2001) [hereafter Meria]



IV) Identity Development and Consequences: How Americans and Arabs view each other and themselves 


September 20           The Orientalist view of Arabs and Muslims


Little, Chapter 1


Daniel Pipes and Mimi Stillman, "The United States Government: Patron of Islam?" Meria Vol 6, No. 1 (March 2002)



September 22           Terrorist, freedom fighter, or patriot?


Telhami, Chapter 1


Caroline Taillandier,  “Middle East Connected Anti-American Terror Attacks”, Meria Vol. 5, No. 4 (December 2001)



September 27           “Occidentalism?” How Middle Easterners see the US


Barry Rubin, “The Truth about US Middle East Policy,” Meria, Vol. 5, No. 4 (December 2001)


Abdel Mahdi Abdallah, “Causes of Anti-Americanism in the Arab World: a Socio-Political Perspective” Meria Vol. 7, No. 4 (December 2003)  


[Not required, but for your information only: has a 19 page pdf survey of how Arabs learn about and view the US (2004).]


NOTE: the first half hour of class will be taken up by a demonstration of the Soliya software.



September 29           The Doha Debates (April 28, 2005): “This House Believes that the War on Terror has Become a War Against Islam”

                                    Note: for all Doha Debates, please download both the debate transcript and the speaker’s biographies for reference. Full audiovisual copies of all debates are available on course reserve in the CMU main campus and CMU-Q libraries.

                                    For more information about the Doha Debates, click here then select “Listen”



October 4                   NO CLASS – Rosh Hashana      



V) The Palestinian-Israeli conflict: Implications for US-Arab relations


October 6                   The importance of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict


Telhami, Chap 4.


Schulze, Kirsten E., The Arab-Israeli Conflict (United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited, 1999), pp. 1-22, 33-41 (concise overview of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict through 1967)  [hereafter Schulze]



October 11                 The making and application of US foreign policy


                                    MIDTERM (first 30 minutes of class): Click here for a study sheet.


William B. Quandt, Peace Process: American Diplomacy and the Arab-Israeli Conflict since 1967 (Washington,DC: Brookings, 2001)  Introduction (pp.1-20) (posted) [hereafter Quandt]


Little, Chap. 3  


Steven L. Spiegel, The Other Arab-Israeli Conflict (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985), pp. 1-3, 386-390.



October 13                 NO CLASS – Yom Kippur; mid-semester break (Qatar)



October 18                 The US-led Palestinian-Israeli peace process


The Middle East: Opposing Viewpoints, pp. 94-107

·        Chap 3.1 “The United States should intervene to end the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” (Sherwin Wine) 

·        Chap 3.2  “The United States should not intervene to end the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” (Leon T. Hadar) 


Quandt, Conclusion (pp. 379-396)


Schulze,  pp. 52-60, 82-96 (concise overview of the peace process, 1977- 1999)


                                    Optional: Little, Chapter 8


October 20                 The Doha Debates (Sept 28, 2005): "This House Believes that the Arab Governments have Failed the Palestinians" (if the link fails, click here)



October 25-November 3      NO CLASS – Ramadan


NOTE: the Soliya portion of the class will continue despite the Ramadan holiday, and students are expected to either come to school or arrange to participate in Soliya through a home computer through the vacation. Keep in mind that a major Soliya video project is due on the week of October 24th, which overlaps with the Ramadan break.


IN ADDITION, at some point before or during the Ramadan break, students are strongly encouraged to try out the computer program developed by CMU students that simulates the choices and political consequences faced by Palestinian and Israeli leaders. The necessary software will be loaded onto the same computers set aside for use in the Soliya program, and may also be available from the instructor for use at home. Students may write an essay on their experience in participating in the simulation as one of their 8 course essays, on the following topic: “how has participation in this simulation changed your understanding of the difficulty faced by political leaders trying to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli issue?”


November 8               discussion of the Israel/Palestinian computer simulation, final words on Israel/Palestine


VI) Gulf Realities: Oil, Iraq, and US-Gulf Relations



November 10             US oil interests in the Middle East


The Middle East: Opposing Viewpoints, pp. 129-139

·        Chap.3.5  “The United States should reduce its dependency on Middle East oil” (Ellsworth American and Christian Century)

·        Chap 3.6 “Calls to reduce American Dependency on Middle East oil are unrealistic” (Henry Payne and Diane Katz)


Little, Chapter 2



November 15             The US at war in the Gulf: Iraq, 1990 and 2003


Telhami, Chap 5


Little,  Chapter 7, Epilogue


November 17             The US and the Gulf Arab States


Khalid Al-Khater, “Thinking About American-Arab Relations: A New Perspective,” Meria, Vol. 7, No. 2 (June 2003)


Pollock, “Anti-Americanism in Contemporary Saudi Arabia,” Meria, Vol. 7, No. 4 (December 2003)


November 22             The Doha Debates (January 17, 2005): “This House Believes that Iraq’s Neighbors have No Wish to See a Democratic Iraq”


November 24             NO CLASS – Thanksgiving


VII) Arab Governance: Democratization and Islam


November 29             Farhad Kazemi and Augustus Richard Norton, “Middle East Political Reform” in Great Decisions (NY: Foreign Policy Association, 2004), pp. 87-97.


The Middle East: Opposing Viewpoints, pp. 108-128

·        Chapter 3.3 “The United States should Promote Democratic Regimes in the Middle East” (Victor Davis Hanson)

·        Chapter 3.4 “The United States cannot Impose Democracy on the Middle East” (Marina Ottaway, et al) 


Optional Reading: Telhami, Ch. 3 (includes a discussion about Al-Jazeera)



December 1              Larbi Sadiki, "To Export or Not to Export Democracy to the Arab World: The Islamist Perspective." Arab Studies Journal, 6 (Spring 1998): 60-75.


The Middle East: Opposing Viewpoints, pp. 58-69

·        Chapter 2.1 “Islam can be Compatible with Democracy” (Ray Takeyh)

·        Chapter 2.2  “Islam may not be Compatible with Democracy” (Milton Viorst)



December 6              The Doha Debates (March 30, 2005): “This House Believes that George W. Bush has Kicked Open the Door to Democracy in the Middle East”


                                    NOTE: The Soliya final project (jointly authored article) is due the week of the December 5th and should be turned in to the instructor.                                 


VIII) US and the Arab World in the Early 21st century: Where do we go from here?


December 8              Telhami, Chapter 6 and Epilogue


                                    Little, Conclusion


                                    NOTE: Soliya journals are due December 8th and should be turned in to the instructor.


December 19            FINAL EXAM (click here for the study questions)


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Abbreviated Semester Overview



August 30                  



Great “isms” of the 20th Century: from Imperialism to Terrorism

September 1            



The West and the Arab/Muslim worlds

September 6             Clash of Civilizations, or…

September 8             …Conflict of Interests?



The United States and the Arab/Muslim Middle East

September 13           1945-2001

September 15           After 9/11



Identity Development and Consequences: How Americans and Arabs view each

other and themselves      

September 20           The Orientalist view of Arabs and Muslims

September 22           Terrorist, freedom fighter or patriot?

September 27            Occidentalism: How Middle Easterners see the US

September 29           (Doha Debate class – Is the war against terror or against Islam?)                                              



October 4                   NO CLASS – Rosh Hashana      



The Palestinian-Israeli conflict: Implications for US-Arab relations

October 6                   The importance of the Palestinian-Israel issue

October 11                 The making and application of US foreign Policy

October 13                 NO CLASS – Yom Kippur; mid-semester break (Qatar)

October 18                 The US-led peace process

October 20                 (Doha Debate class – Is the Roadmap for Arab-Israeli peace dead?)



October 25-November 3      NO CLASS - Ramadan



Gulf Realities: Oil, Iraq, and US-Gulf Relations

November 8               US oil interests in the Middle East

November 10             US interests in the Gulf

November 15             US at war in the Gulf: Iraq 1990 and 2003

November 17             American-Arab relations and the war in Iraq

November 22             (Doha Debate class – Do the Gulf countries want a democratic Iraq?)



November 24             NO CLASS – Thanksgiving



Arab Governance: Democratization and Islam

November 29             Democracy and Arab states

December 1              Islam and Democracy

December 6              (Doha Debate class – Can the US bring democracy to the Middle East?)



US-Arab Relations: Where do we go from here?

December 8              Conclusion