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The Middle East and U.S. Foreign Policy: Conversation with Juan Cole, Professor of History, University of Michigan; October 20, 2005, by Harry Kreisler

This interview is part of the Institute's "Conversations with History" series, and uses Internet technology to share with the public Berkeley's distinction as a global forum for ideas.

Welcome to a Conversation with History. I'm Harry Kreisler of the Institute of International Studies. We are pleased to welcome today Juan Cole, who is Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He's the author of many books and articles on Islam, book coverincluding Sacred Space and Holy War and Modernity and Millennium. His blog, InformedComment.com, covers the Middle East and has played an important role in informing the public about the Middle East and the Iraq War and the consequences of that war.

  1. Background ... military family ... civil rights ... standing up for the little people ... always on the move ... undergraduate at Northwestern ... studying and working in Beirut ... studying Shi'ite Islam ... discovering Shi'ism in South Asian history
  2. Working in Journalism vs. the Academy ... newspaper experience in Beirut ... essential skills of a journalist ... journalistic suspicions of academics ... juancole.com
  3. The Problem of Modernity ... the Shi'a religion ... Washington's ignorance ... expected consequence of overthrowning Baathist secular Shi'ism ... historical example of 1967 Egypt ... role of religion in contemporary societies ... widespread societal difficulty with modernity: European examples ... modern Turkey
  4. Modern Iran ... the West's destabilization of Iran ... of Egypt ... linking parliamentary rule to affluence ... legacy of colonialism ... religion as nativism ... other forms of nativism: fascism ... natural role of Shi'ite Islam ... a hijacked revolution ... Iranians' underground behavior ... Mossadegh's broad-based coalition ... U.S. destabilization for fear of communism
  5. Iran and Nuclear Technology ... "Atoms for Peace" ... Shah's modernization program ... Khomeini's opposition to nuclear weapons ... Rafsanjani's pragmatism ... the logic of developing weapons
  6. Getting out of Iraq ... crucial question ... why Iraq is not like Vietnam ... a divided nation ... loss of control ... regional war ... petroleum sabotage ... incubator for terrorism ... hope in possible Shi'ite - Kurd alliance ... long-term presence ... empowering Iraqi military ... reduce U.S. infantry while retaining special support
  7. Conclusion ... importance of academics to policymakers ... recognition of career diplomats ... ignorance by the Bush administration

See Juan Cole's blog, Informed Comment, at juancole.com.

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