Oct 13th 2015

INTL301x: War for the Greater Middle East (edX)

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Military historian Andrew Bacevich recounts the failed U.S. military effort over several decades to "fix" the Islamic world, explaining what went wrong and why.

Over thirty years ago, confident in the superiority of American military power, the United States set out to "fix" the Greater Middle East. Since that time, U.S. troops, covert operatives and proxies have engaged in costly exertions in predominantly Muslim societies everywhere from the Levant and the Persian Gulf to East Africa and Central Asia. With what result? Washington's efforts have exacted a terrible toll, squandering vast amounts of blood and treasure. In the meantime, the Islamic world has become less stable while anti-American radicalism flourishes. America’s War for the Greater Middle East has failed, and that failure is irreversible.

This course offers a history of that war. It identifies the factors that inspired the United States to launch the conflict and to persist in a doomed enterprise. It describes how the war unfolded from one phase to the next, from the era of Jimmy Carter to the age of Barack Obama. It catalogs errors of judgment and implementation made along the way. It invites students to consider alternative approaches to policy that might have better served the interests of the United States and of the people living in countries invaded, occupied, bombed and otherwise subjected to American punishment.