Author Archives: denisjsullivan

Sept. 17, 2013: readings


  1. Patrick Tyler, chapter 1 (“A World Of Trouble Arab Awakening”, pp. 19-63)
  2. David Painter, “The US and Mossadegh 1951-1953

Dec. 04, 2012: Re-imagining the future of US relations in the Muslim World & Middle East

General David McKiernan will discuss American strategy vis-à-vis the Muslim world

General David D. McKiernan entered the Army in 1972 with an ROTC commission.  General McKiernan led all ground forces into Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2002-3, removing Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party from power, with a 160,000 joint and coalition formation. During his final command assignment in Afghanistan, 2008-9, he was responsible for over 100,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Special Forces in both a NATO ISAF (42 contributing nations) and US Operation Enduring Freedom role.


EmpireThe post-American Middle East: What is the future for US Relations with the Arab world and beyond?   Al-Jazeera program


  1. Ussama Makdisi, Faith Misplaced Epilogue Faith Misplaced: The Broken Promise of US-Arab Relations: 1820-2001.  New York: Public Affairs, 2010.
  2. Robert FiskRegardless of whether Obama or Romney wins, America’s relations with the Arab World will change
  3. Rolf Ekéus and Målfrid Braut-HegghammerDon’t Go Baghdad on Tehran

November 27, 2012: Revolution, Islamism and Social Change in Tunisia & Egypt

Prof. Sullivan is very pleased to welcome back to the Open Classroom the distinguished scholar, Dr. Melani Cammett.

Dr. Cammett (see full bio here) is Associate Professor of Political Science, the Dupee Faculty Fellow at the Watson Institute, and a faculty associate at the Population Studies and Training Center at Brown University. She specializes in the political economy of development and the Middle East and teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on comparative politics, development, and Middle East politics.


  1. Laryssa Chomiak. “The Making of a Revolution in Tunisia.” Middle East Law and Governance 3(2011): 68-83.
  2. Melani Cammett. “The Limits of Anti-Islamism.” Foreign Policy Online, October 31, 2011.
  3. Rikke Hostrup Haugholle and Francesco Cavatorta. “Beyond Ghannouchi: Islamism and Social Change in Tunisia.Middle East Report  no. 262 (Spring 2012): 20-25.
  4. Nathan Brown, “Snap analysis on Morsi’s power-grab“, The Arabist Blog, 24 November 2012
  5. Issandr El Amrani, “To break deadlock, Morsi wields a clumsy hammer“, The National, 25 November 2012
  6. VIEW:  Tarek Massoud, Harvard University (on MSNBC) 
  7. A Way Out of Egypt’s Transitional Quicksand“, International Crisis Group, 26 November 2012

November 13, 2012: Hearts and Minds: U.S. Engagement with Iran and Afghanistan


Dr. Kimberly Jones- Afghanistan and the U.S.: the Hearts and Minds in Context – background to the current conflict; key challenges faced, including the interconnections between militants, governance, corruption, drug trafficking, and, perhaps, US violations of human rights and humanitarian law.  


Dr. Lauren Brodsky- American broadcasting efforts in Iran during the 2009 elections: Overview of public diplomacy, American international broadcasters (organizations and their goals); reporting during the Iranian election of 2009:  “Winning hearts and minds,” promoting democracy, communicating with the Iranian audience, amplifying the message of the Green Movement?


  1. Tom Woods, U.S. Still Needs Radio for Public Diplomacy in the Internet Age
  2. Philip Seib, In the Middle East, a Tipping Point for U.S. Public Diplomacy
  3. David HoffmanBeyond Public Diplomacy
  4. Andrew ExumHearts and Minds in Afghanistan: Explaining the Absence of Victory
  5. Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix KuehnSeparating the Taliban from al-Qaeda: The Core of Success in Afghanistan

Oct. 09, 2012: Syria’s tragedy

The tragedy of Syria and the U.S. response: from Arab Spring to Civil war.  We will look inside Syrian politics and society as well as outside Syria, to see the impact of the Syrian tragedy on neighboring states, especially Turkey and Jordan.


  1. Syria’s Long War, by Patrick Seale
  2. The Shredded Tapestry: The State of Syria Today, by Ammar Abdulhamid
  3. Call for a Cease Fire as Starting Point of a Political Process, by Wilhelm Langthaler
  4. Syria Inaction Could Ignite a Fragile Region, by Sinan Ülgen
  5. The Damascus Strategy: A Sober Reassessment?, by Marc Pierini

Sept. 25, 2012: US media coverage of Islam and the Arab World

In one of his most famous books – Covering Islam – Dr. Edward Said looks deeply into Western media’s representations of Islam during the 1979-81 “hostage crisis”, when Iranian students occupied the US Embassy in Tehran.  Said wrote that Islam is treated with “patent inaccuracy” and “expressions of unrestrained ethnocentrism, cultural and even racial hatred [and] hostility.”  Fifteen years later, in his introduction to the 2nd edition of that book, Said returned to this issue and found that “the media’s portrayal of Islam had grown even more exaggerated.  ‘Sensationalism, crude xenophobia, and insensitive belligerence are the order of the day, with results on both sides of the imaginary line between ‘us’ and ‘them’ that are extremely unedifying.'” (Bayoumi & Rubin, p. 170 – see first reading below).


  1. Bayoumi & Rubin, Islam as News, by Edward Said
  2. Khouri, The Arab Story: the Big One waiting to be told Nieman Report 2007;
  3. Khouri, The Arab Awakening (The Nation, Sept. 12, 2011),
  4. Burgard (ed.), Preface; Intro; Chaps 1 (The Challenge of Covering Islam), 2 (Religion & Nationalism, Rami Khouri) and 3 (Lessons from Iraq)

Sept. 18, 2012: Muslim & Arab Uprisings, post WW2

With the rise of the Cold War, America’s engagement with the Muslim world was viewed mostly through the same lens it used for the entire globe: American competition with the Soviet Union and “world Communism”.  From 1953-56, Iran and Egypt were the two most significant Muslim nations that fell into this Cold War competition.  Prof. Sullivan will discuss America’s overthrow of the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran, Dr. Mohammed Mossadeqh, and the “saving” of President Gamal Abdel-Nasser from Israeli-British-French aggression in 1956.  Rami Khouri will explore how the 1970s and 1980s were a transitional period in the Cold War.


  1. Patrick Tyler, chapter 1 (“A World Of Trouble Arab Awakening”, pp. 19-63)
  2. David Painter,The US and Mossadegh 1951-1953
  3. Rami Khouri, A Bad Week of Criminals & Clashing Cultures
  4. Adam Baron, Yemen Inflamed (The Nation)
  5. Khairat al-Shater (Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt),‘Our Condolences,’ the Muslim Brotherhood Says – NYTimes

Recommended videos:

History of Iran, 1953 – 1979 – ?: (Living in Tehrangeles, 2006)