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January 04, 2008



Steve Walt or John Mearsheimer would be excellent choices.

nur al-cubicle

I think the roundtable needs some French input

What about the GREMMO people
especially. this guy.

MERMIER F. (dir.), 2003, Mondialisation et nouveaux médias dans l'espace arabe, Paris, Lyon, Maisonneuve et Larose / Maison de l’Orient et de Méditerranée.

It's run by the CNRS and their experts speak English in general.

David Wagner

Interesting question, and I hope you publish an edited list.

I don't know diddly about academics, but Abizaid comes to mind, or Powell, as recent players for real blood and treasure.

He's not an ME specialist, but Wes Clark might have a good take on the NATO-FSR dynamic, as it blends past Turkey and down thru Suez.

Turki al Faisal, the former Saudi security chief and briefly US ambassador that was recalled struck me as a first class mind and communicator. (Bandar Bush would be interesting, if he would play.)

An Isreali opposition POV would be desirable. I don't think an active advisor can really be honest and forthright.

There is that neocon author Farah, the immigrant academic that had the administrations ear in 2002, and writes man-on-street columns from Chalabi's motorcade by interviewing the great man's security guards. How about Ahmed Chalabi hisself? He certainly has demonstrated an ability to make things happen and survive, if not really getting things done.


Having just done a review of a bunch of PoliSci MidEast literature as part of a graduate seminar, the pure IR stuff was thin on the ground. Barnett was still on the list with his Dialogues in Arab Politics but that is also 10 years old now! The most recent collection we read was Persistent Permeability, edited by Salloukh and Brynen. Very dry and theoretical but good fun though I was in the minority in the course in liking it. But it did seem fairly state of the art.


As a German I would suggest Volker Perthes, head of the SWP, the main German Think Tank on International Relations in the Middle East. As one of the senior advisors of the German government he might add some interesting insights into the Europeans point of view.


The three US thinkers that always engage me are Zbigniew Brzezinski, Juan Cole & Steve Clemons.


some fine people - but I need *academic political scientists*, not just generally interesting people on the Middle East - thanks!


John Esposito, Trita Parsi, Michael B. Oren

Guardian Reading Liberal

I'm with Ace: Mearsheimer and Walt, no question.


Keep Greg Gause.
Fred Lawson's new book is prominent and worth reading.
Ariel Ahram is on the job market from Georgetown and does good Middle East IR work. I don't know if/where he accepted.
Vali Nasr is an obvious possibility.

Abu Muqawama

Greg Gause
Louise Fawcett
Michael Oren or David Makovsky
Yezid Sayigh
Joost Hilterman or Rob Malley
Volker Perthes or Elisabeth Picard

saeed uri

i like reading michael oren, he would be a good zionist perspective of ir in the me.
fuoad ajami is always interesting to read when it comes to the me, but is he considered a me professional?
martin kramer is also comes with a different perspective that keeps things entertaining.
i like to read juan coles blog.
and vali nasr or ray taykhs would be good for the persians
what about some people who are focused on islam? it is not exactly my thing but ali eteraz is cool.
daniel levy is a good lefty israeli perspective but he would probably be too busy
good ol' norman formally at dupaul would spice things up
i have seen marc at a round table, he definitely brings in a different perspective and would help keep the table interesting
lol, the angry arab, to tell us how he hates everyone who has raped the palestinian cause


Fred Halliday, Giles Kepel, Eyal Zisser (Britain, France, Israel). A general comment: Middle East-related diplomatic history and IR work is much more common outside of the US (with obvious exceptions of the few American scholars named above, including AA). There are almost no historians of the Middle East with posts at American universities who do serious work on diplomatic history, and the comparative politics types far outnumber the IR folks. IJMES rarely publishes articles of interest to IR specialists. Middle Eastern Studies publishes a lot more, and they are nearly all by European, Turkish, or Israeli scholars.


Steve Heydemann, Mark Tessler, Greg Gause, Rex Brynen, Daniel Brumberg.

saeed uri

Two more!

Fawaz Gerges
Alstair Cook


Avi Shlaim, Louise Fawcett and Philip Robins. Guess where I went to college?


Thin, isn't it? That's depressing.

Fred Halliday and M. Barnett are still the two stand-outs in my book.

Don't feel like ragging on anyone, but some of the names posted above -- definitely not. I do agree, though, that Kepel is doing excellent work, albeit not really in the ME and IR field.

Would be interested in your thoughts and summaries of what people wrote you.


I have to concur with some of the comments above -- namely, that this combination, ME + IR, is thin indeed. Gause is great, of course, as are some of the others named above, but that doesn't do much to get at your "10 years on" dynamic.

Why this should be is unclear. I suspect it has as much to do with academic politics as anything else -- you're "either" an IR theorist (who might happen to have a case study or two on the region) "or" you're an ME person (who might happen to draw on IR theory/ies).

[In my case for example (not that it's relevant since I'm not "great" or necessarily even "good") I would probably be the first type -- an IR theorist who uses the region as a case.]

Perhaps it is because, as many critical metatheoretical reviews from the past decade have suggested, IR theory (at least as it is commonly constituted in North American academic discourse) is Great Power/US-USSR-centric -- dominated by either the early Realist infatuation with the Concert of Europe or the latter-day Neorealist/Neoliberal infatuation with the Cold War -- and so has little to say about the international relations of middle and small powers (for example, there hasn't been much on that topic in the sense of systematic theorizing since Katzenstein).

If true -- and I'm not sure it isn't -- then I think the suggestions that one look to Europe are well-founded.


It's hard to come up with specifically IR people, since many of the academics I'd be interested in hearing from are historians (Tom Segev, for example). (Most of these are PolySci folks, but not necessarily IR people.)

Charles Tripp
Vali Nasr
Olivier Roy
Robert Pape
Walt and Mersheimer
Fred Halliday
Laila Fawaz


There are some names which have been left out (e.g. Ray Hinnebusch, Simon Bromley, etc.) but there are two problems with most of the names that have been made:
1. they're *awfully* mainstream: Realism/balance-of-power? World Systems/Dependency? Constructivism-Liberalism/'norms'? ....snore....
2. most of the best-known are not that good: Chosmky, for example, is a lot better both factually and analytically than most 'academic' IR of the ME.

...but how about all the interesting thinking that's been going on in other disciplines? All that 'critical' stuff which everyone poo-poos so much? Political theory, Geography, sociology, anthropology, etc. are all light years ahead of IR -- how about using that bag of tricks? I was at a BRISMES workshop on the 'future of the field' a month ago, and there was a lot of that on display there (e.g. Jeffrey Mumer & Peter Mandaville). There's also a group in Ghent, Middle East & North Africa Research Group, lead by Sami Zemni and Chris Parker which has started to do some interesting work on globalisation and political and economic reform. Among the older generation, how about people like Tim Mitchell et similia?
Also, there's actually a lot going on on the sidelines, but it doesn't make it into 'mainstream' IR pubilcations simply because its analytical frameworks is different -e.g. lots of interesting stuff in anthropology or postcolonial studies (albeit these tend to remain at 'micro' levels...).

Incidentally, I include Constructivist and Liberal stuff under the same label, because Constructivism has actually managed to neuter itself quite effectively, becoming a variation of early Keohane-Nye-style liberlalism, or being absorbed by 'Constructivist Realism' (oxymoron if there ever was one).

But the real question is: if there's all this brilliantly interesting stuff going on in all these other disciplines, why doens't it make it into PolSci/IR? *Ever*? (...but the history of MES in the US, between MESA and AAMES provides more than a hint...)


Chatty Kathy with the Salt Water Taffy

Ahjaz Ahmad might turn some heads. Not sure if I have that spelling correct. He concentrates mainly on literature, but I heard him talk well before 9/11. I'm sure he's turned much of his professional energy towards politics in the Middle East, like so many literary critics at the beginning of this century, for better or for worse.


I would say mr. Paolo Branca and mr. Vittorio Emanuele Parsi from Italy


Further to my comment above, as I read some of the names others have suggested, I wonder what, in fact, the "International Relations of the Middle East" would BE, as a subject.

Andrea yawns at the IR metatheoretical debates -- fair enough, but what is to replace them? (And I think Andrea is wrong about Constructivism).

Geography? Anthropology? Interesting work, but assuredly not work about the dynamics of the Middle East as a system, which is what (presumably) the IR of the ME would be "about."

I'm all for drawing on cognate disciplines, but at some ill-defined point, the disciplinary boundaries matter (if only for purposes of university chancelleries budgeting for departments, tenure review, etc.).

This is a recurring tension among Comparative Politics people -- at what point does one cross over from the systematic, comparative study of politics into "area studies"? The debate has gone on for nearly 30 years without full resolution. I suspect this question you've raised could do the same.

paola caridi

Avi Shlaim is that kind of IR specialist I like: historian, archivalities' lover, extremely independent in the description of relations between states, leaders and IR actors. I'll vote Paolo Branca as one of the best experts on islam and ME in Italy, as a wonderful intellectual, but not as an IR expert. Unfortunately, the Italian IR school doesn't live a very brilliant period, as it was some dozens of years ago (and I'm an IR PhD in Florence). Very very interesting the IR production done by Volker Perthes' SWP reaserchers (we experienced their value during Wocmes 2006).


Seconding Rex Brynen, Michel Hudson, and Steven Walt. Seconding also the comments that Middle Eastern IR is thin these days, which I imagine you'll end up dealing with on your panel.

Any word on where it'll be?


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