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January 04, 2008



As'ad AbuKhalil (the Angry Arab). Always interesting, informed and grounded in history - and hates the same people I do.


Eric Hobsbawm, maybe not exclusively on ME, but very good for a wider perspective.


Good thoughts from Prof Hollywood -

>at some ill-defined point, the disciplinary boundaries matter (if only for purposes of university chancelleries budgeting for departments, tenure review, etc.).

I always like bureaucratic politics models - particularly the idea that where you stand depends on where you sit. If you're in a IR department that gets money for IR theory, it probably shapes your view on the efficacy of IR models.

> at what point does one cross over from the systematic, comparative study of politics into "area studies"?

I agree that this is a tough one to resolve - you can open the 'black box' in IR, to include all sorts of colourful variables - cultural and psychological. Where does an IR theory that is open to cultural characteristics shade into area studies?

Final thought - if our middle east panel is thin - how would an African one fare?


Peter Mandaville
Jillian Schwedler


Ken's final question is even tougher than Abu Aardvark's initial one, to be sure.

Without being the stereotypical professor following the Freudian model of asking questions without end, what ARE the "international relations of Africa/ME"?

Does Ghana look at West Africa in terms of position, power, and prestige (a la Morgenthau)?

Is there a Yemeni security dilemma vis-a-vis UAE?

One often hears as a kind of commonplace that the Middle East is the last bastion of realist power politics, but (possibly) outside the context of Israeli security and (possibly) Iranian regional ambitions, is that true?

So maybe the Iran-Iraq war was about regional hegemony and is amenable to IR-theoretic analysis. Is the UAE-Kuwait strategic interaction so amenable?

Or -- and here is where the limits of my knowledge kick in (see my initial post) -- IS there an UAE-Kuwait strategic interaction?


Greg Gause, my former prof. at Columbia, is an IR stud.

Eric Martin

I like Gause and Vali Nasr, Oren's a good pick for balance as well.

nur al-cubicle

There are also two academics at the St. Joseph University in Beirut, Michel HAJJI GEORGIOU and Michel TOUMA...and likely a bunch of people at the al-Ahram Policy Institute in Egypt (they speak English) Needless to say, the US intellectual worldview isn't the only worldview and genuine exchange must involve some of these foreign actors. The Middle East concern the entire cast of characters. Otherwise, it's the same old echo chamber, isn't it? Haven't you already been around the block with the usual suspects?

Neil in Ottawa

I second the vote for Daniel Levy. He is excellent. Esposito, as well.


i think reza aslan and one scientist and writer from germany: navid kermani.


It depends on what you mean by IR. If you include such things as gender and sex, international development, empire/imperialism, human rights, or transnational mobilisation - AS WELL AS the usual fare, i.e. war, regionalism etc.- then you'd have to include Abdullahi An-Naim, Tim Mitchell, Julia Elyachar, Nicola Pratt, Simona Sharoni, Cynthia Cockburn, Bob Vitalis, Toby Dodge, Mary-Ann Tetreault, Roxanne Euben.

For more mainstream themes within IR (i.e. war, states, etc.), Shalim, Halliday, Hinnebusch and Sayigh are all good.

Shoghig M.

Martin Kramer and Fouad Ajami don't qualify! And just as a pre-emptive measure, let me also include Bernard Lewis in that list.

Michael Oren is an historian, not a social scientist. I once attended a talk by him at a university in Canada, organized by a campus Hillel. I've also read his book "Six Days of War". I'm inclined to say he's more of a propagandist than anything else; let's give credit where credit is due; after all, he has served as an advisor to the Israeli delegation at the UN. Not that it disqualifies his academic credentials, but I wouldn't say his work is influential in any way whatsoever.

If we're going to name historians, I'd say Avi Shlaim and Ilan Pappé. Shlaim's "The Iron Wall" is impressive (and that's an understatement).

On the Israeli front, I'd also include Gil Merom (judging from a nice piece he has written on Israeli security and the myth of exceptionalism).

Now my list (in no particular order)!

Lisa Anderson
As'ad Abu Khalil
Bassel Salloukh
Eva Bellin
Noam Chomsky
Gregory Gause
Mearsheimer and Walt

I'll add to that list later!

Blake H

Almost forgot: Diane Singerman.


I highly suggest Bernard Haykel.

lamont cranston

Gause, natch. You, despite what you say. very thin past that, for people who are truly top tier in both IR and ME. Mearsheimer and Walt obviously aren't ME specialists, regardless of their (bizarre, dogmatic, disqualifying) interest in the region. Lots of good younger ME regionalists, as you know, but not many that come through IR. Lots of good policy folks on the region too, but without engagement (smart, lucky them!) in academic debates. Lisa Anderson would be acceptable, as would Shibley Telhami. let us know what you decide!


Generally the more praxis-based applied IR theorists which know a bit about the Middle East are John Mearsheimer, Stephen Walt, Ropert Pape, Barry Posen, Robert J. Art, and Christopher Layne. Mearsheimer and Walt quote Art and Layne a lot in the "Israel lobby," and Posen is a more military strategist scholar who has written a lot about the application of IR theory to grand strategy.

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