America’s Dream Palace: Middle East Expertise and the Rise of the National Security State

Osamah F. Khalil. Harvard Univ., $35 (440p) ISBN 978-0-674-97157-8
In this timely study, Khalil, assistant professor of history at Syracuse, provides a thorough analysis of how U.S. foreign policy interests have driven the development of American specialist knowledge about the Middle East from WWI to today. Khalil argues that in the early 20th century, American cultural, political, and historical knowledge about the Middle East was scarce, but with America’s emergence as a global superpower after WWII and the onset of the Cold War, the U.S. government expanded efforts to advance the production of knowledge about the Middle East in alignment with national security interests. He analyzes various phenomena, largely chronologically and in scholarly detail: the advance of the academic disciplines of regional studies, the role of American universities abroad, the influence of oil companies and private foundations, the rise of think tanks, tensions between academia and the government, and more. Khalil demonstrates how American analysis of the Middle East has been, and continues to be, tainted with the ideology of American exceptionalism and orientalist notions of the region’s political and cultural immaturities and deformities, even today. With the Arab Spring, drone warfare, surveillance, and U.S. Special Forces operations throughout the region, he convincingly argues that this is “a story that is still being written.” (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2017
Release date: 10/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
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