Academy of Lifelong Learning

The Middle East Muddle - Back to the Future - Session 2

Pat Patterson

Wednesdays, October 26 – December 7 (six weeks)

4:15 – 5:15 pm


* No classes the week of Thanksgiving. 


The situation in the Middle East continues to undermine national, regional and global security. Efforts by the U.S., its regional partners and its international allies appear to have done little to improve economic or security stability in the region or for ourselves. On the contrary, military, economic and humanitarian efforts have exacerbated toxic situations across the map in every direction.

After a course overview and introductory snapshot of current conditions, we will examine the most recent government to hold sway over the area—the Ottoman Empire, a success for centuries before collapsing early in the 20th century. We will take a fresh look at the why, how and by whom the Ottoman Empire was dismantled, noting that the borders created by the World War I victors remain largely unchanged after 100 years.  We will examine the extent to which these divisions still remain practical and discuss prospects for new boundaries (and who might redraw them).

These discussions should bring us to the eve of the 2016 U.S. Elections, a timely juncture at which we may be able to examine conditions in the region and the ongoing roles being played by the U.S. and the international community. Presuming we will have survived the elections, we will have perhaps two more full classes before the session ends. We will use these discussions to examine initial reactions to the U.S. elections from three perspectives: from the inhabitants of the Middle East; from key global players in the region; and from the major American players. 

The concluding session, time permitting, will be an open discussion of students’ views of prospects for change—and the role the U.S. can play as a positive agent of change in the Middle East.