The Peace Process: Conflict, Diplomacy, and Geopolitics
From the 1979 Camp David Accords to the Oslo “peace process” and the freshly inked Abraham Accords, the political history of the Middle East over the past 40 years has been shaped by multiple attempts to make peace between Israel, the Palestinians, and the surrounding Arab states. With negotiations taking place most often under American auspices—and sweetened by the prospect of security agreements and military equipment sales—”peacemaking” in the Middle East has been a policy priority of every U.S. administration since Jimmy Carter. While diplomacy has seemingly succeeded in normalizing relations between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, and Bahrain, peace has proved more elusive with the primary party to the conflict, the Palestinians themselves (as well as Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq). How do we account for this uneven progress? And what has peace meant for the countries that have secured it?
This course will survey the last four decades of peace-making in the Middle East, beginning with the pioneering treaty between Egypt and Israel, and continuing to negotiations with Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and the Gulf States. What forces—economic, political, and social—have propelled these agreements, and in what ways have they reshaped the region? Alongside this history of inter-state negotiations, we will examine the parallel (and still unresolved) process of securing peace with the Palestinian people. Why have the Oslo Accords—which were widely thought to pave the way to a two-state solution—failed to deliver, and what options remain for resolving this longstanding conflict? Placing these peacemaking attempts within a broader political and theoretical frame, we will ask: How do these various agreements understand security, and what path do they propose to achieve it? What is the relationship between normalization and domestic political conditions? Has American influence helped or hindered the peace process? How should we think about peace treaties built on the back of arms sales? And to what extent are the fruits of peace-making dependent on U.S. hegemony? To what extent is “peace” a U.S. imperial interest? Readings will include primary source documents alongside first-hand accounts and scholarly treatments by William Quandt, Rashid Khalidi, Daniel Kurtzer, Itamar Rabinovich, Edward Said, Aaron David Miller, Khaled Elgindy, and Seth Anziska, among other voices.
Course ScheduleTuesday, 6:30-9:30pm ET
April 13 — May 04, 2021