U.S.-Middle East relations
April 13, 2017
2017 UD Fulbright Lecture Series kicks off with Dan Green
“I’m arguing that there have been structural changes, important historical changes. These structural changes suggest new policy directions,” said Daniel Green, speaking at the first program in the University of Delaware’s Fulbright Spring Lecture Series.
Green, an associate professor of political science and international relations UD and a 1989 Fulbright Scholar, discussed foreign policy in the Middle East
Hosted by the Institute for Global Studies in collaboration with the Department of Political Science and International Relations, the lecture series focuses this year on the theme of “fostering mutual understanding in a time of change.”
Green, an expert in international relations theory and history, took the stage on April 6 to reconsider American Interests in the Middle East in an era of constant change.
Green opened his lecture by focusing on climate change, citing the connection between the natural resources of the Middle East and their impact on global warming.
The United States has long held an interest in the Middle East’s oil reserves, he noted. “The first discovery was in Southern Iran. By the 1920s and 1930s, it was clear that the whole Persian Gulf was rich in hydrocarbon reserves.” The discovery led to competing interests among nations to obtain and exploit oil for increasing demands of fuel. Armed with current knowledge of the impact of fossil fuel on our environment, Green argued that oil should no longer be a reason to be present in the Middle East.
“The more carbon dioxide there is in the air, the more global warming there is going to be. We are currently off the charts in 10,000 years of carbon dioxide emissions, and we are breaking records all the time,” he stated. Green added that the U.S. and others have every reason to drastically decrease the amount of oil they are extracting from the Earth, though the argument would be a hard one to buy for the oil industry, which could see up to $15 trillion of revenue.
Global world order
Green went on to discuss a change in the global world order from one of unipolarity, with the U.S. as hegemon, to one of multipolarity, characterized by many world powers. “There is about a 15-year period after the Cold War when America dominated everything and had our chance to change the world.” He said he believes that period is now over, and that we have entered a different era.
With this change has also come an increase in sovereignty. States, according to Green, are equally as enchanted by an open world economy but are significantly less interested in external input on internal affairs.
“The democratic allies that we have always been very friendly toward are also falling under the trend of oligarchy, conservatism, reactionary nationalism and oppression of their own people or are leaning in that direction,” Green said, citing Turkey and Israel as examples.
“There are a lot of parts of the world that don’t want American political values anymore. They have their own objectives,” he said. When looking at war in the region, Green holds that there are no clear winners from the perspective of the United States. “I would argue that this is a classic, kind of multicultural, multipolar conflict. We don’t really have a dog in the fight.”
In light of these changes, Green contends that the United States should adopt a “democracy first” approach, avoiding the low road of force and instead shining as a model of success. “The high road is to be an example of how wonderful democracies can be.... We should be as prosperous and free as democracies can be, and hopefully other countries will gradually get sick of oppression, thievery and corruption, and will transition to freedom in their own way.”
Green suggested that the U.S. should focus its efforts in the Middle East on defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), supporting the Syrian Kurds in their dream of a pseudo-decentralized liberal democracy and working to ensure that the region is free of nuclear weapons. “The greatest danger in the world is that extremism will be backed up by nuclear weapons.... If there are going to be a set of conflicts in the Middle East over the next few years, you don’t want it to be a nuclear conflict. That would be bad for everyone.”
All Fulbright lectures will be available by visiting the Institute for Global Studies website.
The next installment
Alice D. Ba, professor of political science and international relations, presented the second lecture in the series on April 13. Her topic was “U.S.-China Relations in a Changing East Asia.”
On Wednesday, April 19. Stuart Kaufman will present the final lecture in the series, “Bromance or Cold War? U.S.-Russia Relations During the Trump Administration.”
The series is free and open to the public. Registration is encouraged.
About the Fulbright Initiative at UD
The Fulbright Program annually provides grants for research or teaching in one of over 140 countries throughout the world. Established by U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright in 1946, the program seeks to foster international partnership and cultural exchange by funding research and teaching opportunities worldwide. More than 170 members of the University of Delaware community have received Fulbright Awards.
In addition, the University welcomes Fulbrighters from around the world for research and graduate study, with students hailing from Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Colombia, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Mexico, South Korea, Spain, Russia, Pakistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. This summer, the University will welcome students from around the world for a weeklong Fulbright Gateway Orientation administered by the Institute for Global Studies.
For more details on Fulbright at UD, visit the IGS website or contact Lisa Chieffo, associate director for study abroad and UD’s Fulbright Program adviser.
The Fulbright Program is funded by the U.S. Department of State and administered by the Institute of International Education