Middle East Politics (pol 220) Paul Roesler, Professor of Political Science Spring 2009

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Middle East Politics (POL 220)

Paul Roesler, Professor of Political Science

Spring 2009


Office: SSB 1104 phone: 636-922-8265 proesler@stchas.edu

Tuesdays & Thursdays 12- 1 pm

Mondays 12:30 -3:00pm; 9:30 – 10pm

Required Textbooks & Readings

Politics of the Middle East. Roskin & Coyle, 2nd edition; 2008.

Global Studies: Islam and the Muslim World . Mir Zohair Husain, editor. 2006
Other readings, handouts and hyperlinked articles (most should be accessible from my webpage); two of the most important outside readings include:

What Went Wrong: The Collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process.” Jerome Slater. Political Science Quarterly. 2002 (linked from my website)

Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. Jimmy Carter. 2006. – selected readings on reserve
Politics is “who gets what, when and how” and international relations specifically focuses on the interaction of state and non-state forces. While a good deal of the course will review the history of the region, we will do so with an eye at explaining the roots of contemporary problems as well as possible solutions. For example, we will explore the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in depth and attempt to resolve this problem through a mock Middle East Peace Summit.

The goal of this class is to improve your understanding of the Middle East while honing your analytical skills.  You will incorporate what you’ve learned to examine the political processes of the contemporary Middle East. In other words, this class aims to help you be a fully active citizen by improving your awareness of "who gets what, when and how" in the Middle East.

My final goal is for you to enjoy this class. Politics is often serious and deadly, but it is also interesting and fun. We discuss some difficult topics and I try to lighten the mood with silly but relevant video clips.
Finally, I take politics seriously, but not personally. Please do not be afraid to disagree with me. Disagreeing with someone is NOT an insult. Some things in politics are not in dispute (Saddam was a bad guy, Iraq is a mess…), but much of politics is interpretation of data. As long as you give supporting evidence, you can make cases for many different points of view. For example, some argue that Iraq is a mess because we bungled the invasion, while others argue that the invasion was doomed to failure, even if we did everything right. What makes politics fun is that we may never know who is right!

Extra Credit

Extra Credit opportunities will be available throughout the class.  You may earn up to 10 points; each assignment is worth 5 points unless otherwise noted.

As I said earlier, this is NOT a straight lecture course.  I encourage and expect participation.  There are no 'bad' ideas as long as they are relevant to the material.  However, class disruption will not be tolerated; show respect to your fellow students and to your professor.  Classroom discussion not only allows you to learn from each other, but also gives me the opportunity to gain insights from you.  Furthermore, 50 participation points can have a large impact on your grade.  In order to effectively participate, you must have read the materials.  Make sure you do not fall behind.

Participation is an important part of this class. I hope you will share your thoughts and opinions of the readings and videos, and you cannot do that if you are not here. You are allowed to miss 2 classes without penalty. You will lose 10 points per missed class after that. If you provide evidence of a medical emergency or long-term health concern, I will work with you on absences. I have a terrible memory, so I’ll use a seating chart to keep attendance and help me remember your names.


For those students needing extra help with ANY aspect of the course material, they are encouraged to seek help.  I am available during my office hours and by appointment.  
Don't be shy--ask for help!
The college also has available other resources, such as a free mental health counselor and the ACE center for help with your papers.


This class covers a lot of material and moves fairly quickly.  Furthermore, my lectures do not simply regurgitate what is in the text, so you MUST keep up with the reading.  I provide study questions for each segment of the course.  If you answer those you should have no trouble mastering this class. You should spend several hours a week minimum (in addition to extra study time for exams and quizzes) preparing for this class.
You should succeed in this class if you attend the classes, keep up with the reading, review the study guides before the quizzes and exams, participate in the discussions, and complete all of the assignments.


Academic dishonesty will NOT be tolerated in this class.   Any person cheating or aiding others to cheat will receive a '0' on the assignment in question and possibly fail the entire course, at my discretion. Plagiarism is a form of cheating and will not be tolerated (cite properly). All students will adhere to a personal honor code whereby they promise to do their own work.

Assignments & Grading

Final grades for the course will be based on*

2 short quizzes (about 35 points each) 70 points

3 take-home essays (20 points each) 60 points

2 regular exams (70 points each) 140 points

Final exam (100 points) 100 points

Mock Middle East Peace Summit Paper (60 points) 70 points

1 page ME summary handout to fellow students 10 points

Attendance and participation (50 points) 50 points

490 points

*The points are approximate and may change. The due dates for each of these can be found on the Course Schedule on my webpage, but may be tweaked as the semester goes on.

Upon Completion of this course you should be able to:

  • describe the workings of the regional political, social and economic institutions

  • explain how social, economic and political forces interact to shape ME policies

  • describe and discuss the relationship between citizens and governments in the ME

The assignments in this class reflect these objectives. For example, the peace summit assignment requires you to demonstrate understanding of the relationship between citizens and government in “your” country and also how forces interact to shape policies in the Middle East. Your quizzes and exams will reflect all three of these objectives.

Quizzes & Exams

You will have 2 quizzes and 3 exams in the class based on the readings, lectures & films. The exams will consist of multiple choice, short answer and short essay. You will also have a take-home essay for each of the exams.

Take-home essays (approximately 1½ - 2 pages; 400 - 500 words): due the class period before each exam. You can find out the latest essay topics at http://www.stchas.edu/faculty/proesler/220/220_Assignments.html.

Take-home Essay #1 Topics (these may be tweaked or changed no less than a week before they are due)

1. Compare previous examples of Western intervention (such as the Crusades and Colonialism) in the Middle East with the current US involvement in Iraq.  How do you think these past actions affect the trust of US intentions today.  Be sure to give examples and include the following: crusades, colonialism, Sikes-Picot.

2. Give examples of Muslim scienific and technological superiority in the 10th through 14th centuries (be sure to give examples from Overbye and/or the Islam film).  Briefly discuss three theories on the collapse of Muslim power and the rise of European power.  With which do you agree the most? 

Mock Middle East Peace Summit Paper

After the first exam, each student will pick one country/group to research.  The Jimmy Carter book is an excellent starting point for your research. I may clarify the assignment as the semester goes on, so check my website for updates. However, here is the basic idea of the website:

1. First, write a summary (in outline format) of the issues addressed in the 2000 Camp David and the 2001 Taba negotiations (based on the Slater & Economist articles and the Carter book -- about 2 pages). 
2. Each student will then explain the point of view of that country/group on the problem and explain the country’s position regarding the conflict. You should discuss Jimmy Carter’s conclusions and requirements for peace he lays out in his book.
3. Then, you will explain your position on the Arab Peace plan (You can find either at http://www.mideastweb.org/saudipeace.htm or in Appendix 6 of Carter’s book).
4. You will write-out these best- and worse-case scenarios and turn in a copy to me before negotiations begin (the last two weeks of class).  Each group will briefly explain their “point of view” to the others at the beginning of negotiations, staking out your group/country’s main demands. This will be done through a 1-page typed summary handout to your fellow students at the beginning of negotiations.
Remember to be thorough! The position paper is worth 60 points and will be the basis for your bargaining. For more information, go to the class’ homepage: http://www.stchas.edu/faculty/proesler/220/MidEast.html.

NOTE: This syllabus is a guide to my class: nothing is set in stone and may change at my discretion. The class schedule will be updated regularly and can be found on my webpage: http://www.stchas.edu/faculty/proesler/

As mandated for SCC general education courses, political science courses should foster your “higher order thinking” and “managing information” skills. In part this comes from the critical work of creating and critiquing logical arguments concerning important issues in the Middle East today. Your assignments, especially the Peace Summit project, will require you to draw inferences and make arguments that go beyond descriptions towards explanations.

Bureaucratic Stuff from the College

Withdrawing from a class is the choice and responsibility of the student. While withdrawing might look like the easy choice, it can possibly affect your financial aid eligibility, graduation date, future scholarships and transfer plans.

* Last day to drop and receive a “W”: April 3, 2009

* Last day to change from credit to audit or audit to credit: Feb 13, 2009
Campus Closings: For up-to-date information on closings due to inclement weather or other emergencies: log on to www.stchas.edu, call 636-922-8000, and/or watch the local news.
* Graded Papers and Exams: Graded papers and exams will be returned to students as

soon as is reasonably practical. Normally this will be within one week, but could be longer in unusual circumstances.

Instructional Goals: This class will provide an environment where the College’s goals for students in the areas of Critical Thinking, Writing Across the Curriculum, and Computer Literacy are practiced. These will be utilized in a variety of ways throughout the course.
* Students with special needs: We all have various channels through which we learn best. The College has an Office of Accessibility Services that guides, counsels, and assists students with disabilities. It is located in Room 133 of the Student Center. It is your responsibility to discuss with the instructor during the first week of class anything needed to help you succeed. If you have special needs, please call Pam Bova (636-922-8247) in the Office of Accessibility Services so that your eligibility for services can be determined.
Mental Health/Counseling Service for Students: SCC/Bridgeway offers free counseling service to SCC students. Ms. Mary Hall is the on-campus counselor. Students may call (636)288-6533 to set up an appointment on campus, or at the St. Charles location of Bridgeway Counseling Services, whichever they prefer. If you have a crisis after business hours, call the same number and Mary’s voice mail will give you a phone number to call for a counselor who will assess the situation and make appropriate referrals. Students can self refer, or anyone on campus can direct you to these services. Mary’s campus address is in 1204 ADM. The St. Charles location of Bridgeway is at 1570 South Main Street.
Safety Consideration after Night Classes: It is highly recommended that students park in the same designated lot, to be agreed upon the first night class, and walk out together as a group when class is over. Although any students who wish to contact campus security to walk them to their car may do so.
POL 220 Course Schedule and Reading Assignments*



Reading Assignment (R/C = Roskin/Coyle)

Jan 26

Introduction: The Birthplace of 3 Religions

R/C Ch 1; Videos: ME Birth Pangs; Colbert on Religious Hatred

Feb 2

The Rise of Islam

R/C Chs 2 & 3; Husain pp287-288 (The Holy Book); Videos: Islam, Empire of Faith; DS:Muhammed Cartoons; DS: Sunnis v Shiites

Feb 9

Colonialism & US Foreign Policy

R/C Ch 17; Kronkite on 1956's "October Surprises"

Feb 16

Quiz 1

Jordan in the modern Middle East
What happened to Islam?

Guest lecturer -- Will Griffin, Archeology/Antrhopology R/C_Ch_15; Husain p 300-303 (How Islam Won)

Videos: Manji; Colbert: Reza Aslan; DemocraZy in ME;

Feb 23

A Clash of Civilizations?

Short Paper #1 due 

Husain pp 298-299 (Islam & the Middle Way), pp309--316 (Huntington & Said); & Videos: Road to Palestine; Zion's Christian's Soldiers;

March 2

Exam 1

March 9

Islam in Practice: Ethnicity & Religion in Turkey

R/C chs 7 & 8; Video: Muslims (Frontline);  Video: Educating Yaprak

Mar 16-23

Spring Break!

March 23

A Nuclear Iran?

R/C chs 9 & 12; PBS discussion of Iran;  Koppel on Iran;  Question Time on Iran;

March 30

The Gulf War & the Sanctions

Chs. 11 & 13;Videos : Sanctions & Suffering; DS: Iraq Solutions

Fog of War, chapters 21, 22, 23, 27;

April 6

Quiz 2

Invasion & Occupation of Iraq

Short Paper #2

Ch. 14; DS: Kabul n' Bits;  DS: Fiasco; DS: Life in the Emerald City; POV:  My Country, My Country

April 13

Exam 2

April 20


R/C ch 16; Husain pp 323-325 (Lifting the Veil)

Israel & Palestine

Video: Palestine: 1890s to 1990s; DS: Israel bombing Lebanon

April 27

Peace Options

R/C Chs 5& 6; Jimmy Carter: pp 16-19; 147-168; 189-195; 205-216

Apr 27

Peace Summit Papers Due

DS: Shia Revival

May 3

Peace Summit

May 10

Summary & Review

May 17

Final Exam

*These dates are approximate. Exam times will be tweaked during the semester.

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