Listening to these lectures shaped my perception of the Middle East as they have given me a more holistic picture of the conflicts and history of the region more than I have ever heard before. It is remarkable how easy it can be to simplify seemingly constant turmoil in the Near East down to ‘Israel vs. Palestinians’, ‘Iran vs. Israel/U.S.’, or other false narratives. Learning about the different conflicts, past and present, involving Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and other states will prevent me from espousing oversimplified narratives and opinions on events in the future.
I was also thoroughly struck by the nature of the United States’ involvement in many of the conflicts presented. Some of their involvement seems justifiable and strategic from a political standpoint, but others seem like an overreach by a global power seeking to tighten a grip on current events. Just today, I read an investigative report that suggested that U.S. involvement in the region has directly contributed to Iranian drone advancements and development. I wonder how many other stories there could be about the downsides of the U.S.’s activity in the Near East since the days of Jimmy Carter.