- Pathfinder

Reply To: How did this course shape or change your perceptions of the modern Near East as a whole?

Robert Burkett

This was my favorite course I took as part of the Pathfinder Program, probably because it succinctly and effectively represented the complexity and dynamism inherent in historical and ongoing conflicts in the Near East. While the primary focus of the rest of my coursework appeared to be the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it was helpful to have a broader view of instability in the region and the ongoing historical infighting between Shia and Sunni Muslims as well as Turkey and the PKK. It also broadened the aperture regarding considerations of warfare by incorporating concepts of unconventional and asymmetrical warfare including specific technologies used to undertake these types of warfare. One suddenly realizes that traditional concepts of declared war are few and far between, and that war is not so much a legal status, but instead a reality of everyday life. Countries are constantly seeking to undermine and destabilize one another while maintaining plausible deniability by engaging in things like cyber warfare and information warfare. I think understanding the capabilities, reach, and influence of these technologies will open my eyes further to see not just how these technologies are harnessed in the Middle East, but also here in America in our approach to our diplomacy.