This program will investigate the nature and causes of the form of political violence known as "terrorism," particularly against the United States (U.S.) from the Middle East, which has been a central concern of U.S. foreign policy since the attacks of September 11, 2001. The program will focus on debates about the root causes of this form of political violence. We will consider the extent to which this violence is driven by religious motivations, social and economic conditions or is undertaken in response to U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.
Students will learn about the origins of the September 11 attacks, the "war on terror" that followed, and the cultural, religious and political circumstances of those who engage in violence against Western actors and targets. Students will also learn about different theories of terrorism, political violence and counter-terrorism offered by various scholars and military strategists. The program will examine the strategies adopted in the current "war on terror," the history of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, the rise of Al-Qaida and ISIS and the changing nature of warfare in the 21st century. The program will be organized around a series of texts, exercises and assignments, including several in-class presentations and analytical papers. We will watch films and documentaries to supplement our learning. A serious commitment by students to all of the work within the program is necessary for full credit.