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The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America

Thursday April 2007


Martin Kramer Wexler Fromer Fellow, Washington Institute for Near East Policy; Senior Fellow, Shalem Center, Jerusalem; Senior Fellow, Olin Institute, Harvard University

Prior to 9/11, Middle Eastern studies programs had a reputation for advancing radical agendas, veiled in thin scholarship and anti-American sympathies. The repeated failures of these programs to foresee, explain—and condemn—violent developments around the world exposed their hollow research and questionable allegiances. And today, with lengthy campaigns in both Afghanistan and Iraq, the influence of these programs has expanded dramatically as Middle Eastern studies professors teach a burgeoning number of students and have unprecedented influence with policymakers.

What impact, if any, has 9/11 and the War on Terrorism had on Middle Eastern studies programs in America? Has their scholarship shifted? And what efforts are afoot to moderate these programs?