American University of Beirut

Policy and Politics in the Americas

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Policy and Politics in the Americas is a collaborative initiative undertaken by the Center for American Studies and Research (CASAR)​ and the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy​ and International Affairs (IFI)​ at the American University of Beirut (AUB).

Featuring both lectures and debates, the series will bring scholars, diplomats, journalists, policymakers and public intellectuals to AUB in order to expand our understanding of the current political and policy landscape of the Americas. The focus of the series will be on bringing practitioners and scholars to AUB to discuss not only the politics and policies of individual states, but also to explore interdisciplinary perspectives on a broad range of critical transnational issues, such as US foreign policy and Arab-American relations. Among other goals, these discussions will seek to illuminate, through comparison, the political experiences of South and Central America and the Arab world, especially issues related to civil strife, conflict resolution, power-sharing, and democracy.

This series will simultaneously acknowledge the often-devastating role of US policies in the Middle East while at the same time widening the scope of local discussions about politics in the Americas beyond simply the influence of these policies on the region. The contemporary reality of a multipolar political world demands a nuanced understanding of the current global “order," an order which is made even more complicated by the erratic and unpredictable policies of the current US administration. A broader transformation can also be seen in the contestations taking place in countries such as Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia and Nicaragua. 

Policy and Politics in the Americas will provide a forum for speakers to share their practical experiences and informed analyses of policies and politics in the Americas, and in so doing help to engender a greater awareness of the shifting social and political dynamics in the western hemisphere, the significant actors who are shaping such changes, and a range of other critical issues in the Americas.

​Fall 2019


LECTURE: “U.S.-Iranian policy and its implications for the Middle East and for U.S. politics” ​

Mehran Kamrava, Professor and Director of the Center for International and Regional Studies at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar

Thursday, November 7 2019 | Time and location TBD
*Due to the current unpredictable political climate in Lebanon, this event has been postponed until the Spring of 2020.​​

Since the Iranian revolution of 1979, the United States has sought to devise ways of dealing with what it has consistently considered “the Iranian threat”. This has manifested itself in outright military and intelligence support for Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s to “dual containment” in the 1990s to outright hostility and possibility of war since the start of the 2000s. This US hostility towered is driven by two primary factors. First, the US and its regional allies consider Iran a “malign” actor and a chronic source of instability. Second, there is pervasive Iranophobia among US policymakers, cultural pundits, and the general public. In the process, state and nonstate actors across the Middle East have found themselves to be pawns in a tense US-Iranian chess game in which tensions remain high and the possibility of o​pen war ever-present.

Mehran Kamrava is Professor and Director of the Center for International and Regional Studies at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar. He is the author of a number of journal articles and books, including, most recently, Troubled Waters: Insecurity in the Persian Gulf (Cornell University Press, 2018); Inside the Arab State (Oxford University Press, 2018); The Impossibility of Palestine: History, Geography, and the Road Ahead (Yale University Press, 2016); Qatar: Small State, Big Politics (Cornell University Press, 2015); The Modern Middle East: A Political History since the First World War, 3rd ed. (University of California Press, 2013); and Iran’s Intellectual Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 2008). 

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LECTURE: Mexico 2019: Current Situation and Future Perspectives

Jose Ignacio Madrazo Bolivar, Mexican Ambassador to Lebanon

Monday, September 24 2019 | 4:00 PM | IFI Auditorium (Level B) | Facebook Event​

Mexico is located in a geo-strategically privileged region at the center of the two most important economic axes of the planet: The Atlantic and the Pacific. It has several trade agreements with access to 46 countries and 1,200 million consumers, which places it within the 20 largest economies in the world. In this context, Ambassador Madrazo discusses Mexico’s foreign policy agenda vis a vis migration, international cooperation, human rights, multilateral drug control regime, trade, investment, and​ climate change.​


​​Spring 2019

LECTURE: US Policy in Transition in the Middle East
Mara Karlin, Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution

Thursday, June 20 2019 | 2:00 PM | Issam Fares Institute (IFI)​

Mara Karlin discusses ideas put forward in her recent article in Foreign Affairs, "America's Middle East Purgatory​", Mara Karlin will give a talk on looking at the big picture of the United States policy in transition in the Middle East. ​Karlin was also an U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development from 2015 to 2016.​ Co-sponsored by the Alwaleed Center for American Studies and Research (CASAR) and the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI). 


LECTURE: Arabs, Americans, and Global '58
Salim Yaqub, Professor of UCSB, Director of the Center for Cold War Studies & Int'l History

Friday, March 22 2019 | 5:00 PM | IFI Auditorium (Level B) | Facebook Event​

As part of the international conference, The Middle East in 1958: Reimagining a Revolutionary Year , Salim Yaqub presents a keynote address entitled "Arabs, Americans, and Global '58." This talk is also the inaugural lecture in a new initiative being undertaken by CASAR and the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI), entitled Policy and Politics of the AmericasCo-sponsored by AUB's Center for Arab and Middle Easter Studies (CAMES),  the Alwaleed Center for American Studies and Research (CASAR), and the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI). ​

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