Michael Oren discusses America and the Shaping of the Middle East.
From the first cannonballs fired by American warships at North African pirates to the Marines' conquest of Fallujah, the U.S. has been dramatically involved in the Middle East. A senior fellow at Jerusalem's Shalem Center, Oren explores the diverse and remarkable ways in which Americans have interacted with this alluring, yet sometimes hostile, land.
Chief Executive Officer of Koret Foundation Funds
His multi-faceted business experience ranges from 25 years in executive positions at Bank of America, to vice chairman and chief operating officer of Shorenstein Realty Services, to partner of the Quellos Group, a financial services boutique. Among his community and philanthropic leadership positions, Jeff is chair of Northern California AIPAC (2006 - 2008); vice chair of the board of directors of the Jewish Home; trustee at the Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights at his alma mater, Claremont McKenna College; board member of American Friends of Koret Israel Economic Development Funds; and a member of the Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties.
Jeff also served 10 years on the board of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties; six years on the executive committee and board of directors of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce; and eight years as a director of The Exploratorium, where he continues as a member of the development committee.
Michael B. Oren
Michael B. Oren is an American-born Israeli historian and author and the Israeli ambassador to the United States. He has written books, articles, and essays on Middle Eastern history, and is the author of the best-selling Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East, which won the Los Angeles Times History Book of the Year Award. He was a Distinguished Fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem and a contributing editor to The New Republic and the Shalem Center's quarterly journal, Azure.
A graduate of Princeton and Columbia, Dr. Oren has received fellowships from the U.S. Departments of State and Defense, and from the British and Canadian governments. Formerly, he was the Lady Davis Fellow of Hebrew University, a Moshe Dayan Fellow at Tel-Aviv University, and the Distinguished Fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. He has been a visiting professor at Harvard, Yale, and Georgetown.
I like MICHEAL BRAVE MAN REAL MENSCHE!
My Historical perspective is of a different shade.
THE BARBARY COAST WARS with Thomas Jefferson, was first false flag war,
Taunting the SULTAN,USA navy Ships PLAYING games to anger the SULTAN not pirates.
Since then Americans dragged into 1st world war by attack on LUSITANA, AND AUSSIES warned the the White House JAPANESE ON THE WAY GET READY! America chose to allow the attack so to get public involved, YEARS later Viet NAM bay of TON KIN, FALSE FLAG OPERATION WHERE 56,000, USA troops killed and a million others, for nothing. SHAME! SO ATTACK YOUR OWN TO CREATE A WAR, HITLER burned down his own parliament blamed it on COMMUNISTS. NATIONAL SPORT BASEBALL sacrifice to get another home, Kill your own in USA is OK. AS LONG AS YOU MAKE MONEY
FIRST 4 out of first 5 presidents were MASONS and MASONS are attached to KING SOLOMON, TEMPLE MOUNT which is why they wanted Jews back in Jerusalem.
SO USA STARTED IN TRIPOLI and is still there NOW.
Good evening and welcome to tonight's meeting of The Commonwealth Club ofCalifornia. I am Jeff Farber CEO of the Koret foundation and member of TheCommonwealth Club Board of Directors. Before we begin we would like to tell youabout some up and coming programs of The Commonwealth Club. Join us this Thursday,February 15th when we welcome Ralph Nader, Green Party Leader, former presidentialcandidate and author of "The 17 Traditions" in which he discusses his experiences inpolitics and as a crusader for the environment. This is a noon program here at the Club.Then on Tuesday, February 20th we welcome Paul Barrett who traveled all over the US tointerview Muslim Americans. His experiences are compiled in the new book "AmericanIslam: The Struggle for the Soul of a Religion." This program begins here at noon at theClub. For more information on all our upcoming programs pick up a copy of ourmagazine, The Commonwealth, in the lobby or go to commonwealthclub.org.Now on to the program, you will find question cards on your seats. Please write down anyquestions you have for Michael Oren. Cards would be collected during the program.Please make sure that all cell phones and beepers are turned off. I now will begin theprogram for our radio audience.Good evening and welcome to tonight's meeting of the Commonwealth Club ofCalifornia. I am Jeff Farber CEO of the Koret foundation and member of theCommonwealth Club Board of Directors. This evening we are privileged to host MichaelOren, an accomplished historian and writer with degrees from Princeton and ColumbiaUniversities. Michael has written extensively on the Middle East including Six Days ofWar which was recently nominated for Pulitzer Prize. A senior fellow at the ShalemCenter, a Jerusalem based research facility, Michael served as an officer in the Israelidefense forces. He advised both the Israel delegation to the UN and the government of thelate Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. He received fellowships from the US departments ofstates and defense and from the British and Canadian governments. He was also theauthor of several works of fiction including his most recent novel, Reunion. MichaelOren's new book Power Faith and Fantasy, America in the Middle East draws onthousands of government documents and personal letters to reconstruct the diverse andremarkable ways in which Americans have interacted with the Middle East region. In myview it is an indispensable work for anyone interested in understanding the roots ofAmericas Middle East involvement today.On a personal note I have had an opportunity to spent significant time with Michael andcan tell you that he is one of the keenest political and historical minds in Israel today. Hiswritings literally help shape the future of Israeli policy. I am personally honored to beable to introduce and count such an influential voice, in pro-Israel politics as one of myfriends. Ladies and Gentlemen please join me in welcoming Mr. Michael Oren.Jesus thank you Jeff, Jeff has been a great source of inspiration and sartorial advice tome. My dress has somewhat improved by having spent some significant time with him.Thank you Jeff for mentioning my novel Reunion, which you should know has solddozens of copies and is available in vast in the sort of the soon to be reduced pulpsection of the Barnes and Noble, please get it it's really a good novel. I don't care whatthe marketers think.Imagine imagine join me in imagining for a second that you all of you are highranking American diplomats in the Middle East and you have been assigned to meet withan envoy of a Middle Eastern nation that is conducting a war against the United States.And you are sent to some undisclosed European capital to meet with this envoy and yousay to him that United States bears no animosity to his people or to any people or countryin the Middle East, American people really want to conduct their trade freely in theMiddle Eastern region, free from any threat of physical attack, Americans want to interactopenly with the peoples in the Middle East and perhaps impart some of their Americanideals of democracy and republican government, you make all of these offers to thisMiddle Eastern ruler envoy and this envoy then turns to you and says no, we don'twant peace with you, we want to continue to wage war with you until we overcome andenslave you because the United States is an infidel country and as an infidel country wehave a holy book which tells us that we must conduct this war until we conquer andenslave you and our holy book further tells us that if any of our soldiers are killed in thein the course of conducting this war then those murders will alight immediately to paradise.Now if you had been you have represented the United States in such a negotiation andyou had heard these words, how then would you respond? Well, if you responded that theUnited States really had no choice, but to defend itself, United States had no choice, butto go to war in the Middle East if you those were your response then it would beechoing precisely the prey of a similar American in a similar situation, his name wasThomas Jefferson and the date was March, 1785 and Thomas Jefferson had been sent bythe congress to negotiate with the envoy of Tripoli, today the modern state of Libya.Tripoli, one of the four so-called Barbary states along with what is today known asMorocco, Tunisia and Algeria who were sending pirates, that's the state sponsored piratesto prey on American shipping in the Mediterranean and the American trade in theMediterranean was essential to the fledgling economy of the United States which wasvery fragile in the aftermath of revolutionary war. About 20 percent of America's tradewent through this region. America, a seafaring nation, heavily dependent on its foreigncommerce, America faced extinction at the hands of the Barbary pirates and to furthercompound the problem the United States back then the 1780s was a plural not asingular noun, these United States, the states were not federated, they were loosely boundunder the articles of confederation, there was no central government, there was nopresident, no means of raising taxes and no means of creating a navy because the UnitedStates, after the revolutionary war had not a single gunship, not a single gunboat was leftafter the revolution, America had no means whatsoever to defend itself.Many Americans believed that the only way then, they could survive the threat of theBarbary pirates was to pay them off. Certainly the Europeans had been doing that forcentury, they have been paying what they called euphemistically, tribute to the pirates, thechampion of this school in the United States was John Adams, the second President of theUnited States who during his Presidency the United States was paying about one-fifthof its total federal revenue to Middle Eastern bribery, but Jefferson begged to differ fromthis school, Jefferson, first of all urged Americans to federate, he urged them to fight. Hebelieved, even though it was more expensive to create a navy, wage a war in the distantMiddle East, that it was it was better suited to the American temper Americascharacter, not to not to give in to bribery but more to the point Jefferson believed thatthe more you paid off pirates, the more piracy you would get in return and it will really becounter productive. But Jefferson was very much in the minority in the early 1780s. Themajority of Americans did not even want a navy, they figured a navy might turn its gunson the nascent democratic institutions of the United States and may get Americaentangled in some nasty European quarrels but more to the point Americans did not wantto get bogged down in an open-ended and potentially bloody conflict in the distant Middle East.Today over 220 years later later Americans are confronting similar challenges in theMiddle East. They are forced to make similar choices in the region whether to fight or tonegotiate with their adversaries in the region whether to palliate them or whether perhapsto destroy them. These are fateful decisions that America has to make in the Middle Eastand yet few Americans I would wager are aware at that their founding fathers and theoriginal generations that created this country did face these similar challenges. Very fewAmericans are aware of the centuries-long legacy in the Middle East and we are talkingabout a rich and multidimensional heritage of war and statecraft of altruism andbeneficence of wild artistic imagination and swashbuckling adventure.I would imagine that few Americans - many Americans would be shocked to know thatnot only Jefferson and Adams but also Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln hadMiddle Eastern policies would be shocked to hear that one of the assassins implicated inthe plot against Lincoln in 1865 managed to escape to and was arrested in Egypt thatduring the Civil War about 500 Egyptian soldiers fought in and served in North America.Many Americans would be astonished to hear that the original Statue of Liberty showed aveiled Arab woman holding a torch or that the original lyrics of the "Star SpangledBanner, spoke of humbled Middle Easterners bowing down to the victorious flag of the United States.I, too, at one point in my life would have been surprised to hear all of this. I believed as Ithink many Americans believe that America is involvement in the Middle East reallybegan sometime after World War II with the advent of the Arab is really conflict.America's deepening dependence on Middle Eastern oil, the coming of the Cold War tothe Middle East. I certainly believe this some decades ago when I was in graduateschool studying Arab history and I was listening to a lecture on the history of modernEgypt and the professor rather parenthetically mentioned that in the late 1860s a group ofCivil War veterans, Confederate and Union officers, were sent by the Chief of the U.S.Army - General Sherman, to Egypt to help modernize the Egyptian army. And when theygot to Egypt these veterans discovered that most of the Egyptian army even the officerswas illiterate and they decided to setup schools to teach literacy to Egyptian soldiers andwhen the soldiers showed up at the schools they brought their sons and daughters withthem and so these veterans of Vicksburg and Gettysburg got into the business of teachingEgyptian school children to read and write and while in the process of doing this theybegan to impart American values to these children such as civic virtues, patriotism and democracy.And I was so absolutely fascinated by the story that I ran out to library. I wanted to readmore about it. I found very, very little about it. I found that there were in fact many booksabout the history of Great Britain in the Middle East, many books of the history of Francein the Middle East but no comprehensive history about America in the Middle East -certainly no book that would place these officers rather remarkable experience in Egypt in1860s in some type of meaningful historical context. Flash-forward number of years, theaftermath of 9/11, suddenly American's are being asked to make very fateful decisions inthe Middle East, decisions that will impact not only their future security but the securityof much of the world and there is no one book there is no historical context, no historicalpoint of reference in which to make these great decisions. So in 2002, when I you know,with my editor and good friend went to a restaurant New York. He leaned across the tableand said, "Okay Michael, what is the one book about the Middle East that has yet to bewritten but which absolutely has to be written?" I didn't hesitate a nanosecond, I told him"America in the Middle East" which was wonderful. Signed the contract and then Ithought oh oh, I'm in trouble. My previous book as Jeffery mentioned was about theSix Day of War about six days.All of a sudden now I have to write about 230 years of history and I have to face therather daunting challenge of trying to find the binding themes that somehow united thisvery long and complex narrative. And I began to identify the themes. The first theme thatI did identify was the theme of power and power seems to be the most obvious thing,power being the pursuit of America's vital interest in the Middle East to the applicationof power whether it would be military power, diplomatic power and economic power.Power certainly described the situation faced by the United States and confronting theBarbary threat in the 1780s. In the spring of 1787, when delegates from the statesconvened in Philadelphia to discuss the possible ratification of the constitution that wouldunite these disparate states under a federal government, America was tasting its firsthostage crisis in the Middle East. The Barbary threats had taken 127 American citizenseamen as prisoners in the area and had enslaved them was holding them for ransom andagain remember no navy, no federal government and if you looked at the ratificationdebates notes and the protocols you will find that not only representatives from maritimeStates in New England who had vested interests in the Mediterranean stride were sayingif we do not have a constitution we can't have the federal government without the federalgovernment we can't raise tax and create a navy if we don't have a navy we are not goingto able to defend ourselves. But you found representatives from southern states who wereinvolved in the Mediterranean stride saying the same thing. They said if we don't have aconstitution we will not have a navy, if we don't have a navy we are going to haveAlgerines - as they were called back then. Algerines - landing on the coast of SouthCarolina and capturing and enslaving our sons and daughters.And so Americans did create a constitution. They did unite in becoming United States in1789 and five years later Congress signed into law a bill earmarking $688,983.36 for thecreation of six warships that were specifically designed to fight in the Middle East and theactual bill signed into law by George Washington said that these boats were beingconstructed to fight in the Middle East and fight they did.What in suit was the Americas first overseas military engagement Americas longestoverseas military engagement. The Barbary war lasting from 1783 roughly into thebeginning of the 19th century and there were many, many setbacks in this war. Manysetbacks before 1805 when nine US Marines led 250 mercenaries 500 miles across theLibyan Desert to attack Tripoli from behind as the shores of Tripoli from the marine anthem.Many years before 1850 when Commodore Stephen Decatur, for whom about 27 citiesand towns are named in this country, led the American flee into Tripoli and Tunis harborand finally vanquished the pirates.America had learned its first lessons in power from the Middle East. A mortal threat fromthis region had forced these disparate states to call as into united nations. It hadcompelled them to create power for the first time and to project power for the first timethousands of miles from America's shores. And in creating need able power andprojecting it not to rule the waves but to free the waves. America opened the sea links tothe agents of American faith in the Middle East.And here is the second theme that I identified in the annals of America's involvement inthe Middle East and by faith, I mean first involve religious faith and religious faith largelyof a Protestant variety and I'm talking of a almost an almost irresistible missionary urgeto impart Americas religious beliefs on to the Middle East, but there is also a flipside tothat type of faith it's a civic and secular faith the notion of an America which has toimpart it's civic ideals of democracy republic and government respect for human valuesto the Middle East.This is the faith of a Colonial America, that saw itself as a city on the hill a beacon tothe freedom desperate peoples of the Middle East and elsewhere America the country thathas created not to serve itself but to serve all the humanity and it's the fate of a ColonialAmerica that saw itself as the embodiment of the Biblical Israel. The puritans and thedescendents who came to the sub country in the 17th century had appropriated the Biblicalnarrative. They were now the "new Jews," they were escaping from bondage inEgypt/England crossing the Atlantic ocean which was like the which was like the Zion Adesert and finally reaching the promised land which was this new world and theyproceeded to give about 1000 Biblical names to their towns and cities, of course theJericho's the Bethlehem's, the New Canaan's, they gave Biblical names to their sons anddaughters, the David's and the Isaac's and the Rebecca's and the Sarah's, they madeHebrew a mandatory subject at all of their colleges, James Madison was Hebrew major atPrinceton, they put Hebrew in the logo of Yale and Dartmouth and Columbia and theyreally appropriated this narrative, so much so that at the end of the revolutionary war in1783 when congress had to decide on a great seal for this new nation.Several members of congress presented a great seal that showed an American bald eagleclutching 13 arrows in its talons, you know this seal but another contender for the greatseal showed Moses leading the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt across thedesert, into the Promised Land following the pillar of smoke and it was a very closecontest in congress. Moses came this close from being the symbol of the United States.That it lost and Moses crossing the Zion A, that symbol was designed by ThomasJefferson and by Benjamin Franklin.The as the new Jews of the new world, these Puritan's and these descendants felt apeculiar kinship with the old Jews. Not necessarily - they didn't necessarily love theydidn't really know that many old Jews because the Jewish population of North Americain 1776 was about 0.04 percent. But they felt a peculiar religious kinship and a verystrong attachment to the old Promised Land then of course known as Palestine, part of theOttoman Empire and they developed the notion that as good Christians and later as goodAmericans it was incumbent upon them to help god fulfill his promises made to the oldJews in the old testament and that was to rescue these Jews from exile and to restore themto sovereignty in their ancestral homeland. Thus was born the notion of restorations, thedesire to restore the Jews to their ancient homeland and a near three years after theconclusion of the Barbary wars in 1818 Americas first missionaries departed for theMiddle East. Their names were Pliny Fisk and Levi Parsons in the parting sermon whichthey delivered in old south church in Boston, Parsons and Fisk listed their goals in theMiddle East, their primary goal was to help the Jews of the region in gather into Palestineso that they could recreate their state. There once they have recreated the states theywould convert on mass to Congregationalist Christianity, and failing this Pliny Fisk andLevi Parsons hoped to convert the Muslim Arabic speaking peoples of the Middle East.To their chagrin Fisk and Parsons discovered that the Jews in the Middle East did notwant to in gather under their auspices, did not to want to convert to CongregationalistProtestantism, Fisk and Parsons moreover learnt that when they tried to proselytize theMuslim Arabs, they risked loosing their heads because proselytizing under Islam is acapital offence. And out of frustration Fisk and Parsons turned to building schools. Theybuild the first modern elementary and secondary schools in what is today's Syria andPalestine and their descendants, the people who came to re-enforce them from the UnitedStates by the 1860s were building the first modern western styled Universities in theMiddle East which later became the American University of Cairo, the AmericanUniversity of Beirut, and through these institutions these missionaries and theirdescendents began to foster an entirely different identity in the Middle East. They createdan Arab national identity, a secular identity, in which all the peoples of the Middle Eastwhether there would be Muslims, Christians, Druze or Jews could participate in thisidentity. These missionaries and their descendants were no longer teaching the gospel ofChristianity, they were teaching what they believed was the gospel of Americanism, againcivic virtues, patriotism and democracy and the missionaries and the descendants becamevery closely identified with this Arab nationalist movement. They pressed for theliberation of Arabic speaking lands from Ottoman domination. Later after World War I,from European imperial control. Their sons, grandsons, great grandsons growing up inthis region speaking these languages Arabic, Parsee fluently went into the statedepartment; they became the so called Arabists of the state department.Some of them later went to work as executives as in oil companies, that starting in thelate 1830s 1930s began to exert an increasing influence over Americas policies to theMiddle East. And to the degree that the goals of Arab nationalism after World War Ibecame antithetical to the goals of Jewish nationalism, by this time known, not asrestorationism but as Zionism these champions of the Arab nationalist cause, thedescendants of the original missionary Pliny Fisk and Levi Parsons who went to theMiddle East to recreate Jewish sovereignty became the greatest adversaries of recreatingJewish sovereignty in the land of Palestine. Now this does not means that restorationismdid not remain a popular movement in the Middle East and the United States, in fact itbecame an overwhelmingly popular movement in the United States at the turn of the 18thcentury, John Adams again, the second President of the United States, expressed his hopethat some day 100,000 Jewish soldiers as well disciplined as the French Army he said,that was the French Army back then, would march into Palestine and reclaim it as aJudean kingdom.Abraham Lincoln asked in 1863 what he thought about the restorationist idea said that hethat he recognized that restoring the Jews to their ancient homeland was a dream thatwas dear to a great many Americans and he Lincoln, hoped that after the United Statesrestored its own union after the civil war the United States could work to realize that dream.Perhaps the greatest single expressionist of this great expression of this restorationistconcept appeared in a book published in 1844, it was a big thick great tome called"Valley of the Visions" and in Valley of the Visions there was a call on the United Statesgovernment to spearhead an international effort to detach Palestine from the OttomanEmpire and give it back to the Jews. Valley of the Visions even caused on the UnitedStates Navy to help provision the Jewish state until it can stand on its own economic two legs.Valley of the Visions became something of an antebellum best-seller that went throughabout 30 printing, sold all told by a million copies before the civil war. The author ofthe book was the head of the Department of Scripture and Hebrew Studies at New YorkUniversity and his name was Professor George Bush. And two days at the GenealogyDepartment at the Library of Congress enabled me to ascertain that that George Bush wasa direct forbear of two American presidents of the same name.For other Americans, however, merely envisioning this recreated of Jewish state wasinsufficient. Starting in the 1830s, groups of American Protestants left the United Statesand moved to Palestine to create American colonies there. Some of you may have visitedJerusalem and know the American colony hotel, in east Jerusalem that was the last ofthese colonizing efforts in the 1880s, but starting the 1830s particularly Americanwomen, Clarinda Minor from Philadelphia, Harriet Livermore from Washington pickedup and went to Palestine to create these colonies all for the same extraordinary objectiveof teaching the Jews, how to farm.These were all good Jeffersonian Americans. They believe that that the basis of anyviable modern state was an agrarian economy. They recognized that the Jews have beenin exile for 2000 years, had been disenfranchised from the land and therefore isincumbent upon them again as good Americans, good Christians, to re-acquaint theJews with agriculture so that they could help establish their modern state. And thesecolonies were set up and they suffered terribly from starvation, exposure and attack by bandits.In 1855, Philip Dickson of Groton, Massachusetts, his wife and two daughters moved toPalestine to a barren hill outside of Jaffa that they christened Mount Hope, it was a ratheroptimistic prediction because they again they suffered terribly there. The Dicksondaughters married two Lutheran brothers who were also missionaries in Palestine, by thename of Johann and Friedrich Grosssteinbeck and the Dicksons and the Grosssteinbecksset about to try to teach the Jews how to farm. They didn't want to learn how to farm atthe Dickson farm the Jews of Palestine and again this this colony barely held on tothis hilltop and still Americans came.12 years later, 1867 George Adams, individual from the Indian River, Maine, picked upfrom Indian River with a 156 followers, artisans, merchants, farmers moved to anotherbarren hillside outside Jaffa setup another colony designed to teach the Jews how to farmand they too, suffered just unspeakable hardships from weather and disease and from native attacks.Now back home, meanwhile the that's the notion of the equation of the Jewish statecontinued to blossom 1891 a Midwestern (real estate magnate) William Blackstonesubmitted a petition to the to the Benjamin Harrison Administration, again calling forthe United States to convene an international conference with Queen Victoria of England,the Tsar of Russia all of them are going to put pressure on the Ottoman Empire tosomehow discourage Palestine from this empire and give it back to the Jews. Thispetition submitted to the Whitehouse was signed by 400 prominent Americans, amongthem J D. Rockefeller, Charles Scribner, J. Pierpont Morgan, and a congress member,William McKinley signed this petition.The advocates - the American Christian advocates of Jewish Statehood in Palestine andthe no less adamant detractors would continue to disagree well into the 20th century eveninto the 21st century. If you want to see how deeply they continued to disagree, just take apeep inside to Jimmy Carter's recent books. But what is important to note here is thatwhether they are for or against the recreated Jewish state that all of these Americans willguard the Middle East, engage on the Middle East on the sphere on the plane of faith.They are they are belonged to this faith guided component in America's Middle East involvement.And finally we come to the most illusive and mystical of the themes, that is the theme offantasy. And that is the theme which relates to the deep seeded deeply rooted image ofthe Middle East in the American imagination of a region of unbridled romanticism orexoticism indeed of eroticism - the image of - the road to nomad who sweeps out of thedesert on his steed and sweeps up some innocent Western damsels and takes her off to theoasis or off to his tent. It is an image that was first noted by America's first explorer inthe Middle East, a gentleman by the name of John Ledyard, a Dartmouth dropout but agreat interpreter explorer had traveled around the world with Caption Cook.In 1788, Ledyard became the first American to travel to the Middle East, the firstAmerican to report on his observations of the region in a very vivid correspondence thathe had with his good friend Thomas Jefferson. And through his letters, to Jefferson wesee what the Middle East look like to an American in 1788. And one of the themes thatthat John Ledyard identified, was the notion of the liberty loving nomad. John Ledyardlooked at the bedouin and the desert and what he saw he saw the Middle East counterpartof the Western Frontiersman, the type of people who can roam unfettered through thewilderness. They love liberty and to the degree that the middle-eastern rulers, particularlythe Ottomans had imposed a tyrannical oppressive rule over them that urge for freedomwas suppressed. And Ledyard believed that if a government would come along like theUnites States Government and remove that tyranny that the liberty loving nomads of theMiddle East would rise up and embrace freedom and democracy. Does that soundfamiliar to you? True - that's far back indeed.America's Middle-Eastern fantasies have very deep roots. Indeed going back to the 18thcentury when the second most popular book on the American colonial bookshelf that is ofcourse after the "Bible", was "The 1001 Arabian Nights." This is a collection of medievalPersian tales, you know many of the stories, "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves", "SinbadThe Sailor", Sheherazade story telling for her life. And American's in their frontier cabinsread a "1001 Arabian Nights" and they believed this is what the Middle East actuallylooked like. They had no other first and information about the region. They believed thatthis was the Middle East it was land of of carpets circling minarets of veiled butavailable Arab girls. And lured by these exotic images, many of them picked up andfollowed in the footsteps of John Ledyard.By the 19th century thousands of American's were traveling annually to the Middle East.By the 1850's Americans had surpassed the British as the single largest body of touristsin the Middle East, they hear all these they read these memoirs from British people inthe Middle East complaining how all these rather up-starting Americans have snatched upall the good hotel rooms in Damascus.Among the travelers who came who've read the 1001 Nights and wanted to see thismagical realm for himself was a struggling American author who's previous book MobyDick had sold a mere 3000 copies, I can certainly identify with that and he wanted totravel to the Middle East and and and to to somehow garner a new source ofscintillating-titillating in from inspiration, for his next novel.In 1855, Herman Melville packed two shirts and a toothbrush and went off to the MiddleEast and he kept a just a vivid diary. I I strongly recommend it it as just entertainingreading. It it's a very postmodern and borders on the hallucinogenic and he came to theMiddle East and immediately realized that the Middle East were actually no resemblancewhatsoever to what he had read in "The 1001 Arabian Nights" and wrote about this andyet still American's came.12 years later, another aspiring American writer a humorist from not far from here. Well,he received a a commission from a San-Francisco paper to travel to the Middle East toboard a a steamship, The Quaker City out of Philadelphia and he published his collecteddispatches of his visits to the Middle East under the on the best title of "InnocentsAbroad" and he published it under his brand new penname Mark Twain. "InnocentsAbroad" actually made Mark Twain - Middle East made Mark Twain. "InnocentsAbroad" became the the largest selling book of the second half of the 19th century inAmerica. It sold more copies Twain liked to quite than the Bible. And Twain alsorealized that the Middle East bore absolutely no resemblance to "The 1001 Nights". Hejust he wrote devastatingly about the Middle East and no less devastatingly aboutAmerican tourists in the Middle East who read about all these Americas walking oversledgehammers and lopping off pieces of pyramids and hieroglyphs what hecalled the American vandals original ugly Americans in the Middle East. And this wasvery widely published. People read this and it's still these myths were so deeply ingrained in theAmerican imagination that American tourists continued to flow to the region. And By the20th century, these middle-eastern romantic myths are being appropriated by theburgeoning Hollywood industry. Some of the in the Hollywood's first blockbuster hitswere Middle East fantasy movies.You've all seen "The Sheik of Araby", 1921 which which skyrocketed RudolfValentino to to stardom. The hit song of 1920s, remember "The Sheik of Araby" "I Amthe Sheik of Araby, My heart belongs to thee. At night when you're asleep, into your tentI creep." You like that? Most of certain generations will remember the 1974 hit song byMaria Muldaur, "Midnight At The Oasis", right? It's the exact same lyrics they are onlysung by a woman. Listen to them.They followed an almost unbroken series of middle-eastern fantasy movies, knockoffs ofthe "1001 Nights", "Ali Baba", "Sinbad" and finally the "Indiana Jones", and the"Sahara" and if you really been fortunate enough to you have see "Hidalgo" the"Hidalgos". Mystified by these myths, many Americans might have wondered inSeptember 2001, why all why these romantic figures and flowing robes in their camelsin Oasis would have left the Middle East to come to America to hijack airliners, and to flythem into skyscrapers.Power, faith, and fantasy. Sometimes these themes exist independently in the annals ofthe America's Middle East interaction. More often they are not - there is tension betweenthe - more often not there was actually open conflict between them as they intertwinedbinding this narrative in a threadlike mannerFor example, fantasy met up with faith in 1855, when Herman Melville visited theDickson colony outside of Jaffa on Mount Hope. He had lunch with Mr. & Mrs. Dicksonhe had lunch with the Grosssteinbeck brothers - Friedrich and Johann Grosssteinbeck. Hewrote of them rather disparagingly in his in his diary - a very bleak picture of life on this colony.A month after Melville's visit to the Dickson colony, the farm was attacked by bedouinbandits. Philip Dickson was knocked mortally on the head. His wife and two daughterswere brutally and repeatedly raped by these bandits. Friedrich Grosssteinbeck was shot inthe groin and died an agonizing and slow death. And the only person to emerge unsavedfrom the Dickson colony was Johann Grosssteinbeck, whom according to the consulrecords at this point left Palestine, moved to California. Again not far from here andAmericanized his name.Melville would allude to the bedouin attack on the Dickson colony in his 18,000 linepoem Clarel, this one I don't recommend its about this thick and but so too wouldJohann Grosssteinbeck's grandson in but also mentioned the rape of the Dicksonwomen in his biblical tragic epics East of Eden and Grapes of Wrath.Johann Grosssteinbeck's grandfather had had lunch with them in Melville on a in acolony in Palestine in 1855 dedicated to the recreation of a Jewish state in Palestine, themixing of faith and fantasy. Faith and fantasy would blend again in 1867, when TheQuaker City, carrying the aspiring Mark Twain helped evacuate the 47 survivors of theof the George Adams colony from Palestine and then the last chapter envisions a broadyou will see a description of just what terrible shape these poor colonists had been in.Faith grappled with power in 1917 when Woodrow Wilson brought America into WorldWar I, Woodrow Wilson brought declared war against the central powers that isGermany, Austria, Hungary but there was a third central power it was the Ottomanempire and while both houses of Congress urged Wilson to declare war against the Turksas well, Wilson hesitated. The missionaries in the Middle East came to Wilson and saidMr. President, if you declare war on the Ottoman Empire the Turks would do to ourpeople, to our missionaries what they have been doing to their Armenians, they have beenmassacaring the Armenians by the hundreds of thousands. Wilson, the grandson, the sonand the nephew of Presbyterian ministers was very close to the missionaries and in theend he never declared war against the Ottoman Empire.The result was the French and the British went to war against the Ottoman Empire, at theend of the war there were about a million British soldiers in Middle East, several 100,000French soldiers in the Middle East, not one American soldier in the Middle East, guesswhich countries got to draw the postwar map of the Middle East. Not the United States,probably the most fateful decision ever taken by an American president about this regime,extraordinary. And faith trumped power finally in 1948 - May 1948 after the UN headpartitioned Palestine into an independent Jewish and Arab state after the Jewish state wasset to come into being, declared it independence on May 14th, the American policyestablishment, in a completely unique episode in the annals of American foreign policytoured the region, submitted a uniform warning to the president. Really there was nodescending view. The state department, the defense department, the Pentagon warned thepresident that the United States recognized the soon to be declared Jewish state, it wouldin fact it would effect a global catastrophe. The Arab oil producing states would runinto the Soviet camp in the cold war, there would be a cold this cut-off of oil supplies tothe west, Europe would fall to communism and worst of all the United States militarywould have to intervene in Palestine to save the Jews of the country there who were soonto be massacred by invading Arab armies. All of these warnings were submitted to thepresident and his name was Harry Truman.Harry Truman from a strict Baptist upbringing had claimed to have memorized the Bibleby age 14, listened to all these arguments on May 12th, locked himself into the WhiteHouse for two days, we do not know what transpired in his mind, rather uniquely hewrote nothing in his diary during those two days, all we know is that at 6:11 pmWashington time, 11 minutes after Israel declared its independence Harry Trumanignored the advice of all of his advisors including his secretary of state George Marshallwho said he wouldn't even vote for Harry Truman if he recognized the Jewish state, at6:11 pm Harry Truman made the United States the first country on earth to recognize therecreated Jewish state of Israel. Why did he do this why did he risked when all of hisadvisors said it was global catastrophe? We don't know. We only know that severalweeks later a delegation of visitors was in the White House, they ran into Harry Trumanin the hallway and Truman is introduced to them as the president who helped create thestate of Israel and Truman was insulted. He turned red and started screaming helped tocreate the Jewish state, help create Israel, I didn't help it, I created Israel, I am Cyrus hesaid, I am Cyrus - those of you less familiar with your bible know that Cyrus was theancient Persian king who restored the Jewish people to Palestine so they could recreatetheir state there.Since 1948, since Americas ascendancy as the primary western power in the Middle Eastreplacing the colonial powers of Britain and France, since Americas deepeningdependence on Middle Eastern sources of oil and its continued involvement in the ArabIsraeli conflict, America has had to struggle mightily to reconcile these competingimpulses of power, faith and fantasy. The result has been an almost dizzying andzigzagging of America's foreign policy towards the region.For example, in 1953, America volunteered with Britain in overthrowing a popularIranian Prime Minister, a nationalist by the name of Mohammed Mossadeq whom theBritish and the Americans suspected was getting a little bit too close to the Soviets in thecold war. But the same Eisenhower administration three years later turned on the Britishas well as the French to rescue another Middle East nationalist leader, President GamalAbdel Nasser of Egypt, from a certain overthrow by the British and the French in the Suez crisis.The United States had sent its forces to fight against Libya, against Syria, and againstIran, and yet it is widely unknown in this country and certainly forgotten in the MiddleEast that the United States played a pivotal in securing the independence of Syria, Libya and Iran.American presidents have consistently supported the state of Israel and yet at crucialjunctures in history American presidents have levied arms and Embargos on the Jewishstate, they have pressured Israeli leaders to relinquish territories which those leaders feltwere vital to Israel security.Ronald Reagan in the 1980s beefed up Saddam Hussein as a counterpoise to the Iran, andthen turned around and sold American weapons to Iran in an effort to induce the Iraniansto kidnap fewer American hostages in Lebanon, basically violating Thomas Jefferson'sfirst rule of the Barbary wars that if you bribe pirates you are liable to get more piracy.American leaders strove to create a Pax Americana in the Middle East. And yet since1970s beginning in 1979, the United States armed forces have been engaged almostuninterruptedly in what is nearly a 30 years war in the Middle East and here in Americawe have been able to watch as our American service women and service men have wornuniforms that have burnished from a light Vietnamese green in the 1970s to a tawnyArabian brown today. I am always struck with that mid western airports to see theseservice men coming through wearing the colors of the Middle East.And then in 2003, the United States invaded Iraq, and for one gleaming moment itseemed all of this had come together here were the previlers of American power, theAmerican army and Marine Corps patrolling the streets of the fabled capital of the 1001Nights, Baghdad, and they were there imparting American values, American democracyto a people that seemed desperate to rise up and embrace it.And that moment alas, has proven fleeting.Today Americans must once again strive to balance their vital interests in the Middle Eastwhile upholding their sacred precepts, their ideals, all the while distinguish between -distinguishing between the real and the mythic Middle East. That task is gargantuan and Ihate to disappoint but my book does not prescribe a path to realizing that path, as ahistorian I always say I have enough trouble predicting the past.And yet I do first of all want to share my fascination with you and indeed with all ofmy readers on this subject, this remarkable history, I wanted to tell them why the originalStatue of Liberty was an Arab woman with a veil holding a torch, why the original lyricsof "The Star-Spangled Banner" spoke of humbled Middle Easterners bowing down to thevictorious American flag, to hear those stories in any type of depth you are just going tohave to read this book.But far more crucially and seriously I wanted to instill in my readers and all of you anappreciation of America's extraordinary legacy in the Middle East. It's a legacy ofmilitancy indeed at times, of greed, yes but also one of generosity, of tolerance, and ofcourage. My aim is to provide a context of the past in which Americans now profoundly,and some would even argue existentially involved in the Middle East can begin to chart their future.Thank you.