Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lawrence Freedman - Big Ideas

TVO's podcast Big Ideas had a lecture with Lawrence Freedman (audio) in which he comments on his book A choice of enemies; America confronts the Middle East. This is a lecture with a historical perspective on US foreign policy in the Middle East.

In many ways, Freedmans outstanding lecture was an echo of a point also made in the excellent history and political science series from Stanford: The History of the International System. 1979 is a year with a couple of occurrences in the geopolitcs of the Middle East that break away from the Cold War logic of the time and are the harbingers of a new world order that is to come and that we have become familiar with today. The Egypt-Israel peace initiative, The revolution in Iran and (of you wish) the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan.

What makes Freedman's lecture refreshing is the emphasis on history. It gives a much clearer perspective on the geopolitics of the Middle-East and makes many of its feature much less surprising. So much less so that Freedman hardly avoids scolding foreign policy makers for not knowing their history and rerun old policies with old failing over and over again. After the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan came the US variety, with equal problematic outcome. After the British failure to dictate state building in Iraq, the US ran into the same conundrum. This lecture is indispensable for the podcast listener who tries to get a grip on the Middle-East.

More Big Ideas:
New Learning - Don Tapscott on Big Ideas,
On Crime,
Why isn't the whole world developed?,
The role and place of the intellectual,
Disaster Capitalism.

More History of the International System:
The State in The International System,
A century of geopolitics,
History of the International System.

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