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March 25, 2019 at 10:27 am

Abu-Rish Surveyed on Accuracy of Vice President’s Middle East Comments

Dr. Ziad Abu-Rish, portrait

Dr. Ziad Abu-Rish

Dr. Ziad Abu-Rish, Assistant Professor of History and Director of Middle East and North Africa Studies at Ohio University, was featured in History News Network analysis of the accuracy of comments made by Vice President Mike Pence headlined “Mike Pence Says the US Has Been ‘A Force For Good in the Middle East’ for ‘nearly 200 years’; Here’s How Historians Responded.”

On Feb. 14, 2019, the Vice President stated, “For nearly 200 years, stretching back to our Treaty of Amity and Commerce with Oman, the United States has been a force for good in the Middle East.”

The History News Network article synthesized the responses of eight historians surveyed on the accuracy of Pence’s claim. Each historian rated the degree of truthfulness of the comment and proceeded to provide both an explanation of their rating and recommended readings. The overwhelming majority of those survey rated the Vice President’s comments as “more or less false.”

Abu-Rish focused his commentary on the decades prior to 1990, claiming that would give the Vice President “a chance at being correct.” He nevertheless went onto to describe “the broader 20th-century record of U.S. policies” as including:

supporting or directly facilitating the post-World War I partitioning and European occupation of much of the Middle East, coup d’etats in Syria (1949), Iran (1953), and Iraq (1963), the dictatorial regimes of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Iran (pre-1979), and Iraq (when Saddam advanced US interests in the region), and Israeli policies of displacement, occupation, discrimination, and war. Simply put, the claim that the US has been a force for good defies the archival record (including that of the US government), which historians have long analyzed.

Read the entirety of Abu-Rish’s commentary and those of other historians.

In Fall 2019, Abu-Rish will be offering his HIST 3371: Middle East History, 1500—Present, which includes a unit on the role of U.S. foreign policy in shaping the modern history of the region.

For more on Abu-Rish’s research and teaching interests, visit his profile on the History Department website.

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