Scholarship and Service: Reconsidering the Arab Uprisings


Tamara Wittes

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Event Description

Tamara Wittes, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, wrote a book about the decline of Arab autocratic states in 2008, and then found herself working for President Obama and Secretary Clinton in the Near Eastern Affairs Bureau of the State Department when uprisings threatened to collapse those regimes in 2011. How did her scholarship of Middle East politics and policy prepare her for that moment, and what did it leave out? When truly unexpected events hit US foreign policy, is it possible for policy makers to learn or assimilate new understandings while managing a crisis?

Speaker Biography

Tamara Cofman Wittes is a senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings, where she focuses on U.S. policy in the Middle East.

Wittes served as deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs from November of 2009 to January 2012, coordinating U.S. policy on democracy and human rights in the Middle East during the Arab uprisings. Wittes is a co-host of Rational Security, a weekly podcast on foreign policy and national security issues. She is currently writing a book, Our SOBs, on the tangled history of America’s ties to autocratic allies.

Wittes joined Brookings in December of 2003. Previously, she served as a Middle East specialist at the U.S. Institute of Peace and director of programs at the Middle East Institute in Washington. She has also taught courses in international relations and security studies at Georgetown University. Wittes was one of the first recipients of the Rabin-Peres Peace Award, established by President Bill Clinton in 1997.

Wittes is the author of "Freedom’s Unsteady March: America’s Role in Building Arab Democracy" (Brookings Institution Press, 2008) and the editor of "How Israelis and Palestinians Negotiate: A Cross-Cultural Analysis of the Oslo Peace Process" (USIP, 2005). She holds a bachelor's in Judaic and Near Eastern studies from Oberlin College, and a master's and doctorate in government from Georgetown University. She is a founder of the Leadership Council for Women in National Security and serves on the board of the National Democratic Institute. She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and Women in International Security.

Subject Headings

Arab Spring, Middle East, United States--Middle East relations, United States foreign affairs, U.S. foreign policy--Middle East


CWRU School of Law Virtual Event

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