Wednesday 7 March 2018 International Seminar
Weapons of Mass Destruction and US Foreign Policy in the Middle East

■Click on this link to see more details about this seminar in English.
■This seminar will be held as part of our “Pariah Weapons” project.

In recent decades the rhetoric of US foreign policy in the Middle East has often centered on pariah weapons. The danger of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) was the Bush administration’s chief justification for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The Obama administration’s rhetoric on the Syrian civil war prominently drew a redline separating mass destructive chemical weapons from conventional arms. And president Trump cited the Assad regime’s “horrible chemical attack on innocent civilians” to justify a punitive airstrike on a Syrian air base. Critics of these policies have contested the accuracy and merit of the administrations’ claims, but they stopped short of raising questions about the rhetorical construction and function of these claims. How did the rhetorical trope WMD emerge and how did it come to include chemical and other non-atomic weapons?
How did the meaning of this concept change over time? How do pariah weapons influence politics in the Middle East, as opposed to conventional forms of warfare? Has the use, or threatened use, of pariah weapons changed international responses to Middle East crises? How did the repetitive talk of WMD by the Bush administration and the media construct a grave sense of Iraqi threat as much as it described such a threat? How did president Obama’s redline rhetoric serve his interest in avoiding intervention in the Syrian civil war?
 These questions will be discussed on Wednesday, 7 March 2018, at an open seminar titled,“Weapons of Mass Destruction and US Foreign Policy in the Middle East: Genealogy of Pariah Weapons.” The seminar is sponsored by the Meiji University Research Institute for the History of Global Arms Transfer and co-sponsored by the Arms and Civil Society Research Forum. Our guest speakers will be Dr. Ido Oren, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Florida, and Dr. Michelle Bentley, Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Royal Holloway, the University of London.

Date and time

Wednesday 7 March 2018, 6:30PM-8:30PM (Venue opens at 6:00PM)


Room 4021, Second Floor, Global Front Building, Meiji University


Entry fee


Seating capacity

Maximum 45 seats


Pre-register before 6 March 2018 using the link below. We will close the registration when the number of applicants reaches the capacity. Your information will be kept confidential by the Arms and Civil Society Research Forum and will be used to provide you with information on its events.