PSIA Seminar: Why Simple and Clear Strategies Can Be Dangerous – The Case of US-Saudi Relations during Clinton’s Presidency

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YEREVAN, Armenia – On November 22, the Political Science and International Affairs program (PSIA) of the American University of Armenia (AUA) organized a seminar dedicated to exploring the case of U.S.-Saudi relations during 42nd U.S. President Bill Clinton’s term in office. In general, the U.S.-Saudi relations became a matter of numerous debates when the U.S. Senate passed the “9/11 bill” and the so-called “28-page document” that suggested ties between former Saudi officials and the 9/11 hijackers was declassified. These documents provoked questions as to how justified the position towards Saudi Arabia was during the period when terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda began their anti-American campaigns.

This seminar was aimed at shedding light on the issue by exploring the U.S. perception of Saudis during Bill Clinton’s presidency. The paper presents during the seminar by speaker Alen Shadunts gave a thematic analysis of statements made by key foreign policy decision-makers in Washington, D.C. to illustrate the main features of the U.S. position. The paper then went on to juxtapose these findings with the actual developments in the discussed period. As a result, the research finds certain misconceptions in the U.S. government about Saudi Arabia.

Finally, with the help of the Cognitive Schemata Theory the Alen Shadunts’ paper claims that these misperceptions are due to oversimplified categorizations and superficial historical analogies. The seminar will also addressed how the findings of the paper can be applied to current events, such as “the Obama Doctrine” and the Syrian Crisis.

Alen Shadunts is a graduate of the MSc in International Relations (Research) program at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). He specializes in Theories of International Relations and Foreign Policy Analysis. Alen’s research interests include Identity and Change in International Relations, Iranian Foreign Policy, and Social Constructivist and Post-Structuralist Theories in International Relations. Alen is also an alumnus of the Master of Political Science and International Affairs program at AUA and has Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Yerevan State University.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality, graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.

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