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Stephen Zunes
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Dr. Stephen Zunes is a Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, where he chairs the program in Middle Eastern Studies. A native of North Carolina, Professor Zunes received his PhD. from Cornell University, his M.A. from Temple University and his B.A. from Oberlin College. He has previously served on the faculty of Ithaca College, the University of Puget Sound, and Whitman College. He serves as an advisory committee member and Middle East editor for the Foreign Policy in Focus project of the Institute for Policy Studies, an associate editor of Peace Review, and chair of the board of academic advisors for the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict.



Professor Zunes is the author of scores of articles for scholarly and general readership on Middle Eastern politics, U.S. foreign policy, international terrorism, nuclear nonproliferation, strategic nonviolent action, and human rights. He is the principal editor of Nonviolent Social Movements (Blackwell Publishers, 1999), the author of the highly-acclaimed Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism (Common Courage Press, 2003) and co-author (with Jacob Mundy) of the forthcoming Western Sahara: Nationalism, Conflict, and International Accountability (Syracuse University Press.)

He has been a recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship on Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies at Dartmouth College and a Human Rights Fellowship at the Center for Law and Global Justice at the University of San Francisco. He has also served as a research associate for the Center for Global, International and Regional Studies at the University of California--Santa Cruz. He has been a recipient of a Joseph J. Malone Fellowship in Arab and Islamic Studies as well as research grants through the Institute for Global Security Studies, the United States Institute of Peace, and the International Resource Center. In the early 1990s, Dr, Zunes served as founding director of the Institute for a New Middle East Policy in Seattle. In 2002, he won recognition from the Peace and Justice Studies Association as Peace Scholar of the Year.


Dr. Zunes has made frequent visits to the Middle East and other conflict regions, where he has met with top government officials, academics, journalists and opposition leaders.


Dr. Zunes is a foreign affairs columnist for the National Catholic Reporter and a regular contributor to the Common Dreams website and Tikkun magazine. His op-ed columns have appeared in major daily newspapers throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. In addition, he has spoken at over 80 colleges and universities and scores of community groups and is a frequent guest on National Public Radio, Pacifica Radio, PBS, BBC, MSNBC and other media outlets for analysis on breaking world events. He serves as a consultant and board member for a number of peace and human rights organizations in both the United States and overseas.

Entries by Stephen Zunes

The Latest Blow to Israeli-Palestinian Peace

(80) Comments | Posted January 21, 2015 | 3:06 PM

Though not technically using its veto power, the Obama administration is responsible for the defeat of a draft UN Security Council resolution passed at the end of last month calling for a "just, lasting and comprehensive peaceful solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Reiterating a series of UN Security...

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The Bipartisan Congressional Attack on Human Rights and International Law

(1) Comments | Posted November 13, 2014 | 2:10 PM

On November 5, Amnesty International released another report on this summer's fighting between Israeli and Hamas forces report revealing "a pattern of frequent Israeli attacks using large aerial bombs to level civilian homes, sometimes killing entire families," exposing "a pattern of attacks on civilian homes by Israeli forces...

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The U.S. and ISIS

(0) Comments | Posted September 5, 2014 | 4:35 PM

This column originally appeared in Progressive.org

At the start of classes one year ago, I was having to explain to my students why the United States appeared to be on the verge of going to war against the Syrian government. At the beginning of this semester, exactly one year later,...

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U.S. Culpability in the Failure of Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks

(0) Comments | Posted June 9, 2014 | 9:28 PM

The Obama administration deserves much of the blame for the failure of the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

It had originally been hoped that the United States would present a binding framework along the lines of what moderate Israeli and Palestinian political leaders had agreed to in...

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Straight Talk on Ukraine

(13) Comments | Posted March 16, 2014 | 1:36 PM

Originally appeared in a longer version in Foreign Policy in Focus.

It's been interesting to observe those who are trying to blame the ongoing crisis in Ukraine on the Obama administration for either intervening too much or not intervening enough.

On the right, you have political figures claiming that Obama's...

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Regime Repression and Paranoia Grows in Egypt

(0) Comments | Posted March 3, 2014 | 6:11 PM

This story appeared in the February 28 issue of the National Catholic Reporter.


Since the military coup in Egypt against the unpopular but democratically elected government of Mohammed Morsi last July, more than 1,000 regime opponents have been killed, thousands more have been hauled before military courts on...

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The U.S. Role in Iraq's Upsurge of Violence

(0) Comments | Posted January 31, 2014 | 6:25 PM

Originally posted in the Jan 31-Feb 13, 2014 edition of the National Catholic Reporter.

The tragic upsurge of violence in Iraq in recent months, including the takeover of sections of two major Iraqi cities by al-Qaida affiliates, is a direct consequence of the repression of peaceful dissent by the U.S.-backed...

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Obama Ignores Morocco's Illegal Occupation and Human Rights Abuses

(7) Comments | Posted December 22, 2013 | 11:58 AM

Late last month, President Barack Obama met with Morocco's King Mohammed VI in Washington for their first face-to-face meeting. The result was a bitter disappointment for supporters of human rights and international law.

Two days before the summit, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a statement calling on the...

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Mandela's Utilitarianism and the Struggle for Liberation

(0) Comments | Posted December 18, 2013 | 10:38 AM

This article was originally posted on Open Democracy on 13 December.

In the weeks since his death at age 95, Nelson Mandela's thinking on the strategic direction of the liberation struggle in South Africa has been oversimplified by proponents of nonviolent and armed resistance alike.

While, on principle, Mandela...

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Congressional Hardliners vs. Obama on Iran

(2) Comments | Posted November 5, 2013 | 5:13 PM

Hardliners in Tehran are not happy with the recent rapprochement between the United States and Iran and the related progress in negotiations to address Western concerns about the Iranian nuclear program. But the bigger threat may come from hardliners in the Washington, including prominent congressional Democrats.

As the first step...

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Nobel Peace Prize to OPCW Rebukes U.S. Unilateralism

(92) Comments | Posted October 17, 2013 | 7:42 PM

The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), one of the most effective instruments for international arms control, sends an important message to those who have insisted that unilateral military action is the best means to eliminate and prevent the use...

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U.S. Record on Chemical Weapons Weakens Standing in Challenging Syria

(5) Comments | Posted September 11, 2013 | 5:54 PM

The Syrian regime's apparent use of chemical weapons against civilian areas on August 21 constitutes a breach of the Geneva Protocol of 1925, one of the world's most important disarmament treaties, which banned the use of chemical weapons. The Obama administration has made clear that the only way the Syrian...

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Six Reasons to Oppose an Attack on Syria

(60) Comments | Posted September 6, 2013 | 11:40 AM

The decision by President Barack Obama to first seek congressional approval of any US military action against Syria is good and important, not only on constitutional grounds but because it gives the American people an opportunity to stop it.

Here are some of the top talking points that should be...

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Washington and the Egyptian Tragedy

(9) Comments | Posted August 22, 2013 | 5:55 PM

As in El Salvador, Nicaragua, East Timor, Angola, Lebanon, and Gaza in previous years, the massive killing of civilians in Egypt is being done with U.S.-provided weapons by a U.S.-backed government. As a result, the Obama administration and Congress are morally culpable for the unfolding tragedy.

As with many of...

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Ed Markey Gains Progressive Support Despite Hawkish Foreign Policy Agenda

(6) Comments | Posted June 13, 2013 | 3:23 PM

Democratic Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts is heavily favored to win the June 25 special election to fill the US Senate seat in Massachusetts vacated by John Kerry's appointment as Secretary of State. Markey's campaign has received widespread and enthusiastic backing from the progressive community, including endorsements from groups such...

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Despite Horrific Repression, the U.S. Should Stay Out of Syria

(3) Comments | Posted May 30, 2013 | 6:14 PM

The worsening violence and repression in Syria has left policymakers scrambling in desperation to "do something." This has led to increasing calls for the United States to provide military aid to armed insurgents or even engage in direct military intervention, especially in light of the regime's possible use of chemical...

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US Policy on Gaza Crisis Rife With Contradiction

(112) Comments | Posted January 8, 2013 | 6:05 PM

This article originally appeared in the December 21, 2012 edition of the National Catholic Reporter

The Obama administration's reaction to November's Israeli onslaught on the Gaza Strip is emblematic of the contradictions in its foreign policy seen throughout its first term.

On the one hand, pushed by both Republicans and...

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The Case Against Kerry

(19) Comments | Posted January 7, 2013 | 9:45 AM

President Obama's selection of John Kerry as the next secretary of state sends the wrong signal to America's allies and adversaries alike. Though one of the more progressive members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier in his career, Kerry later became a prominent supporter of various neoconservative initiatives, including...

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Obama's Unconscionable Decision

(35) Comments | Posted November 29, 2012 | 7:21 PM

The November 22 cease-fire between Israeli and Hamas forces is a huge relief for the civilian population on both sides -- the primary victims of the conflict. But the Obama administration's unconscionable decision the previous week to block a cease-fire effort by the UN Security Council not only resulted in...

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Obama, Romney, and the Foreign Policy Debate

(1) Comments | Posted October 29, 2012 | 7:10 PM

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the third and final presidential debate of the 2012 campaign was the similarity between the two candidates on many basic foreign policy issues. Part of the reason is that, as he did in the first two debates, GOP candidate Mitt Romney reversed himself on...

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