So I've decided to start writing a blog. This project is my attempt to understand the most pressing issues of the Middle East and international politics, with the aim of educating others and providing a forum for informed, civilized discussion. My background is primarily in History, Middle East Studies, and Political Science. Though I hold a graduate degree in contemporary Middle East History from the University of Utah, I fully acknowledge that I have regrettably been unable to ever visit the region itself. Though I will attempt to prevent it, this unfortunate bias may present itself in both my historical analysis and my opinions. It is for this reason I have titled my blog "The Orientalist Express," a reference to Edward Said and his theory which discusses the phenomenon of viewing the "Orient" through a strictly "Western" framework. Still, this does not disqualify me from voicing my opinions on critical issues. It is with all this in mind that I begin this project.