In recent years, a growing number of experts claiming personal and familial ties to the Middle East have joined elite foreign policy think tanks in Washington, DC, in an effort to shape US policy debates on this complex region. Based on more than two years of ethnographic research within DC, this study contends that such diasporic experts have come to play a specialized role for US empire. Specifically, they serve as “multiplicitous diplomats” who use their connections to the region to navigate and translate the interests of competing political elites in Washington by strategically circulating ideas, people, and funding to and from the Middle East. Such observations reveal the extent to which the US empire functions in practice as a transnationally contested site of power. Furthermore, this study demonstrates how the “Middle East” operates within and enacts influence over the United States, as these diasporic experts bring the voices, anxieties, and power of entities in the region and its many diasporas into elite US policy debates.

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