The End of Modern History in the Middle East

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9780817912963: The End of Modern History in the Middle East
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With the ending of global strategic confrontation between superpowers, those in the Middle East must adjust to a new reality: to accept final responsibility for their own affairs, to make and recognize their mistakes, and to accept the consequences. In The End of Modern History in the Middle East, Bernard Lewis discusses the future of the region in this new, postimperialist era. For each and every country and for the region as a whole, he explains, there is a range of alternative futures: at one end, cooperation and progress; at the other, a vicious circle of poverty and ignorance.

The author examines in detail the issues most critical to the region’s future. He describes oil as the current, most important export to the outside world from the Middle East but warns that technology will eventually make it obsolete, leaving those who depend solely on oil revenues with a bleak future. The three factors that could most help transform the Middle East, according to Lewis, are Turkey, Israel, and women.  He also argues that there is enough in the traditional culture of Islam on the one hand and the modern experience of the Muslim peoples on the other to provide the basis for an advance toward freedom in the true sense of that word and to achieve the social, cultural, and scientific changes necessary to bring the Middle East into line with the developed countries of both West and East.

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From the Inside Flap:

For the first time in almost two hundred years, the rulers, and to some extent the peoples, of the Middle East must accept responsibility for their own affairs, to make and recognize their own mistakes, and to accept the consequences. Today, increasing numbers of Middle Easterners, disillusioned with past ideals and—in many countries—alienated from their present rulers, are turning their thoughts or their loyalties or both to one of two ideologies: liberal democracy or Islamic fundamentalism. Each offers a reasoned diagnosis of the ills of the region and a prescription for their cure. But if freedom fails and terror triumphs, the peoples of Islam will be the first and greatest victims. They will not be alone, and many others will suffer with them.

In The End of Modern History in the Middle East, Bernard Lewis looks at this new era there. With the departure of imperial powers, the region must now, on its own, resolve the political, economic, cultural, and societal problems that have held it back in the world. Lewis details the critical issues for the future of the region—not surprisingly, oil and water will be key—and the important elements that could help transform the Middle East: women, Turkey, and Israel. Women, he explains, have the strongest vested interest in social and political freedom. Turkey can and probably will play a growing role in the region because the Turks have greater political experience, a more developed economy, and a more balanced society than the Arab states. And the Arab-Israeli conflict as well, in one way or another, will profoundly influence the development of the region as a whole. If the struggle becomes more bitter, it will have a corrosive effect on both Israeli and Arab societies. Peace, in contrast, would speed the progress of the region toward a new age of advanced technology and political freedom. But the continuing struggle within the region, with the consequent diversion of energy and resources to the politics and weaponry of war, can only make likely a resumption of outside interference and domination.

From the Back Cover:

The Middle East—on its own at last

With the departure of imperial powers, the Middle East must now, on its own, resolve the political, economic, cultural, and societal problems that prevent it from accomplishing the next stage in advancing civilization. In The End of Modern History in the Middle East, Bernard Lewis discusses the future of the region in this new, post imperialist era. For each and every country and for the region as a whole, he explains, there is a range of alternative futures: at one end, cooperation and progress; at the other, a vicious circle of poverty and ignorance.

The author examines in detail the issues most critical to the future of the region. He describes oil as the current most important export to the outside world from the Middle East but warns that technology will eventually make it obsolete, leaving those who depend solely on oil revenues with a bleak future. He also explains why water will become a contentious issue between nations of the region—offering a challenging choice between conflict and cooperation. The three factors that could most help transform the Middle East, according to Lewis, are Turkey, Israel, and women. If freedom fails and terror triumphs, he warns, the peoples of Islam will be the first and greatest victims.

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