An American Vision for the Middle East (Paperback)
The Middle East has long been home to numerous ethnic and religious groups. The stories internal to those groups define the region's dynamics. The dominant group, the Sunni Arabs, has spent the past century torn between an ideological quest for a unified empire and a ruling class that benefits greatly from the existing international order. The key Shiite story is the Khomeinist revolution, which set out to galvanize a religious minority that had traditionally separated clerical from temporal authority into an eschatological theocratic movement. Nearly all of the region's other minorities-Jews, Christians, Kurds, Druze, Alawites, Yazidis, and others-have tiptoed through this minefield seeking either integration or self-determination. Sunni Imperialism, Shiite revolution, minority self-determination, and the interplay among them, provide a coherent narrative explaining the region's history since the fall of the Ottoman Empire a century ago. Where most approaches to the Middle East see a collection of unrelated irreconcilable conflicts and a steady stream of crises, this new narrative ties together many of the region's seminal events, including: - The Arab/Israeli conflict, the "Palestinians," the PLO, and the PA; - The surprising durability of both Saudi Arabia and Israel as American allies; - The Iran/Iraq war, Desert Storm, and post-Saddam Iraq; - Sunni Islamism, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, al Qaeda & ISIS; - The "Arab Spring" and its aftermath; - The Iranian revolution, the Syrian/Iranian allegiance, Hezbollah, and the region's Shiites; - The Yemeni civil war of 1960s and the Lebanese civil war of 1970s & 80s; - Nasser, the United Arab Republic, the Arab League, and pan-Arabism; - OPEC and the strategic split between "Price Hawk" and "Demand Hawk" oil producers. This coherence also provides a guide to American policy. The U.S. should be anti-imperial and anti-revolutionary. The U.S. should promote ethnic self-determination, beginning with safe-havens for each of the various ethnic groups facing dislocation. The U.S. should extoll Israel as the only successful example of ethnic self-determination in the region, help Israel preserve its status as a secure Jewish state, and enlist Israeli support and guidance in ushering the region's other minorities towards statehood. The refugees flowing across the region are harbingers of massive dislocations and population exchanges that will reshape the map. The reconfiguration of the Middle East will emerge as a dominant story of the twenty-first century. The U.S. will not avoid the turmoil; its choices are to nudge it in directions consistent with American interests and values or to react haphazardly to individual crises.