Sunday, January 25, 2015

The End of the Modern Middle East by Bernard Lewis

I just finished The End of the Modern Middle East by Bernard Lewis, a very sobering rumination of how the Middle East is being taken back by Islam with a rejection of most modern European innovations (Democracy etc) except for current military capabilities and weapons of mass destruction.  This short volume seems to define the period that is ending.  Mr. Lewis discusses the difficult situation of Iran's ideological positions.

In 1798, when Napoleon entered Egypt, the indigenous people were shocked at the ease with which the French were able to conquer the land and ever since have had to contend with imperial powers meddling in Islamic affairs.  

One must always be aware that a Muslim mindset expects success in all aspects of political and religious affairs because Muhammad, in their view, was not only a successful prophet but also a successful king/conqueror, creating a large nation.  The modern Middle East reflects the influences of England, France Russia and the USA, however, now it is clear that the European nations and the USA desire to withdraw from the region and as result of this withdrawal, the different factions of Islam are jockeying and rallying for position and supremacy in the region. Who will be the next Islamic power? ISIS, Iran, Turkey?

Mr. Lewis ruminates about Anti-semitism that has morphed into a virulent strain of Israel bashing. Iran and Turkey seem to lead in the ferocious rhetoric.  As ever the optimist, Mr. Lewis does not give up on the region but is willing to wait for the emergence of a just power similar to the Ottoman empire, one in which the Jewish people were able to generally prosper.  As Iran continues toward the Nuclear threshold, there is always the hope that it's leadership will develop into another Cyrus and not a Haman. 

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