The Middle East: Critical Choices for the United States

By Eugene V. Rostow | Go to book overview

4
The Middle East

GIL CARL ALROY

I would like to address the nature of the Middle Eastern world, as distinct from the nature of policy toward it. The importance of accurate knowledge of a region for shaping policy concerning that region is surely self-evident.

How good is our knowledge of the Middle East? Today I bring you good news and bad news. First the good news, which may surprise the many who feel the Middle East is mysterious, controversial, mercurial, perhaps unknowable. In fact, we are fortunate in that there exists a highly developed field of oriental studies, which has explored the Middle East for a long time and with considerable success. Not only do we know much about the worlds of Islam and its many peoples, but actually there exists among Orientalists perhaps greater consensus on many important aspects of that civilization, its life and politics, than in other non-Western fields of study.

Now, the bad news. This asset goes to waste, for our public discourse and policy on the Middle East ignores it almost

____________________
Dr. AlRoy is professor of political science at Hunter College.

-67-

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