Discuss Bernard Lewis's prognosis concerning the future of the Arab countries

Essay by tonykarmineCollege, UndergraduateA+, July 2002

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Lewis's prognosis of the future of Arab countries is written from an entirely Western point of view. It is much easier for someone from the outside to look at a situation and give their mathematical, analytical description of it, complete with clear solutions to their problems. In this case, Lewis decides that there are "two competing diagnosis' of the ills of the region on offer, each with its own prescription for a cure." He believes that the conflict between Westernization/modernization and that of traditionalism are what is tearing the region apart. As we all know, few things, if anything in life are as clear-cut as Lewis would have us believe.

There is no doubt that European and later American imperialism have brought disorder (as they have in most parts of the world) to the region. There was, however, turbulence in the region long before Westerners began carving up the region for themselves.

For most of Arab history, there has been some power, whether foreign or domestic, that has oppressed the region. Even in the days of the Umayyad Caliphate, other Arabs that were conquered were forced to pay tribute.

Lewis is also too broad in his associations of Arab countries. He would have us believe that all people in all Arab countries want and need the same thing. In modern times, the closest thing to a multinational Arab kingdom ended with the death of Nasser in 1970.

Lewis also exaggerates the actual impact of the west on the life of an average person in an Arab country. Outside of the major cities, the lifestyle of most Arabs has not changed that significantly. It is not as if there is a Wal-Mart in every town in the Middle East. The impact of the West has been to a much greater...