ISLAM IN THE MODERN WORLD by Elie Kedourie

ISLAM IN THE MODERN WORLD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this companion volume to his Chatham House Version (1970) and Arabic Political Memoirs (1974), Professor Kedourie (London School of Economics) has added some new studies (on Palestine and Saudi Arabia) to this collection of recently published articles on Middle East history, diplomacy, and politics. The spread of nationalist and radical styles of politics in the Arab world, he avers, was a legacy of Western-imposed ""reform"": but enlightened despotism, not 19th-century liberalism, replaced the pasha; and centralization and bureaucracy squelched all hope that even the slave could become Sultan. Add to the mix a reaction--the amalgam of Arab nationalism with Islam--and the stresses on a volatile region already tackling the pressures of modernity will continue to confound the West: e.g., Colonel Qadhafi's flirtation with the Soviets. Moreover: in Lebanon, the Major Powers created ""the infernal machine that exploded""; in Palestine, British appeasement and weakness allowed foreign interference with British policy (e.g., the Arab states' intervention in the Palestine Arabs' strike of 1936), and the Foreign Office erred again in wooing Ibn Saud (before oil) as the bulwark against envisioned Italian and German advances during World War II. And, finally, there was Suez--the coup de grace to European influence in the Middle East. Finally, Kedourie charges, US anti-imperialism and mismanagement--plus British and French irresolution--enabled Nasser to tyrannize the Middle East; lost the French Algeria; paved the way for de Gaulle and the undermining of NATO; lost the British the Persian Gulf; led to a coup in Iraq (1958) and a close call in Lebanon; and invited Soviet penetration into the region. Kedourie's advice to the US is to act like a Superpower: protect one's own interests and be agile in formulating policy in an area where ""each morning one is dealt a new hand, and yesterday's match offers little guidance in today's challenge."" Whether or not one agrees with him, Kedourie's literary finesse and meticulous archival sleuthing--all to illustrate the thrusts, feints, and ""somersaults"" of diplomacy--make his work compelling reading.

Pub Date: May 15th, 1981
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston