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The middle of nowhere

Western analysts are forever bleating about the strategic importance of the middle east. But despite its oil, this backward region is less relevant than ever, and it would be better for everyone if the rest of the world learned to ignore it

By Edward Luttwak   May 2007

Why are middle east experts so unfailingly wrong? The lesson of history is that men never learn from history, but middle east experts, like the rest of us, should at least learn from their past mistakes. Instead, they just keep repeating them.

The first mistake is “five minutes to midnight” catastrophism. The late King Hussein of Jordan was the undisputed master of this genre. Wearing his gravest aspect, he would warn us that with patience finally exhausted the Arab-Israeli conflict was about to explode, that all past conflicts would be dwarfed by what was about to happen unless, unless… And…

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