Rethinking the Middle East runs counter to the received wisdom in modern Middle East studies. This discipline has been dominated by what may be termed a "culture of victimization"; it views the local populations of the Middle East Arabs in particular as the hapless victims of alien encroachment, and blames the region's endemic malaise on Western political and cultural imperialism. The author contends that the influence of the Great Powers has not been the primary force behind the region's political development, nor the main cause of its famous volatility. He argues that the main impetus has been provided by regional factors; and that even at their weakest point in modern history - during the final stages of the Ottoman Empire - the peoples in the Middle East have played an active role in the restructuring of their region.

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