Is The Cold War finally coming to an end, as some would have us believe? And if so, what does this mean for the Middle East? These are questions that will be with us for some time. They do not lend themselves to clear answers, but they nonetheless demand our attention.
For students of the contemporary Middle East, these questions pose special analytical problems—how can one best assess the relationship between the area that we study and the broader currents of international politics? Middle East specialists are rightly skeptical of efforts to analyze their region of study from a “globalist” perspective. Most of us have little patience with theorizing that fails to take into account that which is distinctive in the cultures, politics, and societies of the Middle East. We have even less use for crude empiricism which tries to reduce the complexities of the Middle East to quantifiable events or entries in simplistic classification schemes.