Friday, June 08, 2007

Why the Middle East does not matter

I am just catching up with some of my reading from last month, so I have only just read Edward Luttwak's highly interesting article, "Why the Middle East does not matter" in the British monthly, Prospect.

He says, among other things, that "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....the dead from Jewish-Palestinian fighting amount to fewer than 100,000 - about as many as are killed in (a single season during the ongoing genocidal massacres in Darfur). Strategically, the Arab-Israeli conflict has been almost irrelevant since the end of the cold war...the relationship between turmoil in the middle east and oil prices is far from straightforward....And global dependence on middle eastern oil is declining: today the region produces under 30 per cent of the world's crude oil, compared to almost 40 per cent in 1974-75....Yes, it would be nice if Israelis and Palestinians could settle their differences, but it would do little or nothing to calm the other conflicts in the middle east from Algeria to Iraq...or to stop Muslim-Hindu violence in Kashmir, Muslim-Christian violence in Indonesia and the Philippines, Muslim-Buddhist violence in Thailand, Muslim-animist violence in Sudan, Muslim-Igbo violence in Nigeria, Muslim-Muscovite violence in Chechnya, or the different varieties of inter-Muslim violence between traditionalists and Islamists, and between Sunnis and Shias, nor would it assuage the perfectly understandble hostility of convinced Islamists towards the transgressive west that relentlessly invades their minds and sometimes their countries".

I should check his statistics when I have a moment: I suspect that the decline of the middle east's share of global oil production from 40% to 30% has been primarily because of the situation in Iraq.....

However, in other ways, the article is thought-provoking. Sphere: Related Content

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