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The West and the Middle East

Bernard Lewis
Foreign Affairs
Vol. 76, No. 1 (Jan. - Feb., 1997), pp. 114-130
DOI: 10.2307/20047913
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20047913
Page Count: 17
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The West and the Middle East
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Abstract

The Middle East has probably been debating Western modernity longer than anywhere else, as many try to become modern without becoming Western. Since the sixteenth century, when British ships and trading companies sailed in, the region has become all too aware of Western superiority on the battlefield and in the marketplace. Middle Easterners have busily adopted or rejected Western innovations, trying to catch up or blaming the West for their predicament, or both. Meanwhile, their glorious history and their forebears' contribution to Western civilization is often buried and forgotten. In every age the dominant civilization defines modernity and claims the credit. Once it was Islam, now it is the West.

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