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The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East (Politically Incorrect Guides) Paperback – January 28, 2008

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Product Details

  • Series: Politically Incorrect Guides
  • Paperback: 230 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing (January 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596980516
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596980518
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 7.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #524,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Why most of what you think you know about the Middle East is wrong

The Middle East: a region that's almost never off the front pages, yet one most Americans know little about. The mainstream media and Ivy League academics only make matters worse by casting everything in the usual politically correct mold: Arab terrorists are just desperate freedom fighters, and the region's one free democracy--Israel--is the oppressor, not least because of its alliance with America. And if Islamic extremism is a problem, the establishment tells us, it's only because it's rooted in that source of all evils: religion. A different strain of political correctness has seeped into some minds on the right--most notably the Bush administration, which, so ready to buy into the egalitarian myths we are all taught, believed that Western-style democracy could flourish anywhere. Now, in The Politically Incorrect Guide(tm) to the Middle East, veteran Middle East correspondent Martin Sieff puts the lie to all these myths and clichés, giving you everything you need to know about the region to understand its past, its present, and its possible future. In The Politically Incorrect Guide(tm) to the Middle East, you'll learn:

* How, for three decades, the British supported parliamentary democracy throughout the Middle East, but it didn't work
* Why Britain's post-World War I Middle East policy was a comedy of errors and incompetence that soon escalated into tragedy
* Where America went wrong in Iraq: how U.S. policymakers vastly underestimated the intransigent, unsophisticated, and anti-Western nature of its competing communities
* How Saudi Arabia's security forces defeated al Qaeda--and why you never heard about it
* Why we'll miss the Arab dictators when they're gone
* How the Muslim nations of the Middle East took an irrevocable turn toward radical Islam not in the tenth century or after the fall of Baghdad to the Mongols in the thirteenth century--but in 1979
* How the Arab states openly declared their determination to prevent a Jewish state from being born in 1947--twenty years before the West Bank and Gaza were first occupied

The Politically Incorrect Guide(tm) to the Middle East is a bold first step toward facing the hard truths necessary for peace.

From the Back Cover

The Harsh Truth about the World's Roughest Neighborhood

Combine religion, race, the Cold War, America's enemies, and a history of colonialism, and you've got a breeding ground for the most virulent strains of politically correct mythology, distortions, and cover-ups. Welcome to the Middle East. In the Middle East, the cost of PC distortions can be measured in the lives of American soldiers, Iraqi civilians, Iranian dissidents, and Israeli Jews. Faith in the magic of democracy, a blind eye to the truth about Islam, and a fruitless search for terrorism's "root causes"--all of these PC delusions weaken America and draw out the violence there. The Politically Incorrect Guide(tm) to the Middle East is not an academic exercise; it is crucial reading for understanding the most important conflicts of our time.

The Middle East is always in the news, but have you heard:

* The Middle East was peaceful for centuries, thanks to the Turkish Ottoman Empire.
* There has never been separation of mosque and state: Islamic governments control religious leaders or are controlled by them.
* Ariel Sharon's security fence in Israel--a monument to political incorrectness--has saved hundreds of Palestinian and Israeli lives.
* Jimmy Carter's do-gooder meddling in the Middle East is to blame for Iran's Islamic Revolution.
* Oppressive Arab regimes like Saddam Hussein's took their guidance from leftist ideologues.
* Israel achieved peace with Egypt and Jordan through military might and a willingness to use it.
* Israel's greatest generals based their battle plans on the Old Testament.

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Customer Reviews

Again, this is a well known fact that Sieff does not even attempt to address.
David C. Read
"The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East" especially deserves to be read by anyone responsible for dealing with such conflicts.
Midwest Book Review
This is good book -- easily and quickly read -- not a page turner but very close.
Royce Callaway

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 53 people found the following review helpful By David C. Read VINE VOICE on December 1, 2008
Format: Audio CD
I have to give this review a couple of stars because Sieff gets two huge issues right. First, he is correct that Bush's Natan Sharansky-inspired policy of promoting democracy in the Muslim world is wrong-headed and potentially very dangerous. History has shown that Muslim voters are liable to elect Islamist governments (Hamas), whereas the autocrats that the Muslim world typically produces are far more likely to brutally suppress Islamism than to be Islamists themselves. Sieff is also absolutely right in urging that U.S. presidents not exhaust themselves trying to obtain the unobtainable--peace between Israel and the Arabs. Sieff says: manage and ameliorate the conflict as best you can, and good fences make good neighbors.

However, I can't give this book more than two stars because Sieff's main thesis--that the Ottoman Empire was the Middle East's good old days, and that Saudi Arabia can function as a sort of Ottoman Empire in the modern Middle East--is comprehensively, ludicrously wrong.

Sieff argues that the Ottomans provided "stability" without defining what that means. I would define stability as a Middle East that doesn't threaten the Western world and pull Western powers into its conflicts. By this definition, the Ottomans provided anything and everything but stability. Right from the beginning, they threatened the Christian West, conquering Greece, the cradle of Western Civilization, and in 1453 finally snuffing out the Eastern Roman Empire. They invaded Southeastern Europe, persecuting the Christian peoples living there; they staffed their Janissary Corps with enslaved, Christian children kidnapped from Europe and forcibly converted to Islam.
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44 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Jill Malter on January 17, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book warns us that the Middle East is an area "where political correctness can kill." And I think Martin Sieff has done a good job in telling us something about the region.

The first chapter gives us an introduction to the Ottoman Empire. Next is a chapter on the Arab-Israeli conflict, which exposes the myth that the Holy land was promised to both the Jews and the Arabs. This chapter has plenty of interesting material, but I wish it had said spent some time on the infamous British White Paper of 1939.

Next is a good chapter about Iraq which summarizes some of the mistakes we've made in our war there. And following it is a chapter on radical Islam, which we see is something new, not a return to old ideas.

Chapter Five is about Iran. Sieff criticizes President Carter's handling of American policy involving Iran. While I think this criticism is deserved, it's not clear how much better things would have been had someone else been President. The next chapter is about the Arab wars against Israel. There are plenty of interesting tidbits here, as well as some rather interesting opinions about some of the leaders.

Chapter Seven asserts that the Saudis are part of the solution, not the problem. I'm not so sure that I would agree with such a characterization. The following chapter is about Middle East wars and peace from 1975 to 2007. Carter's role in bringing about peace between Israel and Egypt is discussed, again from a "politically incorrect" perspective. And there is a rather uneven discussion of the Oslo agreements and the Camp David negotiations of 2000, which we see were doomed from the start. But I think Sieff fails to show the extent to which the Arab side was uninterested in long-term peaceful coexistence with Israel.
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40 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Royce Callaway on January 22, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book and certainly provides some controversial (aka politically incorrect) views of Islam, the Palestinians, Israel, and how we got to where we are. Martin Sieff shows how inch by inch and small decision by small decision we have arived with a worldwide conflict with Islamofascim starting with that arrogant aristocrat Winston Churchill and continuing with each US administration since 1917.

Sieff points out that our politically correct views have and continue to cost the lives of American soldiers, Iranian dissidents, Iraqi's, and Israeli Jews. He points out that the ridiculous and misguided attempts by the US and the western democracies to establish democratic governments in the middle east was not only doomed to failure from the outset but it is making matters worse as we pursue this bankrupt policy. The reality is that the Islamic Middle East is a tribal culture that is opposed to any central authority unless it is imposed with a mailed fist. Blood feuds are common and the battles between Sunni and Shia goes back a thousand years and is not likely to end anytime soon.

Perhaps the best chapter that puts the whole thing into historical perspective is the chapter on the Ottoman Empire. Sieff points out that the Ottomans ruled the region for more than 400 years and during that period ignorance, apathy, and squalor were the pillars of the Empire but the result was peace and tranquility. It was only when the trendy western democracies interjected their ideas of democracy, socialism, and representative government that things went to Hell in a handbasket.

Another fascinating point addressed in the book is that the Saudi's are not the problem but have in fact conducted a sustained and largely effective war against Islamofascism.
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