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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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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: 0.5 x 7.2 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #636,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Martin Sieff is the country's foremost authority on the Cycles of Change. Over the past quarter century, he has developed an unparalleled record in covering and predicting the main economic and security developments of the world.

During his 24 years as a senior foreign correspondent for The Washington Times and United Press International, Sieff reported from more than 70 nations and covered 12 wars. He has specialized in U.S. and global strategic and economic issues and predicted:

*The Collapse of Communism and the disintegration of the Soviet Union
*The disintegration of Yugoslavia and the outbreak of multiple civil wars on its territories
*The collapse of the U.S. housing bubble
*The new 21st century Russian-Chinese strategic alliance against the United States
*The September 2008 Wall Street meltdown.
*The accelerating disintegration of the US industrial and manufacturing sectors.
*The escalating guerrilla war against US forces in Iraq following the apparently rapid 2003 conquest of the country and the inability of US forces and strategists to eradicate it.
*The failure of US nation building in Afghanistan.
*Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Iraq.
*In 2003, that Saudi security forces would successfully eradicate al-Qaeda in its unsuccessful attempts to destabilize the country.
*In 2004-2005, the success of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's security barrier/fence in shutting down the Second Palestinian Intifada.
*In 2004-2005, that the issue of US border security with Mexico and the strengthening of border defenses would become a major and continuing political issue in the Southwest United States.
*Russia's August 2008 invasion of Georgia.
*In 2008, Sieff predicted President Obama's victory margin in the presidential election to within 1 percent. He also predicted the Democratic victory margin in the House of Representatives to within 5 seats and in the Senate to within 2 seats.
*In 2006 he predicted that the Republicans would lose control of both houses of Congress.

Martin Sieff is the author of
*Cycles of Change: The Three Great Cycles of American History & the Coming Crises That Will Lead to the Fourth (2014), available through Amazon.com.
*Gathering Storm: The Seventh Era of American History, and the Coming Crises That Will Lead to It (2014), available through Amazon.com.
*That Should Still Be Us: How Thomas Friedman's Flat World Myths Are Keeping Us Flat on Our Backs (Wiley and Co., 2012) - in which he presented a realistic, detailed strategy for restoring U.S. industry and manufacturing, and restoring U.S. domestic energy production.
*Shifting Superpowers: The New and Emerging Relationships between the United States, China and India (Cato Institute, 2010) and
*The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East (Regnery, 2008).

Sieff served as Chief Foreign Correspondent of The Washington Times and as Chief News Analyst and Managing Editor, International Affairs for United Press International. He has received three Pulitzer Prize nominations for International Reporting.

Sieff also served as UPI's National Security and Defense Industry Editor. For five years he produced the weekly BMD (Ballistic Missile Defense) Watch and BMD Analysis columns for UPI, the most comprehensive news and analytical coverage of ballistic missile threats and defense to appear regularly throughout that time in the mainstream US media. He was also UPI's chief analyst on the Iraq War from 2003 through 2007.

From 2009 to 2014, Sieff was Chief Analyst at The Globalist, & Senior Fellow of the Globalist Foundation. Since 2010, he has been a correspondent for The Asia Pacific Defense Forum. Sieff is also a Senior Fellow at The American University in Moscow.

Sieff has travelled extensively throughout the former Soviet republics and has reported extensively on the nations of Central Asia. He has reported extensively on the developing energy economies of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. He is an expert on Chinese and Russian policies and on the security dynamics of Northeast and Southeast Asia.

Sieff is also an expert on Russia and the Soviet Union and has reported from and traveled extensively in the most remote reaches of those countries including Tatarstan, the Caucasus, the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Siberia, Lake Baikal, the Chinese border region along the Amur river, the sensitive Kaliningrad military district, the middle Volga region and many other areas. He is one of the leading journalistic authorities in the United States on Russian military and nuclear capabilities.

From 1994 to 1999, Sieff was Chief Foreign Correspondent for The Washington Times. He was the Times' Soviet and East European correspondent covering the collapse of communism for six years from 1986 to 1992 and from 1992 to 1994 was its State Department correspondent.

Sieff has covered conflicts in his native Northern Ireland, Israel and the West Bank, Iraq, Indonesia, Bosnia, Russia, Poland, Azerbaijan, Georgia and the Baltic states. He has reported on economic trends in China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Germany, Russia, Poland, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, and Turkey.

Sieff led UPI's political coverage of the 2000, 2004 and 2008 presidential election campaigns. From May 2005 to July 2007 he was UPI's National Security Correspondent and from October 2003 to May 2005 he was its Chief Political Correspondent. From May 1999 to January 2000 he was UPI's national security editor; from January to March 2000, its Assistant Managing Editor for International Affairs, and from March 2000 to March 2001 its Managing Editor, International Affairs and from March 2001 to October 2003 its Chief News Analyst, a position he took up again from 2006 to 2009.

From 1994 to 1999, Sieff was Chief Foreign Correspondent for The Washington Times. He was the Times' Soviet and East European correspondent covering the collapse of communism for six years from 1986 to 1992 and from 1992 to 1994 was its State Department correspondent. He received his first two Pulitzer Prize nominations for international reporting for covering the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe (1989) and in the Soviet Union (1990) and his third one for covering NATO expansion into Eastern Europe and its consequences (1997).

Sieff's articles have also appeared in Salon.com, The Daily Beast, The American Conservative, National Review, Fox News, Human Events, Commentary, Pravda, Russia Insider, the Jerusalem Report, Antiwar.com and many other newspapers and journals.

He has appeared on Fox News, National Public Radio, the British Broadcasting Corporation, Russia Today, Russian National Television's Channel 1, Radio Telefis Eireann in Ireland, Al-Arabiya, National Television News in Kazakhstan and many other broadcasting stations and networks in the United States and around the world.

Sieff has given lecture courses on Middle East history, American political history and the rise and fall of international broadcast news in the United States

Sieff received his B.A. and M.A in modern history from Oxford University in 1972 and 1976. He did graduate work in Middle East studies at the London School of Economics from 1973 to 1976. He is a U.S. and Irish citizen.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 58 people found the following review helpful By David 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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