A Middle East Primed for New Thinking: Insights and Policy Options From the Ancient World

A Middle East Primed for New Thinking: Insights and Policy Options From the Ancient World
A Middle East Primed for New Thinking: Insights and Policy Options From the Ancient World
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Table of Contents

Introduction: A Summons to New Thinking  3

Ancient History’s Persistence  5

Iraq: Catalyst for New Thinking  7

Ancient History as Analytic Outlier 11 

And Analytic Force Multiplier  12

Chapter 1: Analysis Entering Uncharted Waters 15

Thinking Beyond Our Pillars of Hercules  17

Policy and Intelligence Skepticism About Ancient History’s Relevance 18

The Encumbrance of Cold War Analytic Assumptions  20

Bellwethers for New Thinking about the Middle East 23

We Are No Longer “in Kansas”  25

Chapter 2: Ancient Spaces and Memories Endure 29

Ancient Geography Echoes in Turkey  35

Egypt’s Ancient Nile Identity Persists  36

Iran’s Historic Memory on Display  38

Revisiting Persia and the Ancient Greeks 39

Ancient Perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict  41

Strategic Uses of Early History Globally 42

The Analytic Gains of Examining Ancient Space and Identity  43

Chapter 3: Harnessing Ancient Politics 47

Warning Signs of Political Failure  50

Strains in the Saudi Social Compact 52

Governance Challenges in The Non-Arab World  54

The Political and Analytic Challenges Ahead 56

Standard Analytic Approaches Proving Insufficient 56

Expanding Our Analysis with an Ancient Lens 58

Ancient Greece’s Analytic Insight #1: Homer and a Long View on Arab Politics 59

Ancient Greece’s Analytic Insight #2: Building Citizenship Over Tribe and Clan 60

Ancient Greece’s Analytic Insight #3: The Primacy of Law in Political Order 61

Defining the Physical Boundaries of Political Community  64

Chapter 4: Ancient Religion’s Persistence 67

Religion’s Awkward Place in Analysis of the Middle East  72

Islam’s Persistent Claims on the Public Sphere  73 

But Who Will Speak for Islam? 75

Ancient Patterns of Comingled Religion and Governance  76

Religious Thought Can be Cosmopolitan 78

Policy Implications  82

Chapter 5: The Emerging Middle East State System 85

The Fading Twentieth Century State System 88

Revisiting the Breakup of Ancient Rome  89

Rome’s Threefold Breakup Reverberates Today  90

Reconsidering the Regional State System  92

Ancient Unipolar and Multipolar Regional Systems 94

The Ancient Pattern of Interventions from the Steppe 96

Ancient Patterns of Collaboration in the Middle East  99

Conclusion: Ancient Paths Toward a New Middle East 105

Policy Implications .108

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Central Intelligence Agency, Center for the Study of Intelligence
  • Gilmour, Andrew Skitt
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  • Middle East
  • Ancient History
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