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Western Culture And Policies That Have Shaped The Modern World.

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Western culture and policies have shaped the modern world, especially the Middle East, in many ways. Since the sixteenth century, the nations of Western civilization have been the driving wheels of modernization. Globalization is simply the spread of modern institutions and ideas from one high power to the wider world. Technological innovation and economic growth along with such concepts as democracy, individualism, and the rule of law administered by an impartial judiciary, set Western societies above and beyond any possible rival. Other cultures looked to the West as a model, a threat, or some combination of both. One country that was most successful in their confrontations with Western states was Japan, who incorporated Western technologies and institutional arrangements into their own systems. This idea of mimicking the Western system can be used by other regions, such as the Middle East, to provide a foundation of government.

Iraq's invasion of Kuwait called forth the "lessons of Munich" against the uselessness of comforting hostility. The Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment, once treated as transnational phenomena that shaped the modern world, are now deconstructed and denounced as myths invented to serve Western imperialism. These conflicts come about from two key factors, the dimension of ethnic identity and the dimension of cultural/religious identity. Ethnic identity can be defined as a group of people conceiving themselves as a race, community or society. Generally, ethnicity is based on a vertical emotional border. This emotional boundary can create a barrier against co-existence and give rise to potential conflict with other ethnic groups all the time. This general definition could be applied to any kind of group involved in an ethno-national conflict, whether in Iraq, the Middle East, or Southeast Asia. Culture and religion are combined here because the culture or identity of any society is not the result of a social virginity being born from nowhere. Rather, the cultural identity of a society expresses its fundamental self-understanding that constitutes the values of the people. In establishing religions people were looking for constitutional values. Religion became a cultural value to certain societies. For example, look at the Western political culture. It has been shaped by Greek philosophy, Roman law, feudalism, and the Renaissance. Western culture also has been shaped a great deal by Christianity, Judaism and by Islam.

Much of the Middle East experienced centuries of Ottoman rule, generally from the mid-sixteenth century up until the declining years of the nineteenth century. The Ottomans' hold on the Middle East was often tenuous and frequently interrupted. Perhaps the biggest relic of British rule was the institution of monarchy, which they secured in almost all the lands they ruled. Nevertheless, the powerful forces uniting the Middle East have at times also been sources of division and conflict. In many historical episodes subtle differences in dialect or ethnic identity have served as powerful catalysts for the communication of national or sub national loyalties.

The Middle East is far from monumental and homogenous. Its differences have been a source of both strength and inspiration. The most visible, most pervasive, and the least recognized aspects of Western influence are in the realm of material things. This involves the infrastructure, amenities, and services of the modern state and city. There was clearly no desire to reverse or even deflect the processes of modernization. Nor indeed were such things as airplanes and cars, telephones and televisions, tanks and artillery, seen as Western or as related to the Western philosophies that preceded and facilitated their invention.

Perhaps the most powerful and persistent of Western political ideas in the region has been that of revolution. The first self-styled revolutions in the Middle East were those of the constitutionalists in Iran and the Young Turks in the Ottoman Empire. In early days, this was sometimes accomplished by a nationalist struggle against foreign overlords. Later it was usually achieved by military officers deposing the rulers in whose armies they served. All of these laid claims to the title "revolutionary," which in time became the most widely accepted claim to legitimacy in government in the Middle East. The Islamic revolution in Iran was the first truly modern revolution of the electronic age. While its symbols and allusions were Islamic rather than European, its models of style and methods were often more European than Islamic. Iranian people suffered greatly from foreign wars, internal strife and repression, and a steadily worsening economic crisis. As in other revolutions, there was recurring conflict between rival factions, sometimes described as extremists and moderates.

Islamic revolutionary movements derived from the revolution in Iran developed in other Muslim countries where they became serious and sometimes successful contenders for power. Like the British and the French before them, the Soviets and the United States in their rivalry in the Middle East tried to create societies and polities in their own image. Neither task was easy. The sponsorship of strict government presented no problem, but it was quite another matter to create a Marxist, socialist regime in an Islamic country. The task of creating a liberal democracy was extremely difficult. But if democracies are more difficult to create, they are also more difficult to destroy. This in the long term worked to the advantage to the democracies, both inside and outside the region, and to the disadvantage of their authoritarian enemies.

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