HIS342: Contemporary Middle East History
Mid-Term Essay #1
The Ottoman and Persian empires faced formidable challenges attempting to maintain military and economic parity with the West throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. The Middle Eastern empires attempted to meet these challenges through the implementation of defensive developmentalism policies, with better-equipped armies, bureaucratic government and involvement in key markets. To compete with European empires, Middle Eastern empires attempted to increase their military strength, which resulted initially in more effective control of their territories. The empires then undertook policies to centralize and expand their authority, institutionalizing stable bureaucracies (Gelvin, 2005. p.74). The empires utilized various economic avenues to support their modernized armies and growing bureaucracies required to support their centralized governments. The implementation of defensive development policies brought about the introduction of revised land ownership policies, agricultural monopolies and new transportation infrastructures (Gelvin, 2005. p.75). Although attempted with good intentions, these programs too often ended in failure, bringing about substantial economic and political losses. The economic reserves of the Middle Eastern empires could not meet the financial obligations of their developmental programs, which along with unforeseen losses in the market value of critical cash crops, resulted in substantial debt to European lenders. The financial debt resulted in treaties, often with direct oversight of key markets by Europeans, which further eroded Middle Eastern power and world influence (Khater, 2004, p. 57). Middle Eastern empires attempted to counter the threat of Western empires by adopting defensive developmentalism policies, with policies modeled after Western empires. These policies contributed to the continual peripheralization of Middle East within the world economy and a reduced its influence in world affairs.
Mid-Term Essay #2
The reactions of Middle Eastern people to Western incursion ranged from trying to understand and adopt the ways of the Western world, to the complete rejection of Western influences and the embracement of Islamic fundamentalism. This polarity of opinion led to the formation of numerous intellectual, political and cultural movements. Those who wanted to adopt many of the Western practices made a significant impact upon the Middle East. Their goal was to enlighten the Middle East by incorporating the best of Western customs, bringing their societies inline with the rest of the “modern” world. State sponsored schools, with standardized curriculum, were argued as necessary to provide the background in science and technology believed to be the hallmarks of intellectual progress (Gelvin, 2005. p.74). Constitutional governments were established, mimicking the parliamentary systems in Western empires. Cultural evolutionist espoused the adaptation of Western customs and norms in an attempt to maintain parity with the West (Khater, 2004, p. 74 and 91) Islamic fundamentalism occurred as responses to the “modernist”, which were viewed by some as morally weakened by the liberal influences of the West. The fundamentalist movement identified with the glory of their Arab past, espousing that the only way to return to that glory was to closely follow the original teachings and doctrines of Islamic religion. They viewed secularism as a threat to Islamic society and their cultural identity. The fundamentalistic views of Muhammad ibn ‘Bbd Al-Wahhab are indicative of this movement (Gelvin, 2005. p.126). In between these two polarized views were movements that embraced some aspects of the Western world, framing them within an Islamic perspective. The Islamic Osmanlilik of the late 19th century was representative of this movement within Islamic history (Gelvin, 2005. p.133). By...
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