The Great Unraveling: The Remaking of the Middle East Examines the Malady of the Middle East

Tuesday, May 6, 2014
In Retreat: America's Withdrawal from the Middle East
In Retreat: America's Withdrawal from the Middle East

The Hoover Institution Press released The Great Unraveling: The Remaking of the Middle East, a series of essays by several distinguished Middle Eastern experts, all of whom are members of the Hoover Institution’s Herbert and Jane Dwight Working Group on Islamism and the International Order. This thoughtful work grapples with the erosion of the old Middle Eastern order of states and the sweeping changes that have hit the Greater Middle East in the past few years.

“The Middle East is being unmade and remade.  The autocracies that gave so many of these states the appearance of stability are gone, their dreaded rulers dispatched to prison or exile or cut down by young people who had yearned for the end of despotisms,” stated Fouad Ajami, Hoover senior fellow and cochair of the Working Group on Islamism and the International Order.  “We asked a number of authors to give this spectacle of disorder their best try, and we believe this essay series gets us close to the sources of the malady.

There are six essays in the series.  In addition to the group’s cochair, Fouad Ajami, the authors include Charles Hill, distinguished fellow in Grand Strategy and senior lecturer at Yale; Itamar Rabinovich, former ambassador of Israel to the United States; Russell Berman, Stanford professor; Lee Smith, staff writer for the Weekly Standard; and Sam Tadros, research fellow at the Hudson Institute.

Some highlights from the series include

The Struggle for Mastery in the Fertile Crescent by Fouad Ajami – Ajami analyzes the struggle for influence along the Fertile Crescent among three of the regional powers who have stepped into the vacuum left by the West: Iran, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia.  This essay examines each country’s prospects for supremacy and asserts that Iran must be reckoned to be the strongest.

The Weaver’s Lost Art by Charles Hill – Hill looks beneath the surface of strategy, policy, and daily operations, using the analogy of weaving to examine the United States’ historical responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. He illuminates why we must marshal all possible elements and supporters to defeat the enemies of order in the Middle East.

In Retreat: America’s Withdrawal from the Middle East by Russell Berman – Berman explains how the United States’ withdrawal from the Middle East could have long-term consequences, as other states come forward to fill the gap.  This essay details how the retreat began and how the reduction of the United States commitment has, in turn, set off a wave of repercussions.

Israel and the Arab Turmoil by Itamar Rabinovich – Rabinovich examines how Israel is facing a new and changing regional order in the Middle East, from the ramifications of the Arab Spring to a receding US role and beyond.  The author looks specifically at Israel’s evolving relationships with Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and the Palestinians.

The Consequences of Syria by Lee Smith – Smith analyzes the current US administration’s stance on Syria, questioning whether it will build the foundations of a new Middle East or usher in an era of instability that will affect the entire world. Smith warns that current policies may lead to more violence, emboldened adversaries, and Iran on the verge of a nuclear breakout.

Reflections on the Revolution in Egypt by Samuel Tadros – Tadros offers insights on Egypt’s failed revolution, taking a journey back in time to search for the root causes of its failure.  He raises long unanswered questions about Egypt’s revolutionaries: who were they, what their ideology was, and what are their demands and aspirations for a new Egypt.

The series will be published throughout the summer of 2014, with Israel and the Arab Turmoil and In Retreat: America’s Withdrawal from the Middle East available as of May 1, 2014.

For more information on this series, visit  For more information on the Hoover Institution, visit or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Scribd (keyword: Hoover Institution).