IS A bloc of Middle East states now in process of being forged out of hitherto incompatible elements? Such a regional unit would correspond roughly to the mythical state which Captain Mahan in 1900 predicted might arise in lands astride the communications from Europe to the farther Orient. The possibility seemed remote so long as Islam was the only cement uniting the peoples involved. But in the last decade the replacement of Islam by the spirit of regional brotherhood, based on new and vigorous nationalisms, gives historical conjectures a fresh undertone of probability. The speed with which Afghanistan recently joined Turkey and Soviet Russia in following Persia into the League of Nations is but one indication of the intense desire to put into practice the coöperation called for in the closely-knit treaty system of the region. The League itself seems to be drifting toward an international balance of power, based on regional state-groups. If that is so, it is not unlikely that such a bloc of Middle East states would use Geneva as a first line of defense against a resumption of the old processes of Western encroachment.
Of the three states involved, Persia had sunk the lowest in comparison with its former power and prestige, and has made the most unexpected comeback. And though it is less modernized than Turkey, it is the strategic center and holds the key to the regional politics. Like the fabled Phoenix of her deserts, Persia has known death but never actual extinction in three thousand years of history. After each epoch of disaster she has risen from her own ashes. What is most striking in her rebirth in the last decade is not the new formula by which it has been achieved but the suddenness with which it has occurred, the rapidity with which the process of slow atrophy has been reversed.
A century ago Persia enjoyed a sort of self-sufficiency, producing her own food, satisfied with her artistic handicraft wares. Her folly in
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