The Hollow Order
Rebuilding an International System That Works
THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
IN the coming decade, the countries of the Middle East and North Africa will unquestionably remain the scene of turmoil, with an ebb and flow of crises and with strained relations with the outside world. However, we should not allow the staccato of crises to obscure the major structural changes which will profoundly alter the area and our relationships with it. Revolution from below, political upheaval and violence are common enough. Occasionally outsiders forget that these are not linked solely to Soviet intrusion but have their roots in the nineteenth century, in the great trauma associated with "the impact of the West." Change has been speeded by the cold war and the willingness of both the Soviet Union and the United States to provide the means. But, domestically, the revolution is fostered, indeed often more effectively fostered, by régimes which are politically conservative than by those which think of themselves as socialist or revolutionary. In the Middle East and North Africa, there is no régime which does not put a considerable part of its effort into creating the potential of revolution. It is universally accepted that no government can survive which does not espouse the cause of modernization.
What are the key aspects of this social transformation?
Probably the most important factor from the point of view of Americans and American interest is that there is a shift in the nature of power in the area as it moves toward the creation of a modern industrial society. Traditionally, power was exercised in very small units and then, often, only sporadically. Large-scale political units were usually theoretical. The reach of government was short. Financially, commercially, politically and even militarily men were largely autarchic and undifferentiated. Traditionally, power derived from ownership of land, leadership of tribesmen, the number of one's kinsmen or membership in brotherhoods.
Today power is derived from machines, impersonal civil and military bureaucracies and propaganda. As the functions of managing power have become more differentiated and as the tools of modern industry and communications have been created, men have achieved the capability to control their natural resources to a larger degree than ever before and to create new forms of power. Industry, financial institutions, the apparatus of public security, the means of communications and transportation facilities have tended to knit together widely scattered and mutually hostile units of the society into cohesive national organizations.
Second, as the nature of power has changed, so has the identity, leadership and outlook of those who wield it. Traditionally, the "power élite" was a relatively static group whose leadership was determined by birth and whose outlook was schooled in elaborate, traditional scholastic patterns of the religious establishment or molded by the self-perpetuating bureaucracy. Today, as real power grows outside the traditional establishment, the identity of the power élite has become obscure socially as it has become precise intellectually; the new power élite is composed of those men who have mastered the technical skills demanded by a modern society. As they have lost respect for the traditional establishment, they have transferred their loyalties to such abstract concepts as the nation-state or ideologies such as Arab socialism or to individuals whose control over mass media and whose words have made them appear to personify these concepts. Educational opportunities have so dramatically altered their outlook as to alienate them from their fathers and to make them demand, now, the fruits of a modern, industrial society. They are, in fact, the "new men" of their societies.
Third, the traditional isolation of Middle Eastern society is dissolving. The barriers that previously separated the Middle East and held it culturally and educationally apart from the rest of the world have been progressively breaking down. While this process can be said to be in its second century in some countries, it is only in the last generation that the balance of power between the traditionalist and the modernizer has swung decisively. Even in the early years after World War II, it was possible for a man to be "modern" and "westernized" in his public life but to retire to a "traditional" and "oriental" life in his own home. Today, there are few in the Middle East whose houses are not penetrated by radio and television. In this process, messages generated by modernization have extended into every bedroom in the Middle East. Consequently, few established norms have gone unchallenged; the inevitability of change and the capability of men to control their future are everywhere accepted.
Fourth, the relationship of society and the state is being altered. Something roughly comparable to the division of Church and State in the West is the division in the Middle East between Society and the State. The function of the state was narrow and involved primarily military defense and occasional provision of public security. Society, which included religious and legal institutions, performed such other functions as the individual demanded. The wise man was one who managed to elude all contact with the state. The wise ruler was one who managed to collect taxes economically.
Today, the state seeks, for the first time, to garner the active support of the ruled. The difference between the "good" and the "bad" ruler is that the one uses the power of the state to modernize, for the ultimate benefit of the people, and the other for personal power alone.
Perhaps more important, the role of the state has been dramatically altered. Today, the state is the entrepreneur which begins new industry; the state is the merchant which negotiates and manages major international trade agreements; the state is the teacher through its radio, television, newspaper, school and military functions; the state is the policeman, the soldier; and, finally, the state is the ideologue which points the way toward a chosen future.
Etatisme is as accepted in what we think of as the conservative states of the Middle East as in the more revolutionary. The traditional weakness of governments in the Middle East did not result, as in Western Europe, in the growth of private activity and resultant private wealth, but in stagnant and poor societies. Today, as society has come to demand more, it is not the individual who has filled the breach; rather, it is the state or foreigners. With oil controlled by foreign companies, there is no scope for an Arab Rockefeller; with arms largely the product of foreign industries and introduced by alien states, there is no place for an Arab Nobel or an Arab DuPont. And with steel and other industries nationalized and largely uneconomic, there is no environment for a Guggenheim, Carnegie or Ford. Consequently, there is no state in the Middle East where the concept of private activity has reached the stage we consider normal in the West. Even in such non-socialist countries as Iran, the public sector is growing not only absolutely but also proportionately larger than the private sector.
Politically, this has prevented the growth of restraints on governments which we associate with middle-class enterprise and gentry self-government. But, while private economic activity and private property have not created effective restraints, the spread of education, the modernization of armies and industrialization have generated new social forces, with new vested interests and ambitions with which governments must contend for the first time. Thus, while the Middle East is not moving toward our notions of representative government and individual rights, it does seem to be moving away from arbitrary dictatorship into what might be termed totalitarian democracy and, in faintly perceivable outline, toward some form of representative government.
Sixth, in traditional Middle Eastern society, the politically active groups have come from a narrow range. The ruling class paid little attention to the middle and lower classes except to collect taxes and rents as agents of the state. As education and commerce became more diffused throughout society in the early years of this century, the traditional upper class gradually had to share some aspects of political life with the traditional middle class. Had this development continued, it is possible that gradually the traditional lower class might have come to participate also. Indeed, the signs pointed in this direction in Egypt after World War II, when the Muslim Brotherhood and the Wafd Party both began to cater to the lower- class vote.
But this development has been overtaken by a new kind of change-the transformation in the nature of power brought about by modernization. In several ways, it has affected all classes. Today, the traditional upper class, whose sole justification for privilege derived from its relationship to the state-not, as in the West, in the creation of new wealth-has been crippled by land reform and nationalization. The traditional middle class has lost much of its newly won and insecure prestige and wealth as its skills were rendered obsolete. And the traditional lower class, while today for the first time in history the recipient of sympathy and some succor, remains politically irrelevant.
If societies were to be modernized, the equipment of modern industrial society had to be created; and to be created and operated, men with the proper skills had also to be produced. A whole new society-with its own lower class of workers, middle class of technicians, foremen and engineers, and upper class of managers and officers-was called into being. It is this group to which prestige and wealth have flowed, for these people are the effective citizens of modern states.
The economic and military effectives-the "new men"-of the Middle Eastern societies now form only a small proportion of the whole. As the vast majority of these are members of the new lower class (factory and construction workers and soldiers), the political effectives form only a minute part of society; but their proportional growth is extraordinary.
Take Egypt as an example of how the process works. Whereas in 1952 Egypt had a new middle class which probably could be counted in the hundreds, by 1975 it will number in the hundreds of thousands; whereas it had a "new man" society of some tens of thousands in 1952, by 1975 this group will probably number close to three million.
Essentially, Egypt has used two methods to accomplish this transition. The first is slow, costly but ultimately the most productive: education. In 1945, approximately 900,000 Egyptians attended school. By 1960, this number had been more than trebled and by 1970 it will reach nearly 6,000,000. Technical education was virtually a product of the 1952 revolution. Prior to that time, very little attention had been given to technical studies in Egyptian universities; by 1961 nearly 40,000 Egyptians had graduated from Egyptian universities in the natural sciences and technology and nearly 120,000 were in vocational training.
The second method of creating "new men" has been compulsory military service. Today, in addition to its roles as "vanguard of the revolution" and defender of the country, the army is a school to impart modern skills, a hospital to cure the ills of society and a source of discipline. Each year approximately 20,000 Egyptians are inducted for three-year terms. Upon their release, they possess rudimentary technical skills, a sense of discipline and a far higher standard of health and motivation than their village cousins. All of these are rare and prized possessions in a backward, poor but modernizing society.
It is this group for which the development plans exist and on whose performance the future of the Middle East depends. One way or another, they will make a profound impact upon Middle Eastern politics.
Seventh, modernization in the form of improved health standards, better food distribution and an end of major epidemics has dramatically increased the size of populations. Several countries of the Middle East will double in population in the next generation. Since cultivated land available has remained virtually static, this has impelled an increasingly large number of people toward the cities' bright lights.
Indeed, it is probable that a mass migration into urban areas would have taken place even without an increase in the size of the population, for the advantages of living in a city are almost incalculable. Only in the city can a man aspire to modern education or hope for curative medical aid. Thus, the cities of the Middle East are ringed by slums, the bidonvilles or sarifas, inhabited by émigré villagers. However much their lives may have changed in other respects, politically these people are still rural. It has not been possible for the established political parties to activate them. Perhaps the nearest to success was the effort of the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, but the Communists failed in Baghdad in 1959. In the 1965 Casablanca riots, the organized political parties scarcely figured. But real urbanization is now taking place-often with the radio and television as the schools-and dissatisfaction is becoming more articulate. The modest rise of Gross National Product is not creating jobs fast enough to maintain even the present unsatisfactory levels. This, over the coming decade, may provide a new layer of society for political action. Ten years from now, true mass political parties may be possible. If so, they will probably not be led by the Western-oriented moderates or, perhaps, even by the "Arab- socialist" technocrats, but by more radical forces.
The central question posed by the modernization process is the means of effecting a new political synthesis. Politics now reaches far deeper into the society of every Middle Eastern and North African state than at any previous time in history, partly because the command of the skills which make modern power are not the monopoly of a small upper class. And, as power has become diffused, those who control it insist upon recognition.
Iraq offers an example of the most dangerous and destructive way a new synthesis can be sought, even if not achieved. From 1950 to 1958, a traditional government effectively and efficiently destroyed the balance of powers it represented. Devoting a large proportion of the massive oil revenues to the Development Board, the Government of Iraq began to create a new Iraq and a new Iraqi alongside of the old Iraq and the traditional Iraqi. By sending thousands of students abroad to study in Western universities, it fostered the growth of a modern component of society, just as by building dams, highways, factories and service facilities it created a modern component of the economy. In fact, it created new forms of power and new men to use them. In this process, obviously, it altered the balance of power among the various sections of the society: the landowner and the tribal chief lost real power relative to the engineer and the entrepreneur. However, the régime refused to allow these "new men" a responsible and satisfying voice in government. The better the government's efforts for the society, the more isolated the government became from society. Ultimately, in 1958, the army, as the representative of the modern component of society, seized power and destroyed the traditional government. In the destruction of the government, however, the revolutionaries also destroyed the accepted concept of legitimacy. Consequently, since 1958 no Iraqi government has been able to drop its guard to get on with the process of development.
Afghanistan may offer-it is too soon to tell-an example of a peaceful transition. There the Western educated "new men" were invited into responsible government positions and encouraged to use their energies peacefully to create a new political synthesis. Under royal patronage and within the framework of the existing political structure, the modernizers are carrying forward tasks of what has been called "nation building" with what appears to be a satisfactory level of participation in responsibility. Traditional forces remain very powerful and the modernizers are remarkably few. It is, consequently, a fragile development and almost entirely dependent upon the good will and farsightedness of the king. To their credit, the modernizers have recognized this situation and have worked within narrow limits and with great care. However, their efforts to modernize and reform gradually have now reached a point of development at which they can attempt to codify their achievement in legal and political institutions. If they are successful, they may have brought off the most impressive democratic achievement in the area in this decade. From our point of view, the key points are that the change has come constructively and has not involved the loss of legitimacy.
One way or another, the shift has already been made in the U.A.R., Iraq, Turkey, Tunisia, Algeria, Syria and Afghanistan. Unless modernization can be stopped-and this does not appear possible-a political transition will have to be made, whether peacefully or violently, in Iran, Libya, Morocco and Saudi Arabia. The issue is probably most urgent in Iran and Morocco. But it may also be posed in Libya and Saudi Arabia before the end of the decade. The significant factor is that all four of these governments support programs in education, industrialization and militarization which increase the likelihood of political change. Ironically, the more efficient and public-spirited the government, the more urgent will become the demands for political change. The meaningful questions are not if but when, not whether but how. If the transformation is violent, on the Iraqi model, there will be dangerous oscillations between political extremes while economic development is postponed. If the change is peaceful, a new impetus will be given to the development of representative government and modernization.
Not only is the power balance among the component parts of each society changing but that between the several states is also shifting. Turkey is probably the sole exception to this shift, for it will remain the most powerful Middle Eastern state into the foreseeable future; but its relative superiority over the other states will be eroded. Among the other states, there are at least three standards other than military strength by which we can measure the changing power balance: change in G.N.P., actual and potential use of resources, and potential and actual population effectiveness.
Iran is the only Middle Eastern state which has the potential to move rapidly toward a Western standard of living. Oil revenues may approach $1 billion by 1975. Iran now has a G.N.P. of $4.7 billion and in 1962 the population was approximately 22.5 million. Relative to the rest of the Middle East, Iran has vast natural resources to be developed, and heavy investment is taking place under the current Third Plan. If Iran can solve its political problems, it should emerge as the richest country in the area.
Among the Arabs, Egypt will have become vastly more powerful at the end of the decade. Egypt's G.N.P. of $3.5 billion is about half that of all the other Arab states together, and is rising at 4 to 5 percent annually. But the G.N.P. figure alone is deceptive, in terms of the projection of power, since such states as Kuwait (G.N.P. $1 billion), Saudi Arabia ($1 billion), Yemen ($0.35 billion) and Lebanon ($0.8 billion) cannot rival Egypt in other respects. Egypt alone among the Arab states has the potential for industrialization on a large scale. Only Iraq, with one-fourth the population of Egypt, can compete in G.N.P. or economic potential and it lags far, and further, behind in other crucial aspects of power.
In the Israeli-Egyptian equation the balance is likely to shift in favor of the Arabs. In 1963, Israel's 2,400,000 people had a G.N.P. of $2.6 billion; population was increasing at 4 percent and G.N.P. at almost 11 percent. From this point of view, Israel was increasing the lead it already had over Egypt in almost every field. Yet there is reason to believe that the long- run trend will be otherwise. This is most clearly revealed in the development of human potential.
As with land, so with people. About 3 percent of the land of Egypt is arable; the rest, in terms of economics, is mostly waste. To the degree that the desert can be reclaimed and put to work, Egypt's wealth increases. Similarly, only about 3 percent of the population is effective in terms of modern industrial power. Graphically put, Egypt is like a ship with 30 men at the oars, only one of whom is really rowing. The rest represent a dead weight in the present-which accounts for a very low G.N.P. per capita-but a future potential.
Today, the effective adult population of the U.A.R. is somewhat less than 1,000,000, whereas Israel's may be estimated at 1,250,000. This shows up clearly in stark military terms: in 48 hours, Israel can field a force of 250,000 and the Egyptians 150-170,000. (For comparison, Turkey, with roughly the same population as Egypt, has a standing army of more than half a million.) But the spread of education, the growth of technical competence, improvement in health and the abundance of human raw material in Egypt will reverse these figures over the coming decade. By 1975, Egypt will have upwards of 3,000,000 "effectives" while Israel will hardly have gained in numbers. Thus, although Israel will maintain a qualitative superiority in most fields, the edge will have narrowed.
The role played by foreign affairs and by foreign powers in the Middle East may also change over the coming decade.
Foreign issues will continue to lure the leaders and the newly educated of the post-revolutionary Arab countries-and this for a variety of reasons including the stature to be gained by active participation in world affairs and emotional identification with the Afro-Asian poor and newly liberated peoples. On the other hand, the violent rejection of foreign participation in their economic life, which was perhaps an inevitable aspect of the coming of independence and the overthrow of traditional governments, may subside. While the traditional form of foreign investment may be difficult or impossible in most areas in the coming decade, new forms of participation in management and marketing may become more possible and attractive. In any event, the present generation of technically qualified young men and women of the Middle East is not so marked with the scars of inferiority as their fathers and, consequently, can approach the world more realistically and coolly.
In the post-revolutionary countries, energies have been released to spread revolution externally and to spread modernization internally. The "post- revolutionary" régimes usually describe themselves as socialist and neutralist. What they seek is the respectability and power of modern industrial societies. But, in putting their emphasis on industrialization they are handicapped by balance-of-payments problems, lack of skills and the weakness of their markets. Distracted by arms races, they depend upon the Soviet bloc for almost all of their military equipment. And seeing the West as a barrier to their original ambitions and in opposition to their emotional commitments, they often support Soviet foreign policies. This is particularly the case when such an arms race as that between Israel and the U.A.R., or Morocco and Algeria, increases the value of Soviet friendship and when such crises as that engendered by the Congo war bring a sudden confrontation of the United States with the more radical new régimes. Then, Soviet diplomatic encouragement and military and economic aid acquire great value. At minimum, this is a foot-in-the-door policy which will give the Soviets some leverage but will not, probably, give them any significant degree of control. The determination of newly independent peoples to control their own affairs, the cultural attitudes of their peoples, the energies released by their own revolutions and the power balance of the cold war have probably given them relative immunity to Soviet subversion for the coming decade. Perhaps in partial recognition of this, the Soviet Union has recently accepted the modernizing "socialist" movements of some of the Middle Eastern countries virtually as fraternal parties.
Perhaps the main thrust of Soviet strategy will be aimed at attaining a position of influence among the opposition groups in the "pre- revolutionary" countries. In the past, the best opportunity offered to the Communists was in Iraq in 1958-59, following a period of rapid modernization and political repression under a régime with which the United States was identified. In the coming decade, Morocco and Iran may offer major opportunities. If either of these countries followed the violent road of Iraq in 1958-59, one result could be a dramatic change in the East-West balance in Asia and the Middle East. If this is indeed a Soviet goal, the best tactic for the Russians may be to sit tight while the mechanics of social modernization and political repression are allowed to work to create a proper atmosphere for future Soviet activity. This is probably what Khrushchev meant by his analogy of Iran falling like ripe fruit into the Russian grasp.
Like the area itself, American interests in the Middle East are dynamic and must be subjected to constant review. Obviously our interest in preventing Soviet intrusion remains. Indeed, it may confront us more urgently, if less directly, a decade hence if change comes violently in Iran and Morocco. Our need for bases will diminish, but our need for overflight rights in certain parts of the Middle East may increase. While the threshold of American tolerance of violence in the area will probably rise, the arms race, particularly between the U.A.R. and Israel, will command increasing attention. Prevention of the introduction of nuclear weapons is crucial not only to the well-being of the people in the area but to American national interests.
As education is spread even more widely, a meaningful basis will be created for workable representative government-though probably not liberal democracy. This will offer the only practical means of controlling more violent and dangerous aspects of Middle Eastern and North African politics. This tendency may not produce pro-American sentiments but will be of great value to the United States. And, as more of their people become "effectives," it seems likely that all the régimes will have to cater increasingly to aspirations which will require more rational and constructive use of power. If so, a decade hence there may be less foreign adventurism, particularly in those régimes where a new political synthesis has been achieved, and a more professional approach to economic problems than in the past decade.