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The New Middle East

A few moments after the Israeli air force dropped two bombs in the center of Tyre, south Lebanon.

THE END OF AN ERA

Just over two centuries since Napoleon's arrival in Egypt heralded the advent of the modern Middle East -- some 80 years after the demise of the Ottoman Empire, 50 years after the end of colonialism, and less than 20 years after the end of the Cold War -- the American era in the Middle East, the fourth in the region's modern history, has ended. Visions of a new, Europe-like region -- peaceful, prosperous, democratic -- will not be realized. Much more likely is the emergence of a new Middle East that will cause great harm to itself, the United States, and the world.

All the eras have been defined by the interplay of contending forces, both internal and external to the region. What has varied is the balance between these influences. The Middle East's next era promises to be one in which outside actors have a relatively modest

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