In This Review

Middle East Dilemma: The Politics and Economics of Arab Integration
Middle East Dilemma: The Politics and Economics of Arab Integration
Edited by Michael C. Hudson
Columbia University Press, 1999, 368 pp.

This book offers a sober, even pessimistic, appraisal of Arab integration. In their assessment of the changing politics of the Arab world, none of the authors sees any great integrative breakthroughs looming ahead. The editor even concedes in his thorough and useful introduction that cynics might dub "Arab integration" an oxymoron. After going through numerous case studies -- the rise and fall of the United Arab Republic, the federative experience of the United Arab Emirates, the Gulf Cooperation Council, efforts at Maghrib Unity, and the unification of the two Yemens -- the contributors point to few success stories. The book concludes with five chapters on the modest Arab efforts at economic integration. An implicit question raised by some authors is whether economic integration should be "Arab," "Middle Eastern" (Arab and non-Arab), or "Mediterranean" (European plus Arab and others). These uniformly thoughtful contributions provide a nuanced analysis of past integrative efforts with prudent and restrained speculation about the future.