Chapter 4: The power of ideology in the Middle East and its limits
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Ideology is an important feature of Middle East politics. It helps to legitimize state and nonstate actors, and it articulates the complexity of national aspirations and collective grievances into simple narratives about ingroups and outgroups, alternative sociopolitical institutions, and territorial aspirations. Ideology can inspire both loyalty and opposition to the state, facilitate collective mobilization against adversaries, and foster individual commitments to sacrifice for a cause. However, despite the power of ideology to transform political hierarchies, two ideological movements in the Middle East - pan-Arab nationalism and pan-Islamism - have failed in their main objectives to redraw the territorial boundaries of the Middle East or fundamentally reorder the regional distribution of power between status quo and revisionist states. Two factors - internal fragmentation and external intervention - help explain their failure. Both Arabism and Islamism were plagued with factional rivalries, enabling a divide-and-conquer strategy on the part of their state adversaries. External military intervention during critical periods of ascendancy proved to be an insurmountable obstacle for these ideological movements. In the Middle East, the power of ideology has encountered its limits.

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