While the Middle East failed to transform its oil riches of the last half-century into stable, transparent societies, Asia globalized and embraced the free market. The resulting self-generated riches in the Pacific do not derive from the accident of oil under the ground in Singapore, Hong Kong, or Taipei, but rather from global competitiveness and internal reforms. If China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan were as poor as the Middle East 60 years ago, they are now the economic equals to European and North American nations. Their motto is to borrow from and then beat — not envy or blame — the West.
For now, Western tourists and students still mostly avoid Amman, Baghdad, Benghazi, Cairo, and Damascus. American soldiers are drawing down from the bases of the Middle East. And soon huge American-bound oil tankers will not crowd each other at the docks of the Persian Gulf.
You see, the Middle East is not so much dangerous, challenging, or vital to Western interests as it is becoming irrelevant.
— Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His new book, The Savior Generals, will appear this month from Bloomsbury Press. You can reach him by e-mailing [email protected]. © 2013 Tribune Media Services, Inc.