Recent events have provided both an opportunity and the need to reexamine some of the basic perceptions and assumptions underlying the policies of the United States toward the Middle East The collapse of the Reagan Administration's policy in Lebanon revealed pave errors in the way U.S. policy-makers perceived the politics of that hapless Middle Eastern country, just as the collapse of the Carter Administration's policy in Iran earlier revealed similar errors about the politics of that apparently solid Middle Eastern ally. 1 And the increasing involvement of U.S. naval vessels and military aircraft in the spreading Persian Gulf war carries with it the probability that comparable errors in perceiving the Middle East will lead to even more costly failures in the region.