This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book describes the dynamics of the many different conflicts throughout the Middle East. It proposes a different yet complementary cause for the difficulty of calculating a military balance in the Middle East. The book shows that conventional military systems are quite fragile and that the military forces of different states are very dissimilar--much more than they appear to the superficial eye. It argues that the character of most Middle East governments presents serious limitations on the prospects for applying arms control in the region. The book provides a provocative critique of the economic rationale for conventional arms control. It also argues that most Middle East states are perfectly capable of sustaining their current high level of arms purchases. The book presents a French perspective on the prospects for arms control in the Middle East.