The map of Asia shows us that Arabia passes up in a long narrow tongue marked “ t h e Syrian desert”, and this formed a kind of wedge between the ancient kingdoms of Persia and Rome. It is in this part that Bevan’s description holds true most completely: political ambition may write “Syria” across this desert territory but it is essentially a part of Arabia, the land of the Arabs, whose boundaries depend not on the con ventions of ordered states but on the levels at which cultivation, and consequently settled agricultural life, necessarily comes to an end. More than once the neighbouring states have tried to extend their authority over this desert area, but so far i t has always proved too costly in life and resources to continue to do so efficiently: Hadrian had to retire from the occupation of that territory because Rome was unwilling to stand the constant strain, and England has recently withdrawn for the same reason. The time-honoured policy has been to enlist the co-operation of some of the border tribes and use them as a rampart against the hungry nomad hosts of the deserts. Such was the policy of the late Ottoman Government, such is now becoming the policy of Great Britain and France, and was the
policy of Rome and Persia in the early centuries of the Christian era.