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Even as we enter the second decade of the 21st century, the lessons of previous decades are never far behind -- particularly when it comes to the Middle East.

As our founding director Ambassador Edward P. Djerejian notes in an op-ed published this past weekend in The Wall Street Journal, three events in 1979 have had dire consequences for the Middle East and long-term implications far beyond the region's borders.

The overthrow of the shah of Iran by the Ayatollah Khomeini was a watershed moment for anti-Western forces. The takeover of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, by a group of Islamic extremists and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan further fostered the forces of radicalization.

Prior to joining the Baker Institute, Ambassador Djerejian served as the U.S. ambassador to Israel, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, and, before that, as ambassador to Syria.

Read the Jan. 1., 2010 Wall Street Journal op-ed, "The Radical Legacy of 1979"