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It is a must read for policymakers in a new administration that will need a road map to both understand and engage the Islamic world. Tenet, former CIA director. Emile Nakhleh provides an incisive analysis of the myths and reality of the Islamic challenge facing America and how American policymakers have understood and reacted to that challenge.
All those interested in the future of America's relations with the Muslim world will do well to pay close attention to this timely and informative book. Making a strong case for the links between political intelligence and public diplomacy, Nakhleh offers intelligence professionals, policymakers, scholars, and the general public what they need to know in order to understand the cultural and religious dimensions of international politics.
The author's wealth of experience and rich sources make this book an important contribution to the public debate. The importance and timeliness of the book's topic can hardly be exaggerated and A Necessary Engagement should be required reading for officials in the next administration. Emile Nakhleh.
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Ships with Tracking Number! This is a powerful argument for the recruitment of potential foot soldiers of militant Islam. This argument is also a challenge to the European paradigm of modernity and cannot be dismissed as just a medieval aberration. This response is historically part of just one among a range of manifestations—reactionary at one end and mildly progressive at the other—which has unfolded since the late colonial era of the s as Muslim religious groups and parties began to insert themselves in the more powerful secular-oriented anticolonial movements, such as in colonial Algeria, Indonesia, India and other states.
By examining this history, one becomes aware that the larger aim of such Islamist anti-colonial movements historically had little to do with the right to self-determination of nations and more with enlarging an impositional pan-Muslim nationalism for which the separation of politics and religion made little sense. However, the harmful effects of pan-Islamic nationalism have been rarely taken up by the Western left or even by secular and national or subnational groups in Muslim-majority states.
On this issue of harm, it needs to be said that one often overlooks how the Enlightenment notion of modernity has also had debilitating and harmful consequences for the former colonized. This rationale was implemented in the colonies once the charter companies the British and Dutch East India companies were dissolved and the colonial state was formally established—for instance, in parts of Asia since the mid s.
However, the psycho-social and economic harm to the colonized is something that has endured well into the post-colonial era.
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On this issue, Amin claims that in countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the upper classes are the main supporters of political Islam. Now, this assumption may be valid for Saudi Arabia, 9 but it is definitely not true for Pakistan. The support for political and militant Islam in Pakistan comes from the middle class and religious political parties, with the upper classes taking strategic decisions in defense of or opposition to political Islam depending on policy or ideological shifts within the post-colonial state.
So the Islamist sales pitch provides a very small dose of material and a large vial of moral support that rekindles hope in these new recruits. Consequently, the chasm between the middle class the rich become a whole other comparator and the desperately poor continues to widen, and more people have fallen through this gap and into the madrassahs of militant Islam. Alongside, the United States uses the social and economic dislocations caused by neoliberalism to supplant its imperial militarist moves in Muslim-majority countries by enlisting the support of its client governments in these states.
This larger objective is driving U. Thus, the burden shifts on the people in client Muslim-majority states to force their governments to change course so that the twin scourge of U. This, given that the downtrodden people in Pakistan have struggled hard for the maintenance of national sovereignty, almost never giving the religious parties more than 8 percent of the popular vote, 11 while also fighting to introduce the rule of law, and trying to keep Islam within the private and personal realm.
But all this effort goes unacknowledged if the analysis is mainly focused on the upper classes, which then makes it convenient to lump Pakistan with Saudi Arabia. Pakistan is now fast becoming central to a revised U. The current civilian government is not very different from the previous military dictators in prostrating before the United States and its demands.
Therefore, in summarily dismissing political Islam, its larger project is obscured. This project has been spelled out very clearly by both political and militant Islamists, which is to capture state power. Such fairy tales can be effectively countered if there is an organized left in Muslim-majority states.
Is Radical Islam Inevitable in Central Asia? Priorities for Engagement
But the left in these states has been so hounded and beaten in the past 50 years of repression that reorganizing and regrouping them from the ground up seems to be a Herculean task. So, if the progressive and secular groups are to have even an outside chance of confronting political Islam, there will be no substitute for a critical understanding of this social phenomenon.
Islamophobia is a critical issue on which Amin seems to have missed the boat.