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  • Author: Wael B. Hallaq
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Columbia University Press
  • Abstract: Wael B. Hallaq boldly argues that the "Islamic state," judged by any standard definition of what the modern state represents, is both impossible and inherently self-contradictory. Comparing the legal, political, moral, and constitutional histories of premodern Islam and Euro-America, he finds the adoption and practice of the modern state to be highly problematic for modern Muslims. He also critiques more expansively modernity's moral predicament, which renders impossible any project resting solely on ethical foundations. The modern state not only suffers from serious legal, political, and constitutional issues, Hallaq argues, but also, by its very nature, fashions a subject inconsistent with what it means to be, or to live as, a Muslim. By Islamic standards, the state's technologies of the self are severely lacking in moral substance, and today's Islamic state, as Hallaq shows, has done little to advance an acceptable form of genuine Shari'a governance. The Islamists' constitutional battles in Egypt and Pakistan, the Islamic legal and political failures of the Iranian Revolution, and similar disappointments underscore this fact. Nevertheless, the state remains the favored template of the Islamists and the ulama (Muslim clergymen). Providing Muslims with a path toward realizing the good life, Hallaq turns to the rich moral resources of Islamic history. Along the way, he proves political and other "crises of Islam" are not unique to the Islamic world nor to the Muslim religion. These crises are integral to the modern condition of both East and West, and by acknowledging these parallels, Muslims can engage more productively with their Western counterparts.
  • Topic: Islam, Post Colonialism, Fragile/Failed State, Governance
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Publication Identifier: 9780231162579
  • Publication Identifier Type: ISBN
  • Author: Jonathan Lyons
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Columbia University Press
  • Abstract: Despite the West's growing involvement in Muslim societies, conflicts, and cultures, its inability to understand or analyze the Islamic world threatens any prospect for East-West rapprochement. Impelled by one thousand years of anti-Muslim ideas and images, the West has failed to engage in any meaningful or productive way with the world of Islam. Formulated in the medieval halls of the Roman Curia and courts of the European Crusaders and perfected in the newsrooms of Fox News and CNN, this anti-Islamic discourse determines what can and cannot be said about Muslims and their religion, trapping the West in a dangerous, dead-end politics that it cannot afford. In Islam Through Western Eyes, Jonathan Lyons unpacks Western habits of thinking and writing about Islam, conducting a careful analysis of the West's grand totalizing narrative across one thousand years of history. He observes the discourse's corrosive effects on the social sciences, including sociology, politics, philosophy, theology, international relations, security studies, and human rights scholarship. He follows its influence on research, speeches, political strategy, and government policy, preventing the West from responding effectively to its most significant twenty-first-century challenges: the rise of Islamic power, the emergence of religious violence, and the growing tension between established social values and multicultural rights among Muslim immigrant populations. Through the intellectual "archaeology" of Michel Foucault, Lyons reveals the workings of this discourse and its underlying impact on our social, intellectual, and political lives. He then addresses issues of deep concern to Western readers--Islam and modernity, Islam and violence, and Islam and women--and proposes new ways of thinking about the Western relationship to the Islamic world.
  • Topic: Islam, Post Colonialism, Political Theory, Culture
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Publication Identifier: 9780231158954
  • Publication Identifier Type: ISBN
  • Author: Michael W. S. Ryan
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Columbia University Press
  • Abstract: By consulting the work of well-known and obscure al-Qaeda theoreticians, Michael W. S. Ryan finds jihadist terrorism strategy has more in common with the principles of Maoist guerrilla warfare than mainstream Islam. Encouraging strategists and researchers to devote greater attention to jihadi ideas rather than jihadist military operations, Ryan builds an effective framework for analyzing al-Qaeda's plans against America and constructs a compelling counternarrative to the West's supposed "war on Islam." Ryan examines the Salafist roots of al-Qaeda ideology and the contributions of its most famous founders, Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a political-military context. He also reads the Arabic-language works of lesser known theoreticians who have played an instrumental role in framing al-Qaeda's so-called war of the oppressed. These authors readily cite the guerrilla strategies of Mao, Che Guevara, and the mastermind of the Vietnam War, General Giap. They also incorporate the arguments of American theorists writing on "fourth-generation warfare." Through these texts, readers experience events as insiders see them, and by concentrating on the activities and pronouncements of al-Qaeda's thought leaders, especially in Yemen, they discern the direct link between al-Qaeda's tactics and trends in anti-U.S. terrorism. Ryan shows al-Qaeda's political-military strategy to be a revolutionary and largely secular departure from the classic Muslim conception of jihad, adding invaluable dimensions to the operational, psychological, and informational strategies already deployed by America's military in the region.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Military Strategy, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Publication Identifier: 9780231533270
  • Publication Identifier Type: ISBN
  • Author: Hans Mouritzen (ed), Nanna Hvidt (ed)
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: The Permanent Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs analyses Danish foreign-policy priorities in 2011. The troublesome situation for the global econ-omy, including an uncertain outlook for the future, was the most impor-tant backdrop for Danish foreign policy in that year. Low growth prospects, combined with high levels of public debt, had wide foreign-policy implica-tions, amongst other things for the agenda of the EU and as a result also for the preparations for the Danish EU Presidency in the first half of 2012. This article therefore takes its point of departure in the state of the global economy, the state of the European economies and the challenges that this presented to the EU. It then goes on to discuss the emerging world powers, the Arab Spring, the world's conflict areas, security policy, Denmark's north-ern neighbours and various global issues, such as development cooperation, green growth and human rights. Finally, some reflections are offered on the core tasks of the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs at a time when there is increased pressure on Denmark's public finances and the world influence of Denmark's traditional partners and allies is waning.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Europe, Middle East, Asia, Arab Countries, Denmark, North Africa
  • Author: Michael Noonan
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: On the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines have confronted third-party national combatants. Known as “foreign fighters,” these individuals have gained deadly skills and connections that can be exported or exploited to devastating effect in other locations. Over the past two decades, the foreign fighters phenomenon has grown after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979—to the ethnically cleansed fields of the Balkans to Chechnya and beyond. But this is not a new problem. This report is the second volume of findings from an important series of FPRI conferences on the so-called foreign fighter problem. These conferences have brought together leading experts in the field to examine and discuss this phenomenon from different ideational and disciplinary perspectives. While the first volume dealt primarily with functional areas of the phenomenon, this edition focuses primarily on the case studies of al Qaeda franchises or allied affiliates in Somalia, the Maghreb, Yemen, and Afghanistan/Pakistan. Today, the outcomes of the geopolitical revolution unfolding across North Africa and the Middle East are far from clear, the problems associated with al Qaeda and its affiliated movement are likely to breed havoc for the foreseeable future across the region. Furthermore, the veterans spawned by such conflicts undoubtedly will present problems for international security writ large, too. The cases and phenomenon analyzed here may well provide important lessons for both those interested in the regions under examination here, but also for others who examine international challenges far removed from the study of radical extremism of the al Qaeda variety.
  • Topic: War, International Security, Insurgency, Violent Extremism
  • Political Geography: Arab Countries, North Africa