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  • Author: Andy Baker
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: "Why do they hate us?” This question1, on so many U.S. citizens' minds over the decade following the September 11, 2001, attacks, is often asked about Islamic extremists and even the broader Muslim world. Among the most common responses is that “they” resent U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. When the focus shifts to Latin America, U.S. foreign policy similarly appears to be the principal reason for anti-Americanism. This seems to make sense. One would be hard-pressed to find another world region with greater and more long-standing grievances about Washington's actions. The Monroe Doctrine, Dollar Diplomacy and Cold War Containment were euphemisms for imperial abuses committed against Latin America over the course of two centuries.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Cold War, Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Latin America
  • Author: Arabinda Acharya
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis
  • Institution: S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Assessing extremism requires an understanding of jihadist authority and how it relates to the vanguard role of Al Qaeda. Contrary to conventional thinking, Al Qaeda is not the supreme authority in the hierarchy of Salafi - jihadist doctrine; neither are all significant elements of the jihadist threat, many of which are decentralized, directly associated with Al Qaeda, as is the case with the Islamic State of the Levant (ISIL).
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: David Tier
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Connections
  • Institution: Partnership for Peace Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes
  • Abstract: Our world is on a trajectory leading to a point where terrorists will eventually acquire a nuclear weapon. It is only a matter of time. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States recognized the lack of effectiveness of its previous intelligence and military efforts in deterring terrorists and sought an alternate way to defuse the radical Islamist threat. By continuing to advocate the use of military force in Iraq after weapons of mass destruction were not found, the U.S. pursued a strategy in line with the idealist school of thought by attempting to plant a democracy in the heart of the Middle East. Iraq became the centerpiece of the United States' ambitions to stop the region from exporting violence and terror, and attempted to transform it into a place of progress and peace. This effort was ambitious indeed, and many argued that these goals were be- yond the United States' ability to achieve. However, this strategy offered a possible solution to the endless cycle of violence across the Middle East and Africa and its continuing threat to U.S. national security. The current administration, in contrast, announced last year a "rebalance toward the Asia -Pacific region," ostensibly to counter the growing strength of China's military power. Like an ostrich sticking its head in the sand, this shift pivots the U.S. away from its true threat and increases the peril its citizens will face. The United States should focus its efforts on supporting democratization in troubled regions, and policy makers must counter those who criticize this strategy, including military-industrial complex advocates of the "pivot."
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, Asia, Mumbai
  • Author: Stevan Weine
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Obama administration's landmark new approach to countering violent extremism through engaging community partners calls for no less than a paradigm shift in how we understand the causes of terrorism. The shift is away from a pathways approach focused on how push and pull factors influenced one person's trajectory toward or away from violent extremism, and towards an ecological view that looks at how characteristics of the social environment can either lead to or diminish involvement in violent extremism for the persons living there. The core idea of this new paradigm, conveyed in the White House's December 2011 Strategic Implementation Plan for Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States (SIP), is that of countering violent extremism through building resilience. Denis McDonough, former Deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama, expressed this at an Islamic center in Virginia, stating, “we know, as the President said, that the best defense against terrorist ideologies is strong and resilient individuals and communities.” Subsequent White House documents have further unpacked this, for example, in stating: “[n]ational security draws on the strength and resilience of our citizens, communities, and economy.” Resilience usually refers to persons' capacities to withstand or bounce back from adversity. It is a concept derived from engineering perspectives upon the durability of materials to bend and not break. In recent years, resilience has come to the forefront in the fields of public health, child development, and disaster relief. To scientists and policymakers, resilience is not just a property of individuals, but of families, communities, organizations, networks, and societies. Resilience-focused policies and interventions that support or enhance its components have yielded significant and cost effective gains in preventing HIV/AIDS transmission, and helping high-risk children and disaster-impacted populations. Though the present use of resilience sounds more like resistance, today's hope is that such approaches could also keep young Americans away from violent extremism. A resilience approach offers no quick fix, not in any of the aforementioned fields or in countering violent extremism. It depends upon adequately understanding what resilience means for a particular group of persons and how it has been shaped by history, politics, social context, and culture. It also depends upon government establishing and sustaining partnerships with the impacted families, communities, networks, and organizations. Additionally, it depends on government working in partnership to design, implement, and evaluate what interventions can really make a difference in building resilience, a process certain to involve trial and error
  • Topic: Security, Islam
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jennifer Lind
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The National Interest
  • Institution: The Nixon Center
  • Abstract: THE UNITED States has security partnerships with numerous countries whose people detest America. The United States and Pakistan wrangled for seven months over a U.S. apology for the NATO air strikes that killed twenty-four Pakistani soldiers in 2011. The accompanying protests that roiled Islamabad, Karachi and other cities are a staple of the two countries' fraught relationship. Similarly, American relations with Afghanistan repeatedly descended into turmoil last year as Afghans expressed outrage at Koran burnings by U.S. personnel through riots and killings. “Green on blue” attacks—Afghan killings of U.S. soldiers—plague the alliance. In many Islamic countries, polls reflect little warmth toward Americans. Washington's strategy of aligning with governments, rather than peoples, blew up in Egypt and could blow up in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Yemen. America's alliances in the Middle East and Persian Gulf are fraught with distrust, dislike and frequent crisis. Is there any hope for them? Turns out, there is. Fifty years ago, a different alliance was rocked by crisis and heading toward demise. Like many contemporary U.S. alliances, it had been created as a marriage of convenience between Washington and a narrow segment of elites, and it was viewed with distrust by the peoples of both countries. Yet a half century later, that pairing is one of the strongest security partnerships in the world—the alliance between the United States and Japan.
  • Topic: Security, Islam
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, Japan, America, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Egypt
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Palestine Studies
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: This section includes articles and news items, mainly from Israeli but also from international press sources, that provide insightful or illuminating perspectives on events, developments, or trends in Israel and the occupied territories not readily available in the mainstream U.S. media.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Intelligence, Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, Ireland
  • Author: Andrew Bernstein
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: On the morning of September 11, 2001, Mohammed Atta and his minions flew stolen planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, destroying the former and murdering thousands of innocent civilians. What motivated this atrocity? What filled the murderers with such all-consuming hatred that they were willing to surrender their own lives in order to kill thousands of innocent human beings? The clear answer is that these were religious zealots engaged in holy war with their primordial enemy—the embodiment of the modern secular West: the United States of America.In their evil way, the Islamists provide mankind with some clarity. They remind us of what real religion is and looks like—not the Christianity or Judaism of the modern West, watered down and diluted by the secular principles of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment; but real faith-based, reason-rejecting, sin-bashing, kill-the-infidels religion. The atrocities of 9/11 and other similar terrorist acts by Islamists do not clash with their creed. On the contrary, they are consistent with the essence of religion—not merely of Islam—but religion more broadly, religion as such. This is an all-important lesson that humanity must learn: Religion is hazardous to your health. Unfortunately, conventional views of religion hold just the opposite. Many people believe that religion is the necessary basis of morality—that without belief in God, there can be no ethics, no right or wrong. A character in Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov famously expressed this view: “In a world without God, all things become permissible.” In the 21st century, many people still believe this. But the converse is true. A rational, fact-based, life-promoting morality is impossible on religious premises. Indeed, religion clashes with every rational principle and factual requirement of a proper, life-advancing ethics. A proper ethics, one capable of promoting flourishing human life on earth, requires the utter repudiation of religion—of all of its premises, tenets, implications, and consequences. To begin understanding the clash between religion and human life, consider the Dark Ages, the interminable centuries following the fall of Rome in the 5th century AD. The barbarian tribes that overran Rome eventually converted to Christianity, which, in the form of the Catholic Church, became the dominant philosophic and cultural force of medieval Europe. Unlike the essentially secular classical world, or the post-Renaissance modern world, the medieval world zealously embraced religion as the fundamental source of truth and moral guidance. What were the results in human life?
  • Topic: Health, Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Europe
  • Author: Shadi Hamid, Steven Brooke
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: On february 11, 2011, Egypt had its revolution when President Hosni Mubarak finally stepped down after 18 days of massive protests. With the military taking control and promising a transition to democracy, the question of what comes next has acquired a particular urgency. Specifically, Western fears of the Muslim Brotherhood stepping into the political vacuum have re-energized a longstanding debate about the role of Islamists in Middle Eastern politics, and the dilemma that poses for the United States.
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, Egypt
  • Author: Matias Spektor
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Americas Quarterly
  • Institution: Council of the Americas
  • Abstract: Read any Brazilian foreign policy college textbook and you will be surprised. Global order since 1945 is not described as open, inclusive or rooted in multilateralism. Instead, you learn that big powers impose their will on the weak through force and rules that are strict and often arbitrary. In this world view, international institutions bend over backwards to please their most powerful masters. International law, when it is used by the strong, is less about binding great powers and self-restraint than about strong players controlling weaker ones. After finishing the book, you couldn't be blamed for believing that the liberal international order has never established the just, level playing field for world politics that its supporters claim. This intellectual approach is responsible for the ambiguity at the heart of Brazilian strategic thinking. On one hand, Brazil has benefited enormously from existing patterns of global order. It was transformed from a modest rural economy in the 1940s into an industrial powerhouse less than 50 years later, thanks to the twin forces of capitalism and an alliance system that kept it safe. On the other hand, the world has been a nasty place for Brazil. Today, it is one of the most unequal societies in the world. Millions still live in poverty and violence abounds. In 2009, there were more violent civilian deaths in the state of Rio de Janeiro alone than in the whole of Iraq. No doubt a fair share of the blame belongs to successive generations of Brazilian politicians and policymakers. But some of it is a function of the many inequities and distortions that recur when you are on the “periphery” of a very unequal international system. The result is a view of global order that vastly differs from perceptions held by the United States. Take, for instance, Brazilian perceptions of “international threats.” Polls show that the average Brazilian worries little about terrorism, radical Islam or a major international war. Instead, the primary fears concern climate change, poverty and infectious disease. Many Brazilians, in fact, fear the U.S., focusing in particular on the perceived threat it poses to the natural riches of the Amazon and the newfound oil fields under the Brazilian seabed. Perceptions matter enormously. It is no wonder that the Brazilian military spends a chunk of its time studying how Vietnamese guerrillas won a war against far superior forces in jungle battlefields. Nor should it be a surprise that Brazil is now investing heavily in the development of nuclear-propulsion submarines that its admirals think will facilitate the nation's ability to defend oil wells in open waters. But Brazil is nowhere near being a revolutionary state. While its leaders believe that a major transition of global power is currently underway, they want to be seen as smooth operators when new rules to the game emerge. Their designs are moderate because they have a stake in preserving the principles that underwrite Brazil's emergence as a major world player. They will not seek to radically overturn existing norms and practices but to adapt them to suit their own interests instead. Could Brazilian intentions change over time? No doubt. Notions of what constitutes the national interest will transform as the country rises. Brazil's international ambitions are likely to expand—no matter who runs the country. Three factors will shape the way national goals will evolve in the next few years: the relationship with the U.S., Brasilia's strategies for dealing with the rest of South America, and Brazil's ideas about how to produce global order. When it Comes to the U.S., Lie Low Brazilian officials are used to repeating that to be on the U.S. “radar screen” is not good. In their eyes, being the source of American attention poses two possible threats. It either raises expectations in Washington that Brazil will work as a “responsible stakeholder” according to some arbitrary criteria of what “responsible” means, or it turns Brazil into a target of U.S. pressure when interests don't coincide. As a result, there is a consensus among Brazilians that a policy of “ducking”—hiding your head underwater when the hegemonic eagle is around—has served them well. Whether this judgment is correct or not is for historians to explore. But the utility of a policy based on such a consensus is declining fast. You cannot flex your diplomatic muscle abroad and hope to go unnoticed. Furthermore, being a “rising state” is never a mere function of concrete things, such as a growing economy, skilled armies, mighty industries, a booming middle class, or a functional state that is effective in tax collection and the provision of public goods. The perception of other states matters just as much. And nobody's perception matters more than that of the most powerful state of all: the United States. Brazil's current rise is therefore deeply intertwined with the perception in Washington that Brazil is moving upwards in global hierarchies. Securing the acceptance or the implicit support of the U.S. while maintaining some distance will always be a fragile position to maintain. But as Brazil grows more powerful, it will be difficult to accomplish its global objectives without the complicity—and the tacit acceptance—of the United States. For Brazil this means that the “off the radar” option will become increasingly difficult. Not the Natural Regional Leader Brazil accounts for over 50 percent of South America's wealth, people and territory. If power were a product of relative material capabilities alone, Brazil would be more powerful in its own region than China, India, Turkey or South Africa are in theirs. But Brazil is not your typical regional power. It has sponsored layers of formal institutions and regional norms, but its leaders recoil at the thought of pooling sovereignty into supranational bodies. Yes, Brazil has modernized South American politics by promoting norms to protect democracy and to establish a regional zone of peace, but its efforts at promoting a regional sense of shared purposes have been mixed and, some say, halfhearted at best. Brazilian public opinion and private-sector business increasingly doubt the benefits of deep regional integration with neighbors, and plans for a South American Free Trade Zone have gone asunder. And yes, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), from 1998 to 2007, Brazil spent far more on its armed forces than Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Venezuela combined. Yet, Brazil's ability to project military power abroad remains minimal. The end result is that many challenge the notion that Brazil is a regional leader. From the perspective of smaller neighboring countries, it remains a country that is too hard to follow sometimes. If you are sitting on its borders, as 10 South American nations do, you find it difficult to jump on its bandwagon. This is problematic for Brazil. As a major and growing regional creditor, investor, consumer, and exporter, its own economic fate is interconnected with that of its neighbors. Crises abroad impact its banks and companies at home as never before. Populism, ethnic nationalism, narcotics trafficking, guerrilla warfare, deforestation, unlawful pasturing, economic decay, and political upheaval in neighbors will deeply harm Brazilian interests. Whether, when and how Brazil will develop the policy instruments to shape a regional order beneficial to itself remains to be seen. But curiously enough, Brazilian leaders do not normally think their interests in South America might converge with those of the United States. On the contrary, Brazil in the twenty-first century has geared its regional policies to deflect, hedge, bind, and restrain U.S. power in South America to the extent that it can. This is not to say that Brazil is a stubborn challenger of U.S. interests in the region. That would be silly for a country whose success depends on the perception of economic gain and regional stability. But it means that future generations of Brazilians might discover that if they want to unlock some of the most pressing problems in the region, perhaps they will have to reconsider their attitude towards the United States...
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Law, Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Washington, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, South America, Venezuela, Chile
  • Author: Irina Vainovski-Mihai
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Leaving aside the academic discourse, the “theoretical and methodological shields that usually ensure a semblance of detachment,” (p.ix) Marnia Lazreg, a professor of sociology at Hunter College and the City University of New York Graduate Center, adds her voice to the ever-expanding bibliography on the veil. Committed to writing this book, as she declaredly has reached a point where she could no longer keep quiet about the issue, (p.2) the author addresses Muslim women who either have taken up the veil or are considering wearing it. In doing this, she finds incumbent to reveal herself personally while recounting her experience as a Muslim woman growing up in colonial Algeria and that of several women she has interviewed over the past fifteen years in the Middle East, North Africa, France, and the United States. In each of her five open letters, Lazreg presents different veiling or reveiling experiences, interprets them and takes issue with their justification, pointing out that the custom of “covering” should be always regarded in its historical, political, and socio-cultural context, as long as “the veil is never innocent,” (p.125) it is both a discourse and a practice. Based on these grounds, in the Introduction, when clarifying certain terms used in the book, Lazreg states that by the expression “Muslim women” she refers to the “the women who have taken up the veil as a way for them to display their religious affiliation” (p.12) and she adds: “The best but cumbersome way to refer to these women would be 'women-who- wear-the-veil-because-they-think-it- is-a religious-obligation-in-Islam.' There is no generic 'Muslim woman,' just as there is no generic 'Christian woman' – only concrete women engaged in concret actions.”
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, France, North Africa