America and Political Islam: Clash of Cultures or Clash of Interests? / Edition 1

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Overview

This book chronicles the policy debates on Islamism in the United States over the course of time, providing a comprehensive account of the origins of policy, followed by a balanced critique and recommendations for change. It delves deeply into the U.S. political scene to analyze the historical, political, cultural, and security issues that might help explain America's preoccupation with Islam and Muslims. Furthermore, the author sheds much light on the multiplicity of regional and international factors, such as the political decay of Middle Eastern regimes and the end of the Cold War, that shape the thinking of U.S. officials about the contemporary Islamist phenomenon. In addition to examining the domestic, regional, and international context of U.S. Islam policy, the book applies and tests the pronouncements of U.S. officials in four representative case studies - Iran, Algeria, Egypt, and Turkey - allowing decision makers and the shapers of foreign-policy opinion to speak with their own words. Finally, the author addresses the clash-of-civilizations debate and assesses the relative weight that culture and values have on the words and deeds of U.S. officials concerning political Islam.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book is the product of many years of research and reflection on the relations between the West and the Islamic world. It deals with a subject that is not just topical but really important. Fawaz Gerges is uniquely well qualified to write about this subject. He combines deep insight into Middle East politics with a subtle and sophisticated analysis of US policy towards political Islam. His book should be of great interest to students, policymakers, and general readers." Avi Shlaim, St. Antony's College

"Gerges' level-headed analysis superbly reveals the discrepancies between American words and American deeds. Though one might despair of our country ever having a coherent Middle East policy, dispassionate and thorough insight like this could be the beginning of wisdom." Richard Bulliet, Columbia University

"Fawaz Gerges has made a significant contribution to our understanding of U.S. policy toward the Islamic political currents sweeping across the Middle East. One of the many outstanding features of this book is its balanced and remarkably well-informed account of American policymakers at work, torn between democratic idealism and pragmatic security concerns, struggling to comprehend a complex ideological force which they find threatening yet which they dimly realize requires some kind of inclusion in the authoritarian politics of Middle Eastern regimes friendly to Washington. I found his treatment of the Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton policies to be both fair-minded and critical. His policy recommendations are cogent and deserve serious attention. This book is a valuable addition to the literature on American foreign policy in general and our Middle East policy in particular." Michael C. Hudson, Georgetown University

"Fawaz Gerges has written a major critical evaluation of American policy towards the Muslim world that will serve to define public debates on the subject. Based on a meticulous reading of official documents and statements and supplemented with interviews of key decision-makers, he provides a guide at once thought-provoking and instructive to both American rhetoric and policy. Drawing on a deep knowledge of events in the Islamic world as well as insights into the foreign policy making process, Gerges documents the continuities and discontinuities that have marked the US response to a politically mobilised Islam. In the process, he sounds a salutary cautionary note about the dangers of assuming, even implicitly, that 'Islam' constitutes a radical challenge to American interests." James Piscatori, Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies

"Gerges presents the first full-length account of perhaps the most ideological and exciting foreign policy debate of our time—how the US should respond to Islamism. He does so in a clear and well-informed way...Recommended for upper-division undergraduates and above." Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521639576
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1 Framing American Foreign Policy 1
2 The Intellectual Context of American Foreign Policy 20
3 Islam and Muslims in the Mind of America 37
4 The Carter, Reagan, and Bush Administrations' Approach to Islamists 59
5 The Clinton Administration: Co-opting Political Islam 86
6 The Islamic Republic of Iran 115
7 Algeria 143
8 Egypt 171
9 Turkey 192
10 Conclusion 227
References 243
Index 275
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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2000

    A superb analysis of the most misunderstood area of US policy

    The surprising and complete acceptance of the Huntingtonian school of thought lays the need for accurate and thought provoking analysis rather than sweeping generalizations into the most delicate areas of current US foriegn policy. The author gives a detailed, but not drawn out account of the history of US attitudes towards Political Islam and how they have evolved over the past 25 years. He lays to rest the myth that US has sold itself to the 'Clash of Civilizations' thesis, and is still refining its response to Islam. As much as US friends like the dictatorial Arab regimes, Israel and India (to gain Washington's support for control over UN declared disputed and occupied territories) and upto some extent France would like it to believe, the US is realizing the need to engage the Islamic political movements and bringing them closer in understanding to its point of view. I heard of this book through a professor of History while trying to look for any intellectual response to Huntington's thesis. This book deals with one theatre of 'The Clash', namely US and Islam. Though I do not disagree with Huntington completely, I think there are gaps in his logic that allow inaccurate generalizations to be drawn portending a much more menacing future to emerge. This has caused much panic and excitement in policy circles worldwide, especially in the Sino and Muslim worlds. I recommend this book highly for someone looking for a well-researched, balanced, thought provoking and well written analysis of US-Islam relations.

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