The Last Crusade: Americanism and the Islamic Reformation

Overview

The United States, argues Michael A. Palmer, is engaged in a political crusade to modernize the Islamic world. Americanism is in the vanguard of modernity’s relentless advance, promoting capitalist markets and democratic institutions. To compete, Islamic societies must adopt a more secular and material approach, as have the West and South and East Asia. But these principles conflict with Islamic fundamentals.

Once a vibrant force, much of the Muslim world spent four centuries as...

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The Last Crusade: Americanism and the Islamic Reformation

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Overview

The United States, argues Michael A. Palmer, is engaged in a political crusade to modernize the Islamic world. Americanism is in the vanguard of modernity’s relentless advance, promoting capitalist markets and democratic institutions. To compete, Islamic societies must adopt a more secular and material approach, as have the West and South and East Asia. But these principles conflict with Islamic fundamentals.

Once a vibrant force, much of the Muslim world spent four centuries as prisoner of an Ottoman Empire that embraced feudalism while the West jettisoned it. In the absence of a renaissance or enlightenment, modernization in the Islamic world has been painful and unsuccessful. While many in the West long for an “Islamic reformation,” Palmer argues that Islamists such as Osama bin Laden are the face of that reformation. Just as Protestant reformers sought a return to the purity of early Christianity, jihadists desire a return to the halcyon days of conquest and expansion, when the Caliphate controlled a united and powerful Muslim community.

American actions have not provoked this conflict, nor can American withdrawal end it, Palmer contends. For example, China, also a once-powerful civilization subjected to Western imperialism, has not produced homicide bombers. Instead, the Chinese are busy modernizing. Islam’s failure to modernize is the root cause of the current situation. Bin Laden and other jihadists understand, correctly, that if Islam is to avoid the materialism and secularism that come with modernity, they must Islamize the West by force.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
The Last Crusade is a pick for not just Middle East collections but for history, political and social issues holdings at both the college and public library lending levels.”

". . . .a challenging and provocative read. The final chapter alone is worth the cost of the book."

"The Last Crusade accurately places the Islamist enemy in historical context and offers an excellent guide for Americans to understand that victory implies modernizing the Muslim world, and nothing less."

Praise for Michael A. Palmer’s Guardians of the Gulf: A History of America's Expanding Role in the Persian Gulf, 1833-1992:

"An important study of a truly important subject . . . objective, perceptive, and comprehensive."

"There is a vacuum of historic perspective in Americans’ understanding of our involvement in the Persian Gulf. Michael Palmer fills the vacuum with new material and new perspective tightly written and ably told."

". . . highly recommended for any definitive college-level holding on Islamic history, culture, or terrorism issues."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781597971652
  • Publisher: Potomac Books Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/31/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 284
  • Sales rank: 784,583
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael A. Palmer is a professor in the history department and the program in maritime studies at East Carolina University. He is the author of two previous books that address U.S. policies in the Middle East, On Course to Desert Storm: The U.S. Navy and the Persian Gulf and Guardians of the Gulf: The Growth of American Involvement in the Persian Gulf, 1833-1992. He lives in Greenville, North Carolina.

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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments     ix
Introduction: The Death Throes of Political Islam?     1
"Slay the Idolaters Wherever You Find Them"     13
"The Ruin of Civilization"     38
The Rise of the West     65
"God's American Israel"     87
"The Sick Man of Europe"     108
War, Oil, and Israel     138
"The Middle East Version of Teddy Roosevelt"     177
The American Crusade     213
Conclusion: "The Will to Live ... The Will to Die"     231
Bibliography     249
Index     261
About the Author     273
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