The Muslim Renovatio (Some of Us Knew What Was Coming)

Dear Readers, some of us saw what was happening eight years ago. What is below was published in 2004 for a then-popular Conservative webzine, TechCentralStation. I offer this because we could have seen what was happening in Islam, but chose not to -- or better yet, chose to deny it. At the time I was a member of the Bush Defense Science Board, and they unhesitatingly rejected my conclusions -- with extreme prejudice.

Yet you will see that it is all here, proposed and sketched-out back in 2004 -- and it did not come from me alone, but from others who helped me see, especially Ray Baker at Trinity College -- and we did not fail for trying. It has all unfolded since as described here -- and will keep unfolding -- as was clear then.

The bottom line: We know as little now about the Muslim world as we did on 9/11, because we do not wish to know. For better or worse, the Bush administration shaped our worldview of Islam. We have not yet escaped their theocratic vision of a Muslim world in need of American redemption. We still cannot accept how their authentic struggle to renew identity is something Muslims themselves should resolve.

The original essay is still online here.

It is long, but worth it.


The Muslim Renovatio and US Strategy

7 April 2004

For two years and more this war has had only two definitions. Think of them as working models to explain what is going on, and thus, frameworks for strategy and policy. However each, in fundamental ways, is wrong.

Most Americans, and their president, subscribe to the explanatory model of "terrorism." The terrorism model describes the enemy as small groups that are marginal in their own world -- generally accepted at this point as the Muslim World. They may have political objectives but within their own societies they are considered no more than criminal. They can thus be addressed as criminals through eradication. However, their persistence suggests that broader societal ills are responsible for their emergence. Thus, encouraging democratic reform within societies that produce terrorism is indicated.

Others in contrast describe a Muslim "civil war." This explanatory model says that terrorism is the expression of a broad struggle within Islam between moderates and radicals. Radicals have chosen the path of violence -- hence, terrorism -- while moderates, including most governments in the Muslim World, would prefer to pursue political contention peacefully. Thus the US should oppose "Radical Islam" generally and support moderate Muslim regimes. This model by implication suggests that US strategy cannot merely encourage, but must insist upon the adoption of Western civic values in order to successfully defeat the vision of Radical Islam.

But there is a third explanatory model, and it exposes what is wrong with the two prevailing frameworks. This model describes neither terrorism nor civil war, but rather a "world-historical" movement of Islamic revival. Terrorism in this reality-framework is an expression neither of criminal evil nor of an evil vision. Rather, violent radical elements are only a small part of a much broader movement for Islamic restoration, or in the traditional sense inherited from Late Antiquity, of Renovatio.1 Renovatio, or another Roman favourite, Reparatio, speaks more directly to Islamist visions than words like "revival," which in the Western consciousness at least refer more narrowly to simpler religious "awakenings." For Muslims at least, their vision is one of an entire order restored, of not simply religion but of an entire, "rightly guided" way of life brought back as it should be. For a generation and more the drive for this Islamic restoration has been gathering strength and asserting itself.

This alternative model suggests that terrorism cannot be truly abstracted as a separate phenomenon within the Muslim World, but instead must be seen as part of a bigger change movement within that world. Likewise, there is no civil war between mythical "moderates" -- meaning "reasonable" Muslims who just want to live and let live -- and wild-eyed "radicals" who would burn it all down. In contrast the larger Islamist restoration movement seeks to purify the Muslim World of corrupt and apostate tyrants. The movement has many elements and agendas, and thus many paths to this goal. Like many broad movements with revolutionary goals, most are non-violent. The example of Islamists in Egypt and Turkey suggests that the majority of Islamists seek their goals through peaceful means, and the world they would create is couched in surprisingly moderate and tolerant terms.

But the goal shared by all Islamists is nonetheless a radical goal. The restoration of Islam would mean an end to Western style secular civil society in the Muslim World, even if it led to an Islamic civil society that Westerners might not find uncomfortable.2

If this model is closer to actual "reality" in the Muslim World than the two frameworks currently underpinning US strategy and policy, it suggests strongly a rethinking of both strategy and policy. If the Islamist restoration movement is the core dynamic of change within the Muslim World, and truly of world-historical proportions,3 this suggests a very changed world, admittedly over the historical long term. But if US actions today materially affect even long-term outcomes, this is important:

American strategy may appear to be succeeding in the short-term, but may actually be helping to achieve the opposite of what it intends over the long-term.

But how can we know whether the Islamist renovatio is truly the core dynamic of change in the Muslim World, as opposed to either terrorism -- a criminal assault on the Muslim establishment -- or civil war -- the vision of radical Islam versus the life of "regular" Muslim societies?4 This alternative model must be more deliberately explored before it can openly compete with our current explanatory frameworks. This cannot be done in a single paper or through simple argument. Instead it is proposed here that to test this third model, we should ask four questions:

  • What is the Islamist movement -- and what is its political strength?
  • What is the role of fighting groups in a broader Islamist movement?
  • What is the historical trajectory of the Islamist movement?
  • What is the role of the United States in this prospective big change?

What follows then is a suggestion of how we might go about thinking through these questions, if not actually "answering" them. Think of it as a critical hypothesis to be tested.

What is the Islamist movement -- and what is its political strength?

Universalism vs. Particularism

Is Islamism a truly Pan-Muslim movement, or is it more of a country-by-county phenomenon? There has always been a tension within the Islamic World between its universal mission and the particular needs and identities of local societies. Therefore is an Islamic renovatio still of world-historical importance if it emerges in pieces, or will it be of significance to us only if it assumes some kind of coordinated coherence?

Islamist movements do seem wrapped up in their own national societies: Turkey, Algeria, Iran, Egypt, etc. Yet some also maintain extravagant missions, like Iran in Lebanon. Certainly there is a lot of talk of Pan Muslim fraternity, and both Shi'a and Sunni networks of religious authority form an intricate establishment of mullahs and imams. Islamists have no comparable establishment but nonetheless still have strong networks of interconnection. We see these mostly in terms of radical Islamism.

The Saudi Wahhabist mission is perhaps the best-known example of Pan-Islamist activity, and yet it has proceeded paradoxically from one of the most corrupt and tyrannical of all Muslim regimes. Part of the paradox is perhaps explained by the Kingdom's desire to export its own radicals, which would have the double effect of increasing Saudi prestige across the Muslim World while at the same time physically removing potential threats to Saudi authority at home.5

The impact of the Wahhabist world mission seems to have gone beyond efforts to orchestrate other parts of the Muslim World through its own brand of radicalism. Rather, it has seeded that world with new local movements, from Indonesia to Pakistan to Bosnia, and helped to radicalize others, as in Algeria.

Likewise, a single group like al Qaeda, itself originally a Saudi-supported enterprise, has served to encourage the development of many local groups. To some extent this suggests an active and growing Pan-Islamist consciousness, at least among radical Islamists.

Failure of the radical Islamists -- a failure of ideology over religiosity

But the radical networks, which Americans have focused on exclusively since 9-11, may well represent a failed Pan Islamist movement. The radicals failed in two ways: they either failed to win, or where they did win, they failed to lead.

In 1979, revolution in Iran raised the promise of a wave of popular Islamist uprisings. These uprisings occurred, in Algeria, in Syria, and in Egypt. In each place they failed. Repressive Arab regimes, learning quickly from the weakness and irresolution of the Shah, spared nothing to beat back their own Islamist challenges. Syria's dictator, Hafez al-Assad, thought nothing of slaughtering tens of thousands in Hama. More even have died in Algeria's civil war, which continues to this day. But among Islam's core societies, the Iranian example has not been replicated.

Where Islamist radicals have insinuated themselves, often through Wahhabist Saudi support, they have managed to create agitating minority fortresses across the Muslim World, yet at the same time they have alienated the larger societies in which they operate. This outcome may express in part what Geneive Abdo calls a failure of ideology over religiosity. This failure can be seen most visibly in Iran.

In Iran the revolution slowly lost the fervent support, and then even the loyalty of its own people. Islam can perhaps best be understood -- in contrast to religious life in the modern West -- as a complete "blueprint for life." Thus its success both for the individual and society depends on inner motivation and collective participation. The Islamic Republic of Iran, Abdo argues, reduced Islam to mere ideology, a set of rules enforced from above by the state. Rather than a way of life shared by all, and defended by all, Islam became just another recipe for state tyranny.

Thus radical Islam failed to take formal control in the Muslim World; and where it did, including places like Afghanistan, it failed effectively to lead. Thus commentators like Judith Miller declared Islamism in steep decline at century's end.

The political power of piety

But there was another quieter brand of Islamist making real headway at the same time. These are non-violent Islamists, what some call "moderate Islamists," but whose beliefs and goals might be better served by Raymond Baker's term, "New Islamists." The success of the New Islamist movement in Egypt suggests a strong alternative path -- for an Islamic renovatio achieved without violent struggle. This path may be important now more than ever, given the failure of radical Islamist struggles.

Egypt is important because it represents the heart of the Arab-Sunni World. It is also at the core of Islamism. Radical Islamists attempted to overthrow the regime in the 1990s and were contained. But Islamist thinkers -- like Qtub -- who themselves were non-violent were also imprisoned and even executed, as though they were radical fighters.

Yet Islamists in Egypt have still managed to bring the rest of society to their vision. Even if the corrupt Mubarak regime still rules, the heart of the people is with the Islamists. The regime acknowledges this in its genuflection to the Islamist message.

But one of the most telling aspects of this evolution in Egyptian society is not so much that the New Islamists succeeded where the radicals had failed, but rather that both the radicals and the state unconsciously conspired to solidify and legitimate the New Islamists. On one hand, the radicals alienated Muslim society through the viciousness of their violence, which at the same time exposed their inability to topple the state. But the state, for its part, showed itself to be incapable of addressing the urgent needs of society that had given the radicals their authority -- among the people -- to make change in the first place.6

This is a prevailing theme in Islamic tradition, and one apropos to the possibility of Islamism as a world-historical movement. The state in Islam traditionally was never vested with the responsibility for regulating and sustaining civil society. Rather, Islam itself through the Ulama took on that role. In Egypt today it is the New Islamists that have come to represent the leadership of society.

In contrast to Iran, this is an Islamic revolution from the bottom up and achieved without violent insurgency. The New Islamists may not yet wield formal political power, but their aims certainly follow that trajectory. Similarly, New Islamists in Turkey have gone even further. Their strength has grown unexpectedly in places like Malaysia where a religious state was thought impossible.7 It has resurfaced, with official acquiescence, in places like Syria where it had formerly been all but wiped out.8 Piety it seems has a more enduring political pull than violent action.

But these precedents beg the question: Are New Islamists as in Egypt or Turkey the simple template for future change in the Muslim World? What role will the many still-vibrant and active militant groups play in unfolding historical change?

What is the role of fighting groups in a broader Islamist movement?

An enshrined tradition of independent and violent action

How can fighter groups -- what we call terrorists -- even pretend to represent all Muslims, especially in the wake of repeated failures?

Such self-organized and self-initiated fighting groups seem criminal and illegitimate to us because we inhabit a world where all defense activity in society is regulated by the nation state. In Islamic tradition however it is incumbent on every individual Muslim to stand up for the whole. Each Muslim thus has equal standing and authority to stand up for what is right, and against what is wrong. Its history is full of myth and stories of passionate, if doomed protests -- both armed and unarmed -- against political authority that strays from the right path.9

Hence the proliferation of radical fighting groups since the emergence of the Islamist movement in the 1970s. Each of them believes, according to tradition, that they have the authority, even the obligation to defend Islam and its Ummah. They thus have a very special niche role to play in History. Arguably they are playing out this role today.

This role has three parts. The first is to establish the dramatic narrative and give it force and authority. Thus, for example, 9-11 became an instant clarion call for defense of the Ummah and the casting out of apostate regimes. Its symbolic and theatrical power did not achieve material objectives but rather instilled a collective belief that deliverance was at hand; that the narrative of History was moving forward to a resolution. Call this a form of legitimating expectation.

The second is to actually do the fighting. Even though marginal to the life of Muslim societies, the radicals nonetheless were -- and are -- engaged in a struggle for the whole. This struggle has three fronts: that against the invader, meaning the United States; that against the occupier, meaning Israel; and that against the apostate regimes, meaning Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc.

The third part the radicals play is in actually advancing History through their actions. Thus 9-11 led to a formal US invasion of the Muslim World. Radicals rejoice in this, believing that it will lead inevitably to Muslim mobilization against the invader, with the militants as natural leaders. Ordinary Muslims may not be quite so enthusiastic, but nonetheless they have since 9-11 consistently asserted their solidarity within a larger cause.

Informal support for violent action

Arab and Pakistani support for the cause was strong after 9-11 -- support for Osama bin Laden was as high as 95% among Saudi men -- even while other major Muslim societies like Indonesia were sympathetic to America.10

The US invasion of Iraq tended to solidify opinion across the Muslim World against the US. Favorable attitudes dropped in Indonesia from 61% to 15%, 52% to 15% in Turkey, and 25% to 1% in Jordan.11

Recent surveys show that support for militant action is also strong. Suicide bombing, for example, is strongly supported among Arab societies, 74% among Moroccans, and 86% among Jordanians.12

Thus we can say that fighter groups play both a symbolic and practical role within the Muslim imagination. What is less visible, and perhaps not well understood, is the interrelationship between fighter groups and broader Muslim civil society.

Beyond Protestation

Do non-violent Islamists support the activities of radicals? There is plenty of indication that there is intense interaction between the fighting groups themselves; for example, in the recent Waziristan operation, the Pakistani Army found itself attacking Uzbek, Chechen, and Uighur fighters from Xinjiang, China!13

The more urgent question is the level of interconnection and mutual support between Islamist Ulama and their followers -- and fighter groups. In Pakistan, for example, 20,000 Madrassas and many radical Ulama are both training ground and broad logistical support for fighter groups. Support extends to the army itself, with much of the officer corps reportedly Islamist.

But in many Muslim societies, especially where radicals have been either eradicated -- like Syria -- or beaten down and discredited -- like Egypt -- moderate Islamists pursue a course of quiet revolution from below. They remain true to their goal of restoration, but the question remains, still unanswered: Are non-violent Islamists nonetheless actively supporting Pan-Islamic fighting operations?14 Would such support become more visible and publicly legitimated if New Islamists, say, came to power in Egypt or Malaysia or __?

Islamism is still a movement everywhere nascent. This means that at the moment the role that the fighting plays is one of sustaining a sense of growing historical possibility. It elevates Muslim morale. Thus even if these groups are disconnected from non-violent Islamists they are still an organic part of the movement.

What comes across strongly is that, taken together across the Muslim World, Islamists represent a movement without visible coalescence that is nonetheless a deeply interconnected phenomenon.

What is the historical trajectory of the Islamist movement?

"Historical trajectory" is an elusive idea. It is difficult because none of us has a capacity to define such a coherent momentum in advance of its announcement, which in itself cannot be comprehended until a final realization. Thus, if Islamist renovatio is to succeed historically, its debut, even its strenuous early activity, is incapable of telling us what all this activity will realize, if anything, in the future.

But as a hypothetical excursion, let us say that Islamism -- the prospect of an Islamic renovatio -- is assured. If this, then, represents the future to be, what would that tell us about what we are experiencing today?

Looking back it would suggest that what is happening today -- including the specter of terrorism -- is part of an unfolding grand narrative. Of course this is not a story that anyone in the West can accept. It is however exactly what Muslims everywhere -- whether or not they support radical violence -- look to as the future. The compelling question for us: who is right?

Even if this war comes to form a "grand narrative" its outcome will undoubtedly in the end please no one. Yet it may be useful to posit a grand narrative, in the sense of a big historical story full of upheaval and change. After all there are some well-known examples of historical big change, full of people and ideas in conflict.

There is in fact a favorite comparison already: the Protestant Reformation. "Islam has not yet had its Reformation," we all declare. The Economist captures this sense of History's lessons at work quite nicely. Its editors, commenting on their 1994 survey of Islam wondered whether

... the anger and disillusionment that seemed to be sweeping through the world of Islam in the 1990s might turn in a more benign direction. Was it not similar to the disillusionment that began to sweep through Christendom in the 16th century, which led via the Reformation to the development of modern democracy?15

Of course this comparison suggests that big change in Islam is only beginning. And also, it elides the fact that the good changes -- like modern democracy -- came only after a century and more of bitter war. A third of Germany died in the Thirty Year's War.

But the Reformation and the conflict it spawned may tell us something about this grand narrative in the making -- simply by encouraging us to think about these as big change times. What do big change times have in common? Here are six.

- Big change takes a long time, and covers a lot of space. The period from Luther's first rebellious act to the Treaty of Westphalia spans 130 years. The struggle at one time or another pulled in most of Western Christendom. But the struggle was made up of many local conflicts. There was never, especially among the Protestant cause, a single group of decision makers. In other words, that long period we call the Protestant Reformation was messy, disaggregated, and civilization-wide. Western Christendom in those times bears a striking resemblance indeed to the Muslim World today.

Today American leaders talk about a war of generations; perhaps, even, a "hundred year's war."16 The Islamist cause and its struggles certainly encompass an entire civilization. There is time and space enough for grand narrative -- and History's big change.

- Violent repression encourages rebellion, and elevates insurgency. Repression works, but in mutually opposing ways. Killing an insurgent leadership, and frightening its social base of support through random decimation, can beat down a rebellious movement. But it can also create a stronger movement. The Catholic Counter-Reformation was brutally effective in some places -- not unlike Syria's slaughter of its own Islamists -- but in other places it pushed restive societies like Holland into open insurgency.

Successful repressions in the Muslim World -- most notably in Algeria, Syria, and Egypt -- have not eradicated Islamism. Insurgency continues in Algeria. Islamists have made a surprising comeback in Syria. While in Egypt, as Geneive Abdo relates: "today's anti-Islamist campaign helped turn many on campus against the authorities, fuelling the very religious revival it was meant to suppress."17

Repression is delaying change, forcing Islamists underground, or encouraging them to find ways, as the Egyptian example shows, to survive and be successful. It is in this context that local struggles draw strength from, and can be influenced by, developments in the larger Muslim zeitgeist.

- Violent conflict is not the change, but rather an expression of its arrival. If the Jihadi "terrorists" play their role as sustainers of the power and the glory of the narrative, they remain neither its creator nor even its central substance. It is true that fighter groups have their own radical vision of the future, the driving expectations that they would fulfil. But the broader vision of change sought by Islamists, which so many Muslims have embraced as necessary, is being realized as it were on the ground, in small and everyday ways that do not register on the radar of big events. It is exactly this level of micro-historical change that we in the West are likely to miss entirely.

Likewise in Reformation Europe the change occurred congregation-by-congregation, parish-by-parish. The myriad fighting groups, the rebel princes, the shifting allegiances, the political betrayals and endless fighting all spoke to a larger narrative of change that could only be understood in terms of the stakes and possibilities of each moment. No single or corporate actor on the political scene ever encompassed the larger course of events. They each ruthlessly pursued their immediate agendas, and their smaller stories somehow came together into the bigger one. We can only suspect that it will be no different for us and for the Islamists.

- In the fullness of the narrative, success can be failure, and failure, success. We say that we seek to bring to Islam the benefits of democracy, as though it were the only "truth," forgetting that democracy in the West arose precisely because the Reformation failed to replace a corrupt truth -- the Roman Catholic system -- with a new "truth" -- a single Protestant religious conformity. As William McNeil wrote, "It was the failure of Europeans to agree upon the truths of religion, within as well as across state boundaries, that opened the door to secularism and modern science."18

Thus puritanical (or fundamentalist or radical) Islamism may succeed even if, or perhaps even because it is defeated. It will succeed if it opens up space for creative change within Islam, and if it prevents the imposition of Western values on the Muslim World. Likewise, American success in the mid-term in bringing democratic change to Islam may in fact be the catalyst for renewed resistance -- and resistance not confined simply to radical groups, but a universal rising against us. It was after all Hapsburg-Catholic success in the Counter-Reformation that ultimately forced the new Protestant North to come together, that brought conflict to a head and insured the survival of the very cause it sought so strenuously to eradicate.

- External intervention can encourage change but not control it. The West has already inspired and suppressed Muslim insurgencies three times. First they defeated the cause of reform and Arab self-rule by overthrowing Muhammad Ali, thus preserving Ottoman tyranny. Second, when the Ottoman Empire no longer served their purpose, they divvied it up as spoils, and inspired a struggle against European colonial rule. When the Europeans finally left, a new tyranny based on Western models took charge -- hence the charge: "neo-colonialism." It was out of the failure of these rulers that the Islamist insurgency emerged.

Thus the West has truly helped to "disorder" the Muslim World, giving and then taking away several times in the past 180 years. The Islamist insurgency is built on a prolonged legacy of disastrous, if not always conscious, interventions by non-Muslims into their world. We should be wary in trying to impose our own cultural "truth" on peoples highly disposed to resist us; and furthermore, who are so disposed to resist simply because of who we are and what we represent.

Moreover, what we offer -- or insist upon -- is essentially a new conformity, which is even less congenial to what is now a highly volatile and diverse cultural environment. Furthermore, we surely believe that what we offer is not merely a successful model but the only successful model for human society. But to Islamists it remains an alien and unacceptable cultural solution. This structural-cultural dissonance alone might indicate that our apparent initial success could over historical time presage ultimate failure.

- In the end what we get will be both messy and divisive. If we can even fairly posit an historical "outcome" -- a lá Westphalia in 1648 for the Reformation -- then we must accept as well both its likely muddiness and clarity. It is only natural that the participants have only clear expectations, and an insistence on clarity can be maintained for as long as its realization is still a possibility. But ultimately a future reality will emerge -- whatever the actual course of big change -- that will in contrast represent something mixed and unsatisfying. There may for example be a big loser, but even the loser will have achieved something. And the winners may also feel less than triumphant.

Thus, even the Catholic cause, apparently defeated in its struggle with the Protestant North, managed to reclaim and hold on to the South: "The cause of medieval empire was indeed utterly lost ... but the papacy and Catholicism made a spectacular comeback from the religious slackness and political weakness of the early 16th century, thanks very largely to Spanish religiosity and to Spanish policy."19 And you thought that Spain was the big loser in the Reformation and Thirty Year's War!

The only real "achievement" of that bloody era was to divide Europe and destroy forever the medieval ideal of imperial unity coterminous with a Church Universal. But it was precisely that outcome that laid the groundwork for Western pluralism and ultimately, of our contemporary ideal of Democracy Universal. Again, as McNeill said of the Protestant outcome: "The difficulty of establishing consensus on a biblical basis tended therefore to widen the areas of tolerance within Protestant states."20

Thus the United States should be wary about whether it can ultimately achieve its stated war aim -- the establishment of a democratic consensus among Muslim states. But it should also beware the long-term historical impact of its intervention in the Muslim World. Historical comparison might indicate that the likely "best outcome" for Muslims and Islam will be both messy and divisive. But it also is most likely to be driven -- and in ways we might not altogether relish -- by American actions.

What is the role of the United States in this prospective big change?

The model of world-historical Islamism is a hypothesis. Perhaps future reality will be very different. Perhaps the Islamist challenge will subside, country-by-county. New Islamists will make their peace with entrenched regimes, while radical Jihadists are hunted down, at the last losing heart in the struggle.

But if in contrast the Islamist trajectory continues, in its elusive intertwining of violent and non-violent forms, then America's intervention in the Muslim World will become increasingly wrapped up in Islamist issues. The decisive factor in the Muslim future will in fact be the relationship between the United States and Islamism.

The US is critically shaping this relationship:

By supporting corrupt regimes

By occupying the heart of Islam

By missing the meaning of the broader Islamist movement

The first of these has been longstanding US policy, and might be understood by New Islamists as necessary realism. The US is a status quo power, and furthermore has had little interest in Muslim politics -- especially political movements that threaten that status quo.

New Islamists might accept even the second of these as long as the US fulfils its promise of an appropriate withdrawal from Iraq. There is a sort of "wait and see" quality to the patience of Iraqi Shi'a, and the absence of general Muslim protests over US occupation.

It is the third of these that threatens to lay the groundwork for a conflicted relationship between the US and Islamists. If US war aims seek to create a democratic consensus in the Muslim World, there is little room in this vision even for the New Islamist. The current US paradigm of democracy demands the creation of a secular civil society in the American manner. There is absolutely no room in US Iraq planning for an Islamic Republic, even along the relatively tolerant and pluralistic lines of New Islamist thought.

Furthermore, current US policy seems unaware that its secular democratic paradigm is unacceptable to Islamists. To them it represents a form of religious conversion and threatens the very possibility of achieving a "rightly guided" Islamic way of life in Muslim societies. To the contrary, American policymakers and strategists tend to see all Islamists as unreconstructed medieval men. What is missing is an ability to properly differentiate between fiery radicals and very much more thoughtful New Islamists.

Thus threatened by its own fears of a Muslim renovatio, US support of corrupt regimes and continuing US military occupation in the heart of Islam could harden and become entrenched in the face of Islamist demand. If Egypt, for example, were to move toward Islamist governance; if a Saudi coming apart or regime change led to popular Islamist solutions; if a Shi'a Islamic republic is declared in post-occupation Iraq: the US is unready to meet such developments openly.

An America that continues to decry Islamist hopes, even those of non-violent New Islamists, could lead History in the direction of another severe, long-term adversary relationship in world affairs.


2 "Radical in their ultimate commitments, the New Islamists do not waver in the pacific gradualism of their means." Raymond William Baker, Islam Without Fear: Egypt and the New Islamists, Harvard, 2003.

3 Hegel is famous for this term, but its use here is determinedly non-deterministic!

4 Attacks on America and Europe have been a complex extension of what is ultimately a struggle within Islam.

5 The paradox and contradictions of the Saudi Wahhabist mission are fully detailed in Stephen Schwartz, The Two Faces of Islam: Saudi Fundamentalism and Its Role in Terrorism, Anchor, 2003.

6 Baker, 205.

7 Ioannis Gatsiounis, "Malaysian party stresses Islamic credentials: Intention to use strict version of Shariah law has broad appeal," The Washington Times, March 20, 2004.

8 Neil MacFarquhar, "Syria, Long Ruthlessly Secular, Sees Fervent Islamic Resurgence, The New York Times, October 24, 2003.

9 Michael Cook, Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong in Islamic Thought, Cambridge, 2001.

10 Reported in Elaine Sciolino, "Don't Weaken Arafat, Saudi Warns Bush," The New York Times, January 27, 2002.

11 Reported in "They're reluctantly shifting their ground," The Economist, October 23, 2003.

12 "A Year After Iraq War: Mistrust of America in Europe Even Higher, Muslim Anger Persists," The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, March 16, 2004.

13 "Bin Laden deputy may not be trapped," Associated Press, March 21, 2004.

14 There is a recent instance raising this question. Tariq Ramadan is perhaps the most celebrated moderate Islamist in Europe today, but there have been some vocal concerns raised about his possible radical connections -- and the possibly radical underpinnings of his religious interpretations. See:

15 "In the name of God: A survey of Islam and the West," The Economist, September 13, 2003.

16 From presentations by James Woolsey and William Cohen at "Counter proliferation at Ten: Transforming the Fight Against Weapons of Mass Destruction," hosted by The USAF Counter proliferation Center and The Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Hilton Alexandria Mark Center, 8-9 December, 2003.

17 Geneive Abdo, No God But God: Egypt and the Triumph of Islam, Oxford, 2000, 115.

18 William H. McNeill, The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community, Chicago, 1963, 588.

19 McNeill, 580.

20 McNeill, 590.