Building Moderate Muslim Networks

Building Moderate Muslim Networks

Angel Rabasa
Cheryl Benard
Lowell H. Schwartz
Peter Sickle
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Building Moderate Muslim Networks
    Book Description:

    Radical and dogmatic interpretations of Islam have gained ground in recent years in many Muslim societies via extensive Islamist networks spanning the Muslim world and the Muslim diaspora communities of North America and Europe. Although a majority throughout the Muslim world, moderates have not developed similar networks to amplify their message and to provide protection from violence and intimidation. With considerable experience fostering networks of people committed to free and democratic ideas during the Cold War, the United States has a critical role to play in leveling the playing field for Muslim moderates. The authors derive lessons from the U.S. and allied Cold War network-building experience, determine their applicability to the current situation in the Muslim world, assess the effectiveness of U.S. government programs of engagement with the Muslim world, and develop a Â"road mapÂ" to foster the construction of moderate Muslim networks.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4267-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Figure and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Summary
    (pp. xi-xxiv)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxv-xxviii)
  7. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxix-xxxii)
  8. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    Radical and dogmatic interpretations of Islam have gained ground in recent years in many Muslim societies. While there are many reasons for this, and while a large and growing body of literature continues to be engaged in exploring them, a case can be made that structural reasons play a large part. The prevalence of authoritarian political structures in Muslim, and especially Arab, societies and the atrophy of civil-society institutions throughout much of the Muslim world have left the mosque as one of the few avenues for the expression of popular dissatisfaction with prevailing political, economic, and social conditions. In the...

  9. CHAPTER TWO The Cold War Experience
    (pp. 7-34)

    The propaganda and cultural-infiltration efforts of the United States and Britain during the early years of the Cold War hold valuable lessons for the Global War on Terrorism. At the onset of the Cold War, the Soviet Union could count on the allegiance not only of strong Communist parties in Western Europe (some of which were the largest and best-organized parties in their respective countries and appeared to be poised on the verge of coming to power through democratic means) but also of a plethora of organizations—labor unions, youth and student organizations, and journalists’ associations—that gave Soviet-backed elements...

  10. CHAPTER THREE Parallels Between the Cold War and the Challenges in the Muslim World Today
    (pp. 35-40)

    Three broad parallels stand out between the Cold War environment and the challenges that the United States and the West face in the Muslim world today. First, as in the late 1940s, the United States is currently confronted with a new and confusing geopolitical environment with new security threats. During the 1940s, the threat came from the Soviet Union and was compounded by the devastating potential of attacks with nuclear weapons. A rival superpower, the Soviet Union supported and was supported by client states and an international movement driven by an inimical ideology, a movement that assisted the Soviet Union...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR U.S. Government Efforts to Stem the Radical Tide
    (pp. 41-64)

    The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, served as a catalyst for a reassessment and readjustment of U.S. national-security programs. Initially, a great deal of resources and attention were devoted to the physical security of American citizens and territory. Consequent government spending increases and organizational restructuring were designed to bolster the capacity and effectiveness of U.S. military, intelligence, and law enforcement activities. This eventually resulted in the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security and fundamental changes to the intelligence community.

    At the same time, with the recognition that combating terrorism was not only a matter of bringing terrorists to...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE Road Map for Moderate Network Building in the Muslim World
    (pp. 65-90)

    A critical part of U.S. network-building efforts, as well as in its broader public diplomacy and strategic communications policy, is identifying key partners and audiences. Difficulties in distinguishing potential allies from adversaries present a major problem to Western governments and organizations attempting to organize support for moderate Muslims. Work done by the RAND Corporation—in Cheryl Benard’sCivil Democratic Islamand Angel Rabasa et al.,The Muslim World After 9/11—has begun to lay the framework for identifying ideological tendencies in the Muslim world,¹ which is necessary in order to identify the sectors with which the United States and its...

  13. CHAPTER SIX The European Pillar of the Network
    (pp. 91-104)

    Europe is home to the world’s largest Muslim diaspora community. As a conservative estimate, there are at least 15 million Muslims in Western Europe, with some sources estimating higher numbers still. The largest Muslim concentrations are in France, with between four and six million Muslims, mostly of North African origin; Germany, with over three million, the majority of Turkish ancestry; the United Kingdom, with one and a half million Muslims, predominantly of Southeast Asian origin; Spain, with possibly as many as one million, largely from North Africa; and the Netherlands, with an estimated 920,000, mostly of Turkish and Moroccan origin.¹...

  14. CHAPTER SEVEN The Southeast Asian Pillar of the Network
    (pp. 105-112)

    Network-building efforts in Southeast Asia should incorporate NGO work with the moderate traditionalist Indonesian organization Nahdlatul Ulama, with its 15,000 affiliatedpesantren, and with the modernist organization Muhammadiyah and its network of higher education and social welfare institutions. Both Islamist and liberal sectors coexist in Muhammadiyah: Islamist elements can be found in the organization’s Religious Council, which is charged withda’wa, while liberals have a home in the Center for the Study of Religion and Democracy, established to promote a liberal agenda within and outside the organization.

    The most unabashedly liberal Muslim organization in Indonesia (and perhaps in all of...

  15. CHAPTER EIGHT The Middle East Component
    (pp. 113-120)

    The principal obstacle to the building of moderate Muslim networks in the Middle East is the lack of extant, widespread liberal movements to network; only small groups and scattered individuals exist there today. According to Muslim liberals in the Middle East, winning the battle for Islam requires the creation of liberal groups “to retrieve Islam from hijackers.”¹ There was a certain amount of political pluralism under the Egyptian and Iraqi monarchies, but that was crushed by the military regimes that followed their overthrow in the 1950s. In Egypt, there is the form, but not the substance, of parliamentary government (and...

  16. CHAPTER NINE Secular Muslims: A Forgotten Dimension in the War of Ideas
    (pp. 121-138)

    When Western experts discuss the ongoing war of ideas in the Islamic world—the ideological struggle between Islamism and proponents of modernity and moderation—they tend to assume that secular Muslims are not serious contenders. This stems from a widespread belief that Muslim society is too deeply shaped by religion to be amenable to a purely secular philosophy at this time, and, further, that the relationship between religion and politics in Islam is so inherently different from that in the West that the ideas of the separation of church and state and of faith as a private and individual matter...

  17. CHAPTER TEN Conclusions and Recommendations
    (pp. 139-146)

    The network-building activities of the United States and Britain during the Cold War provide a number of valuable lessons for today’s struggle with radical Islam. This is true at both the strategic and the tactical level, despite the important differences between the two eras outlined in Chapter Three.

    On the strategic level, the United States understood at the beginning of the Cold War that network building was a vital part of its overall strategy. Substantial resources were devoted to funding a host of organizations that could compete with Communist-dominated organizations in Western Europe and the Third World. Policymakers also understood...

  18. APPENDIX A U.S. Foreign Assistance Framework
    (pp. 147-148)
  19. APPENDIX B Documents
    (pp. 149-170)
  20. References
    (pp. 171-184)