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A Necessary Engagement

A Necessary Engagement: Reinventing America's Relations with the Muslim World

Emile A. Nakhleh
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 184
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  • Book Info
    A Necessary Engagement
    Book Description:

    InA Necessary Engagement, the CIA's former point man on Islam makes a vigorous case for a renewal of American public diplomacy in the Muslim world. Offering a unique balance between in-depth analysis, personal memoir, and foreign policy remedies, the book injects much-needed wisdom into the public discussion of long-term U.S.-Muslim relations.

    Intelligence insider Emile Nakhleh argues that an engagement with the Muslim world benefits the national interest of the United States. Therefore, the next administration should discard the terrorism prism through which the country has viewed political Islam since 9/11 and focus instead on the common interests of America and mainstream Muslims. Nakhleh investigates recent U.S. policy toward Islamic nations and offers the new administration a ten-point plan for rebuilding America's relationship with the Muslim world. The author demonstrates that winning over Arabs and Muslims requires a thorough knowledge of Arab and Muslim cultures and languages within our intelligence community, as well as a long-term American commitment of personnel and resources. While the success of these efforts will be incremental and hard to measure, Nakhleh believes that the current low standing of the United States in most Arab and Muslim countries can be reversed.

    Stressing that effective public diplomacy must be a serious, coordinated effort pursued at the highest political levels,A Necessary Engagementcharts a new course for future ties between the United States and the Islamic world.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2998-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xxii)

    My experiences at the Central Intelligence Agency and within the corridors of power in the nation’s capital as director and senior analyst of political Islam and often solo briefer to senior policymakers on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue confirmed my suspicions that our government lacks deep knowledge of the Islamic world and of the diverse ways Muslims understand their faith, their relations with each other, and their vision of, and attitudes toward, the non-Muslim world. According to media reports and public opinion polls, many Muslims believe that the U.S. government continues to view the Islamic world through the prism of...

    (pp. 1-36)

    On my visits to Muslim countries, which in the business are known as TDYs or temporary duty visits, I entered numerous mosques (my colleagues used to joke that my TDYs involved “mosque hopping” or “mosque crashing”) and spoke to dozens of imams and ‘ulama(religious scholars). My Muslim interlocutors in these countries included ordinary people, mainstream thinkers, writers, journalists, and academics, political party activists, NGO officials, “establishment” (mostly adhering to the government line) and nonestablishment clerics, pro-democracy advocates, radical thinkers and jihadists, businessmen, restaurateurs, taxi drivers, farmers, and booksellers. During these visits, I also met government officials and interacted with...

    (pp. 37-70)

    In the past two decades, the Intelligence Community, especially the Central Intelligence Agency, has analyzed and reported on rising trends in political Islam and Islamic radicalism and the potential challenges they could pose to the United States. The CIA, especially its Directorate of Intelligence, began to dedicate resources and personnel to the development of substantive expertise in political Islam and to brief policymakers regularly and frequently on this phenomenon. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, policymakers for the most part did not pay much attention to rising Islamic activism, but after September 11, 2001, they came to view Islamic...

    (pp. 71-100)

    Many public opinion polls and press reports have indicated that American public diplomacy in the Muslim world since September 11, 2001, has failed to reach out to Muslims and convince them that the so-called global war on terror is not a war against Islam. According to a variety of public opinion polls (Pew, Gallup, State Department, BBC, University of Maryland, Zogby, etc.), American standing, prestige, likeability, and trust in the past half decade have been rated very low, and although these high unfavorability ratings vary among Muslim countries, the overall trend has been negative throughout the Muslim world. Furthermore, the...

    (pp. 101-139)

    Numerous government and private-sector reports and speeches in the past six years have argued that American public diplomacy in the Islamic World needs to be revamped. These reports, together with polling data cited in the previous chapter, have also urged that a new and a more effective public policy approach be taken toward the Muslim world. This subject was briefed on numerous occasions to the executive and legislative branches of the government and to the Commission of the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction (otherwise known as the WMD Commission). Right after 9/11 the author...

  9. Conclusion LOOKING AHEAD
    (pp. 140-144)

    Research for this book has shown that America’s low standing in Muslim countries can be turned around. Public opinion data and numerous government and think tank reports in recent years also indicate that majorities of Muslims generally support good governance, seek to participate in the political process through open and free elections, and are committed to gradual, evolutionary change. They do not clash with the United States over ideas or values but over policies and would respond positively to a change in these policies. The public diplomacy blueprint offered in this book is a way forward, not a look backward....

    (pp. 145-146)
    (pp. 147-150)
    (pp. 151-154)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 155-162)