Engaging the Muslim World
Monday, April 23, 2012
Author: Juan Cole
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; Rev Upd edition (September 14, 2010)
Engaging the Muslim World (ISBN 0230607543) is a 2009 non-fiction book about the relationship between the United States and the Arab and Muslim worlds written by University of Michigan historian Juan Cole. His goal in writing the book was to illustrate the true Muslim perspective towards the U.S. and explain why that has developed. The book recommends full engagement and diplomacy with all forms of Islam and criticizes the policy of preemptive military action, arguing that it should be only used as a last resort. The book blasts what it calls the Bush administration's "Islamophobic discourse".
Western society is suffering from Islam Anxiety—the product of fear-mongering and misinformation. There is a desperate need to debunk the myths concerning Islam in order to improve the political and ideological understanding between Muslim countries and their Western counterparts. Juan Cole, already celebrated for his rejection of stereotypes and his insistence on taking all perspectives into account, carefully sorts through and addresses all the major issues in Western - Muslim relations, including: terrorism, gas and petroleum dependence on the volatile Oil Gulf, the uncertainties of the Iraq War, and the little-understood regimes in Iran and Saudi Arabia.
With clear-eyed determination, Cole separates spin from fact, providing substantive recommendations for the next administration on how to engage with key countries such as Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran. Finally, Cole reveals how we can repair the damage of the disastrous foreign policy of the last eight years and forge ahead on a path of peace and prosperity.
*Al-Qaeda is not a mass movement like fascism or communism but rather a small political cult like the American far right circles that produced Timothy McVeigh.
*The Muslim world is not a new Soviet Bloc but rather is full of close allies or potential allies.
*There can be no such thing as American energy independence, we will need Islamic oil to survive as a superpower into the next century.
*Iran is not an implacable enemy of the U.S.--it can and should be fruitfully engaged, which is a necessary step for American energy security since Tehran can play the spoiler in the strategic Persian Gulf.
*America's best hope in Iraq is careful, deliberate military disengagement, rather than either through immediate withdrawal or a century-long military presence--in other words, both the Democrat and Republican presidential candidates are wrong.
From Publishers Weekly
University of Michigan history professor and blogger Cole (Sacred Space and Holy War) takes aim at the Bush administration's Islamophobic discourse, highlighting that some of the very people who promulgated the phobia (Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld) once sang a different tune. He calls instead for evenhanded and pragmatic policy changes, not least a reckoning with the heterogeneity of the Muslim world. Yet for all his expertise, Cole fails to source some of his harshest accusations; moreover, for a scholar championing greater subtlety of thought, he too often discards nuance himself. To the extent that Cole argues against painting the Middle East with overly broad strokes, he brings a constructive addition to public discourse; his failure to be consistent is a lost opportunity.
"Cole has delivered an important book that members of the administration would be wise to read en route to the Middle East."--The American Prospect
"[A] balanced and effective antidote to oversimplified Western views of Islam. . . . manages to prick western misconceptions without taking extremist movements entirely at their own estimation." --The Economist
"[Cole] brings a constructive addition to public discourse." --Publishers Weekly
"Intelligent, clear and erudite. This is a timely and incisive retrospective of the Bush administration's calamitous encounter with the Muslim World by one of the most noted scholars of the subject. Cole looks deep into what went wrong to show the way forward to a new engagement of the Muslim World."--Vali Nasr, bestselling author of The Shia Revival: How Conflicts Within Islam Will Shape the Future
"Juan Cole, distinguished specialist on the Muslim world, delivers his most comprehensive and erudite commentary to date -- covering imperialism, the Arab-Israeli conflict, American oil politics, radical Islam and Middle Eastern terrorism. Engaging the Muslim World is the book every educated American should read."--Chalmers Johnson, bestselling author of Nemesis and The Blowback Trilogy
"Engaging the Muslim World is a MUST read, the right book at the right time for anyone who wants to understand 'What went wrong, why, and where do we go from here.' Juan Cole is uniquely qualified to provide a critical, incisive, provocative analysis and commentary that will be welcomed by experts, policymakers and concerned citizens."--John L. Esposito, Professor of religion & International Affairs, Georgetown University and bestselling author of Who Speaks for Islam? and What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam
"Cole provides a comprehensive alternative analysis of the current situation in the Muslim world and reveals how new U.S. policies might succeed in bringing peace where wars now rage. He proves the key role of oil interests in American foreign policy and demonstrates how incorrect or exaggerated ideas now prevalent in the U.S. are about the intrinsic militancy of Islam, and the aggressiveness of Iran. Everyone should read and ponder the facts he presents and the solutions he proposes."--Nikki Keddie, Professor Emerita of History, UCLA and author of Modern Iran and Women in the Middle East
"Juan Cole's depth and breath of knowledge on the Middle East has made him the most prescient analyst of the region's politics. It might infuriate the neocons who are proven wrong again and again, but Cole's insight is invaluable to anyone interested in the truth."-- Markos Moulitsas, DailyKos
"A well-reasoned, useful vision for Western-Muslim relations."--Kirkus
"A leading American expert on the Islamic world, seeks to dispel many of the persistent myths about Islam and the Middle East. Cole convincingly demonstrates why one should not confuse Muslim activism with hidebound fundamentalism. The chapter dealing with Iran is particularly informative and evenhanded, and the analysis of myriad issues in U.S.-Iran relations is a welcome antidote to the barrage of alarmist commentaries on Iran in much of the U.S. press. This readable and intelligent book is a must read for policymakers and the informed public.--Library Journal, starred review
“Juan Cole’s ‘Engaging the Muslim World’ maps those fault lines, and one can only wish Bush had mulled over such material before the misadventures of the post-9/11 era began. Like Lawrence Wright’s remarkable ‘Looming Tower’, published almost three years ago, this field guide to the politics of modern Islam traces the history of the different movements, whose violent offshoots are still morphing into new forms.” --New York Times Book Review
"The blog I turn to for insight into Middle East news is often Professor Juan Cole’s, because he’s smart, well-informed and sensible — in other words, I often agree with his take." -- Nicholas Kristof, New York Times
"The Obama administration, as it seeks to correct a decade of self-fulfilling phobias, will find no better guide than this nuanced, clear-headed, visionary book.“ --The Huffington Post
"I cannot improve on Juan Cole’s thorough and excellent debunking of the results [of the Iranian Presidential Election]."-- Laura Secor, The New Yorker
"Provocative and sweeping . . . Of the three books, Cole's is the most critically rigorous and empirically informed. Agree or disagree, one cannot ignore cole's historically and sociologically driven analysis and moral courage." -- Fawaz Gerges, National Interest
"Cole has written a gripping, accessible and elegant book. One of its great strengths is its weaving together a wealth of data into compelling historical vignettes and anecdotes. The author is an excellent storyteller and this book is a pleasurable and entertaining read." --Ziad Fahmy, H-Levant
"Cole has become one of the best-known experts on Islam, and here Cole doesn't disappoint. Whether dealing with America's "Islam Anxiety," the Middle East's oil problem, or Afghanistan/Pakistan, he offers provocative analysis and a level of detail that goes quite beyond the mainstream media's new reports." --Amitabh Pal, The Progressive, Favorite Books of 2009
"Beginning with the observation that "the Muslim world and the West are at a standoff," Cole fashions conceptual tools to account for the prejudice and fear with which each thinks about the other." --Choice
“A provocative read… Cole convincingly argues that misunderstanding and generalizing Islam and the Middle East has contributed to great losses of both blood and treasure in recent years.”--Military Review
About the Author
John Ricardo I. "Juan" Cole (born October 1952) is an American scholar, public intellectual, and historian of the modern Middle East and South Asia. He is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. As a commentator on Middle Eastern affairs, he has appeared in print and on television, and testified before the United States Senate. He has published several peer-reviewed books on the modern Middle East and is a translator of both Arabic and Persian. Since 2002, he has written a weblog, Informed Comment (juancole.com).
Watch the Video: "Engaging the Muslim World"–Middle East Analyst Juan Cole on US Policy in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel and Beyond: http://www.democracynow.org/2009/3/17/engaging_the_muslim_world_middle_east