Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Are the Shia and The Sunnis the Real Story?

Policy Making Toward The Mid-East

At the creation of Israel, U.S. policy in the Mid-East seemed dominated by drift and the demands of demestic politics. Over the next five decades our perceived self interest in the Cold War dictated our policy. Lately, terrorism, domestic politics, and the ideology of democracy have dominated our policy.

The time has come to understand the theological substance that lies beneath the vagaries of the region's politics. This would provide policymakers a much firmer foundation for understanding the dynamics of the Mid-East. This post gives you, my reader, a jumpstart.

The Reading List

Masood Farivar reviewed Vali Nasr's new book The Shia Revival in today's Wall Street Journal. The Iranian born Nasr teaches at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey. His father, Seyyed Hosein Nasr teaches at GW.

Vali Nasr has made quite a splash lately. He has briefed some of the movers and shakers in Washington (an event reported on the front page of the Wall Street Journal) and published a major article in Foreign Affairs. Sandro Magister, one of the keenest observors of international affairs and the leading vaticanologist, provides a helpful analysis and summary of Nasr's arguments.

Magister adds an useful analysis in Repubblica, "Iran's Hegemony" by Khaled Fouad Allam, translated from the Italian. He tells us that "Khaled Fouad Allam is an Algerian-born expert on Islam who now lives in Italy where he teaches at the universities of Trieste and Urbino. He is held in high esteem by the Church of Rome and what he has to say easily finds ears that listen."

I doubt that it has occurred to either the realists or the idealists that make policy in Foggy Bottom and on Pennsylvania Avenue they need to know theology. As professor Kirk exclaimed to the Pevensies, "What do they teach them in those schools these days?"

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