Academic journal article Military Review

Engaging the Muslim World

Academic journal article Military Review

Engaging the Muslim World

Article excerpt

ENGAGING THE MUSLIM WORLD, Juan Cole, Palgrave McMillan, New York, 2009, 282 pages, $26.95.

In Engaging the Muslim World, Juan Cole argues that the West's misplaced fear of Islam and its tendency to reach general conclusions about the Muslim world are responsible for past failures in U.S. foreign policy. No dispassionate observer, Cole, a history professor at the University of Michigan who reads and speaks several Middle Eastern languages, writes "Informed Comment," an Internet blog in which he sharply criticizes the Iraq War and Bush Administration's foreign policy.

Cole cites Senator John McCain as saying that if the United States were to prematurely leave Iraq, the country would become a base for Al-Qaeda. He argues that U.S. politicians and pundits tend to simplify Islam as a monolithic religion. However, he says, the majority of Iraq is Shi'a and would not allow a Sunni terrorist organization like Al-Qaeda to control the country. Cole's criticism is sound, although he does not satisfactorily explain how the Iraqi government would be able to keep Al-Qaeda's influence out of the Sunni-dominated part of the country without coalition assistance.

Cole's recommendation to the Obama administration is to use negotiation as a key. …

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