MULLAHS, MERCHANTS, AND MILITANTS: The Economic Collapse of the Arab World

Article excerpt

MULLAHS, MERCHANTS, AND MILITANTS: The Economic Collapse of the Arab World, Stephen J. Glain, St. Martin's Press, New York, 2004, 350 pages, $25.95.

In Mullahs, Merchants, and Militants, Stephen J. Glain forwards the premise that the Global War on Terrorism is alarmist reactionism as flawed in theory and concept as President Dwight D. Eisenhower's policy of containment of the spread of communism during the Cold War. According to Glain, the Eisenhower Doctrine and President George W. Bush's policy of unilateralism are miscues that cost the United States vital prestige and influence in an Arab world fraught with instability.

Glain further contends that America has "vastly misjudged" the status and credibility of fundamentalist Islam in the Muslim consciousness, just as Osama bin-Laden overestimated his ability to incite an Islamic fatwah against the Western world after the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks. Glain sees what began as a judicious assault against "provocative militants in their lairs" as having devolved into a crusade in the Muslim heartland that threatens the "reservoir of goodwill" most Arabs have for the United States and its values.

According to Glain, the solution for stability is wholly based in economic trade. Commerce alone, the natural enemy of the most violent of fundamentalist passions, will temper revolution and bring peace to a region where commerce and culture once thrived. Highlighting the fact that the Middle East represents the lowest level of global trade relative to economic output, Glain focuses responsibility on a "mix of political oppression, stagnant economies, and [high] population growth" that threatens to erode the region into a hopeless, despair-ridden breeding ground for fundamentalism. …


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