RAND Report Says Cold War Offers Lessons on Engaging with the Muslim World
Mar 26, 2007
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Radical and dogmatic interpretations of Islam have gained ground in recent years in many Muslim societies via extensive Islamist networks spanning the Muslim world and the Muslim diaspora communities of North America and Europe. Although a majority throughout the Muslim world, moderates have not developed similar networks to amplify their message and to provide protection from violence and intimidation. With considerable experience fostering networks of people committed to free and democratic ideas during the Cold War, the United States has a critical role to play in leveling the playing field for Muslim moderates. The authors derive lessons from the U.S. and allied Cold War network-building experience, determine their applicability to the current situation in the Muslim world, assess the effectiveness of U.S. government programs of engagement with the Muslim world, and develop a “road map” to foster the construction of moderate Muslim networks.
The Cold War Experience
Parallels Between the Cold War and the Challenges in the Muslim World Today
U.S. Government Efforts to Stem the Radical Tide
Road Map for Moderate Network Building in the Muslim World
The European Pillar of the Network
The Southeast Asian Pillar of the Network
The Middle East Component
Secular Muslims: A Forgotten Dimension in the War of Ideas
Conclusions and Recommendations
U.S. Foreign Assistance Framework
"When I suggest that radical Muslims are the problem and that moderate Muslims are the solution, the nearly inevitable retort from most people is: 'What moderate Muslims?'… Moderate Muslims do exist. But, of course, they constitute a very small movement when compared to the Islamist onslaught. This means that the American government and other powerful institutions should give priority to locating, meeting with, funding, forwarding, empowering, and celebrating those brave Muslims who, at personal risk, stand up and confront the totalitarians. 'Building Moderate Muslim Networks' methodically takes up and thinks through this concept. [The authors] grapple intelligently with the innovative issue of helping moderate Muslims to grow and prosper… [The book] marks a major step toward the systematic reconfiguration of Washington's policy for combating Islamism. The study's meaty contents, clear analysis, and bold recommendations usefully move the debate forward, offering precisely the in-depth strategizing that Westerners urgently need."
- Daniel Pipes, Middle East Forum, April 2007
"'Building Moderate Muslim Networks' is both refreshing and thought provoking in its examination of the tough work needed to achieve democratic transformation in the Muslim world. It avoids the twin pitfalls of demonizing Muslim nations and denying the social and political differences between those nations and ours. The book's authors provide an overview of the 'war of ideas' going on in the Muslim world, criticize the shortsighted U.S. approach to this 'war', and call for a clear long-term policy… The book is worth reading for its insights on countering extremism in the Muslim world and the questions it inspires about our policy priorities."
- Military Review, November-December 2007
"…In [this] landmark report, four RAND scholars draw a nuanced yet common-sense distinction between radical and moderate Muslims, and make sweeping policy prescriptions that, if implemented, will fundamentally alter the way Western governments tackle what is arguably the most pressing threat of our times… All in all, this important contribution to the policy debate ought to get the serious attention it deserves."
- Far Eastern Economic Review, May 2007
The research described in this report was sponsored by the Smith Richardson Foundation and was conducted under the auspices of the Center for Middle East Public Policy.
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