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Washington Quarterly: Islam Is Not the Solution (or the Problem)

Author: Daniel Brumberg
Winter 2005-06


Because, with few exceptions, Islamists remain the best organized and most influential opposition forces in the Arab world, any policy that does not engage mainstream Islamists, particularly advocates of a more pluralistic Islam, will fail to be credible or effective. Yet, without understanding the intricacies of Islamist politics, U.S. efforts to enlist Islamists and their ideas in the cause of democracy will do little good and might do considerable harm. The problem is not merely that an uncritical engagement might strengthen illiberal Islamist forces. The more fundamental problem is the erroneous assumption that Islam itself provides the foundation of political identity.

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