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Council on Foreign Relations Religion and Foreign Policy Bulletin
September 2013

September 2013

A Global Venture to Counter Violent Extremism

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(Muslim funeral for a victim of the carnage at Nairobi's Westgate mall/Courtesy Reuters)


In this CFR Policy Innovation Memorandum Ed Husain, CFR senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies, argues for the creation of a global venture to counter violent extremism. For him, it is crucial that the United States and its partners assist local and community organizations attempting to counter radical narratives by providing financial aid, supporting moderate voices, and "puncturing the popular perception that the United States is at war with Islam."

Spotlight on Religion Scholar John Carlson

John D. Carlson is associate professor of religious studies at Arizona State University, where he also serves as associate director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict. His research explores how religious and ethical ideas influence our understanding of political life. Dr. Carlson is using CFR President Richard N. Haass's book War of Necessity, War of Choice: A Memoir of Two Iraq Wars in his "Religion, War, and Peace" class to teach a unit on realism. He is the author of more than twenty articles and book chapters; his most recent book is From Jeremiad to Jihad: Religion, Violence, and America. Dr. Carlson's reflection on the Syria crisis, "Just War as Punishment," appears this week at


CFR Primer on Al-Shabab

Some experts believe al-Shabab is at its weakest point in years following an African-led counterinsurgency campaign, but the attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi may prove otherwise. Reference this CFR Backgrounder on the Somali-based extremist group to understand its origins, motivations, and resiliency.

To learn more about the atrocity in Kenya, visit CFR's Africa in Transition blog.

Jihad Comes to Kenya

Until recently, experts assumed that al-Shabab's recruitment in Kenya was limited to the country's Somali minority, but according to Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, research fellow at Kings College's Institute for the Study of Radicalization, Kenyans are joining as well. This Foreign Affairs Snapshot tells the story of six Kenyans who joined the ranks of al-Shabab and explores the complicated factors that led each to take up arms. Read more »

Russia's Orthodox Awakening?

Writing for, Nadieszda Kizenko, associate professor of history at SUNY Albany, argues that the Russian Orthodox Church's traditionally ultra-conservative narrative is waning, and a spirit of liberalism has begun to take hold at the grassroots level.

To better understand the complicated relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Kremlin, listen to this Religion and Foreign Policy Conference Call with Leonid Kishkovsky, director of external affairs for and interchurch relations for the Orthodox Church in America.