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Thursday, November 29, 2018

Issue 1820

Political Theology in the Greater Middle East
Introduction
Introduction

Navigating The Realm Of Political Theology In The Greater Middle East

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Thursday, November 29, 2018

The modern world—or the era we blithely have been calling “modern”—has defined itself against religion. The Treaty of Westphalia, which inaugurated today’s international state system, pushed religion to diplomacy’s margins to avoid, it was hoped, further wars of religion as had propelled the Thirty Years’ War from 1618-1648.

Featured Analysis
Featured Analysis

The Legacy Of Saddam’s Islam

by Samuel Helfontvia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Anyone examining Islam in Saddam’s Iraq (1979-2003) and the legacy of that period today is quickly confronted with a tangled web of problematic definitions and eclectic ideologies. Untangling this web is essential for identifying what really drives Iraqi politics, and doing so provides one with some hope that sectarian differences can still be overcome.  Paradoxically, it also does not augur well for the chances for stability in the country anytime soon. 

Featured Analysis

Contradictions Of The Faith

by Sanam Vakilvia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

On February 11, 2019 Iran will celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the Iranian revolution and the creation of Iran’s Islamic government guided by a clerical leader known as the vali-e-faqih.  This anniversary is important for numerous reasons including that the Islamic Republic, having survived many political storms, has outlasted the expectations of many. Under renewed political and economic pressure from US sanctions and Washington’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or Iran nuclear agreement, this anniversary has added symbolism for Tehran. 

Featured Analysis

Restoring Religion’s Role In Foreign And Domestic Policy In Erdogan’s Turkey

by Henri J. Barkeyvia The Caravan
Thursday, December 6, 2018

“Turkey is the only country that can lead the Muslim World,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently claimed. This simple sentence contains not only the ambitions and contradictions of Turkey’s current Islamist leadership but also the distance it has traveled back to its foundational stance. Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party, AKP, emerged from the bosom of the hardline Islamist leader Necmettin Erbakan and his Muslim Brotherhood inspired movement and political party of the 1970s. 

Featured Analysis

Religion And Politics In Israel

by Itamar Rabinovichvia The Caravan
Thursday, December 6, 2018

A complex relationship between religion and politics is inherent in Israel’s character as a Jewish state. The term Jewish denotes both a religion and an ethnicity, and, for the past seventy years, Israel’s leaders have had to deal with a host of issues regarding religion’s role in the life and politics of the Jewish state.

Featured Analysis

Religion And Politics In Lebanon: The Case Of A Christian ‘Alliance’ With Hezbollah

by Habib Malikvia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 11, 2018

It may be somewhat inconvenient for the secular Western mind to acknowledge the fact that ultimate identity on both the personal and group levels in a place like the Middle East remains conceived primarily in religious terms.  If this is indeed a given, then it should hardly be surprising that religion and politics become intricately intertwined within and across both communities and states in the region.

Featured Analysis

Democracy, Populism, And Polytheism: Islam In India

by Aishwary Kumarvia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Extreme fascination with idols, statues, and names is widespread across South Asia and the ritualistic violence that accompanies such practices is neither modern nor singular to India, the region’s most doggedly democratic and unequivocally polytheistic country. In fact, until this past November, when the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled India’s colossal 182-meter high Statue of Unity, which now stands as the world’s highest monument to a revisionist history of nationalism, the record for height belonged to a more modest Buddhist statue in China, shorter than Modi’s populist gift to India by more than 100 feet.

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Featured Analysis

Rebuilding the Turkish Empire: Fantasy or Reality?

by Asli Aydintasbasvia The Caravan
Wednesday, April 17, 2013

“If you are no longer interested in having an empire, we’ll take it,” I said, speaking recently in Istanbul to a group of U.S. congressmen and women who expressed ample frustration and, in the case of Syria, a clear disinterest in the affairs of the Middle East.

Featured Analysis

Rescuing Rescue

by Leon Wieseltiervia The Caravan
Monday, April 15, 2013

“Pax Americana” always struck me as a somewhat misleading description of the postwar dispensation that the United States brought to the world, for two reasons. The first is its implied equivalence with earlier empires.

Featured Analysis

Here We Are on Syria and Iran

by Itamar Rabinovichvia The Caravan
Friday, April 12, 2013

The use of force as an instrument of foreign policy has been an important and salient issue in America's grappling with its role as the world's sole superpower for more than two decades now.

Featured Analysis

The Hour of Europe?

by Russell A. Bermanvia The Caravan
Wednesday, April 10, 2013

That the tide of American might is retreating from its outposts is unmistakable.  The US military presence in Western Europe, a legacy of the Second World War, melted away after the collapse of the Soviet empire.

Introduction

World Order after the Pax Americana

by Fouad Ajamivia The Caravan
Monday, April 8, 2013

In his epic offering to the glory of Rome, Virgil set the Romans different from the “others:”  Those others “could plead their cases better,” he wrote, “chart with their rods the stars, draw from the block of marble features thick with life.”  The Roman arts differed, the Roman had to put his “stamp on the works and ways of peace/to spare the defeated, break the proud in war.

Blue Globe showing US
Featured Analysis

Nixon Predicts

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Monday, April 8, 2013

“World order after Pax Americana?”  As Virgil would say, ‘Horresco referens:”  Telling it makes me shudder.

Featured Analysis

Obama Redux - Groundhog Day

by Fouad Ajamivia The Caravan
Wednesday, December 12, 2012

President Obama, it would be sheer arrogance to offer some thoughts to you about an overall strategy for the Greater Middle East.

Featured Analysis

Getting Iran Right This Time Around

by Abbas Milanivia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dear President Obama: Congratulations on winning a second term. Iran, as you have often said, will present a major challenge to your foreign policy in the coming months.

Barack Obama
Featured Analysis

Narrow Margins and Constrained Options

by Tammy Frisbyvia The Caravan
Monday, December 10, 2012

Mr. President:

Looking ahead to your second term, evaluations of your prospects for success in domestic policymaking usually fall between fair (but maybe including the achievement of landmark tax reform or comprehensive immigration reform) and non-existent.

Featured Analysis

The American Abdication

by Leon Wieseltiervia The Caravan
Friday, December 7, 2012

One of the most tiresome clichés about the Middle East is that it never changes. In the old days, this notion of stasis was called essentialism.

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The Caravan is envisaged as a periodic symposium on the contemporary dilemmas of the Greater Middle East. It will be a free and candid exchange of opinions. We shall not lack for topics of debate, for that arc of geography has contentions aplenty. It is our intention to come back with urgent topics that engage us. Caravans are full of life and animated companionship. Hence the name we chose for this endeavor.

We will draw on the membership of Hoover's Herbert and Jane Dwight Working Group on Islamism and the International Order, and on colleagues elsewhere who work that same political and cultural landscape. Russell Berman and Charlie Hill cochair the project from which this effort originates.