The Empire and the Crescent sheds important light on the media discourse, which is rarely critical of American foreign policy. The 9/11 tragedy has not promoted any significant public debate about American foreign policy, how people overseas view American power and society, and why so many are angry with the United States.
Instead of leading to a critical public debate, the 9/11 tragedy has given the neo-conservative ruling elite their golden opportunity to expand American hegemony overseas and contain dissent at home. The recent events in Iraq attest to this. In spite of the mass protest, both in the world and America, against the United States attack on Iraq, the ruling elite did not heed any call for restraint or patience.
Now that the war is over and Iraq is occupied by American troops, what is the next step in expanding American hegemony? Syria is already under attack and it would not be surprising if by the end of the year, the US demands a regime change in Syria, as it did in Iraq. All of this goes on while the United States continues in its failure to find a concrete solution to the Palestine/Israel question, the most unsettling and wide-reaching problem in the region.
Then there is the subject of Empire, which mainstream historiography of the United States refuses to address critically, as mentioned above. America has imposed many of its doctrines on others over the past several decades, in order to ensure its military and political preeminence.
William Blum takes us through the steps of the evolution of the American doctrine of military preparedness from the end of the 1991 Gulf War to the present. The White Houses "National Security Strategy," published in 2002, stipulates that the United States must deter and defend against any threat before it is unleashed. What comes to mind is the unprecedented amount of money spent on defense and whether military might is the most effective way to ensure the safety of the world! Arguably, the world would have been better off had these trillions of dollars been spent on improving health and educational systems.
Pepe Escobar continues the theme of Empire by discussing the ideological masterminds behind the Project for a New American Century, a think tank established in Washington, D.C. in 1997. Until a few years ago, the people behind this Project were relatively unknown in American foreign policy making. Recently, they have emerged as the most powerful ideological group on earth. This assembly of hawkish men includes such people as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Donald Kagan, and Elliott Abrams, to mention but a few. It is composed of men who are bent on the shaping the map of the world on behalf of American interests. Arab oil is major target of this group and the security of Israel is another.
Edward Herman takes the question of Empire in a new direction: his thesis is that America is the most dangerous rogue state in the world because of the danger it poses to world security. This certainly reflects the feeling of most people in the Arab and Muslim worlds at the moment.
The next sets of articles are written by a number of Muslim and American scholars, who bring different perspectives and treat different topics.
Hamza Yusuf and John Esposito are more or less interested in the subject of inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue between Islam and the West. Leading American Muslim thinker Zaid Shakir is concerned with finding a theological solution to or interpretation of some of the challenges facing Muslim communities worldwide.
He offers an enlightening discussion of the Islamic meaning of jihâd, an overused term that has elicited heated debate in Western intellectual circles. Shakir argues that "even in its classical formulation, jihâd does not present a scheme of perpetual warfare."