6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Religion, Politics and Experts in the Middle East,
This review is from: Islam and the Myth of Confrontation: Religion and Politics in the Middle East (Paperback)This book was among the essential readings for my course of World History, and frankly I found the chapter about Iran the part worth reading(Khomeini's reign of terror etc) still the author's basic thesis is a flawed one when it comes to the question whether Islam and democracy are incompatible, as he spuriously argues that democracy is possible only with secularism. The ironic thing is that while he says Islamism is a form of nationalism(which of course just like any other form of nationalism is constructed through what have been selected, written, pictured, popularized and repressed by its architects i.e. Mawdudi, Khomeini and Qutb) the issue is that when he speaks about the supposed incompatibility of Islam and democracy, he tends to forget that just as Islamism is constructed ideology, so it is not impossible to reconstruct and reinterpret Islam to fit into the democracy realm. Take the fatwas of Ayatollah Sistani in Iraq as an excellent example of effort.
Another place that I am at odd with Halliday is his portrait of the Gulf War just one kind of a `just war", I was not against pushing Saddam out of Kuwait, nor had the slightest illusion that sanctions will make him back off, but my issue is the belligerent and morally bank corrupt policy of George Bush the father, that favoured and to a great extend helped the dictator to stay in power in the aftermath of the war for another decade. We might have had totally a different situation in Iraq altogether, given that the fact that all the neighboring countries were in favour of removing him from power and the possibility of using the defeated Iraq as a buffer zone, as it has been since 2003, would have been much less likely.
I think that there are better works in the market that shed the light on the resurgent of political Islam. I would particularly recommend Karen Armstrong's The Battle for God.