Tuesday, April 8, 2008

"The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State" by author Noah Feldman

Noah Feldman's book "The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State" conveys many of the common stereotypes and political assertions that have undermined justice in the Middle East, Arab World and Islamic World. Althoug it offers some deep thought, it is consumed by common stereotypes: for example in Iran, the author argues that Islamicists merged Islamic law with political government, but really doesn't put the blame where it belongs, on the corruption of American and Western foreign policy which helped create confrontation pushing Muslims into a corner in the world that they have learned to dominate and use as a base for expansion.

Iran was governed by one of the most brutal secular tyrants in the world, the Shah of Iran, Reza Pahlavi. He was a murderer worse than Saddam Hussein or even Hitler and yet he had the bacing and support of the American government for years as he oppressed his people. When the people of Iran rose to force the Shah out of office -- fighting against the Shah and his American supporters -- the natural reaction was to turn to an extremist Islamic code of justice to compensate for the American corruption that the Shah represented.

Of course, the author does not address the role of Israel, another instance where Western powers sought to impose political situations on the Middle East only to have created a situation where Christians and Muslims were plagued with Western-style injustice. The response, again, has been an extremist rise of anger against Israel and the West, pushing the two sides to extremist ends.

Never criticism of Israel, of course or its role in pushing the Islamicists to the extreme.

If you strip away the politics and perceptions -- which is difficult -- Feldman does try to offer an analysis of today's Islamic world challenges in today's context. His historical narrative is very accurate in many instances. But the bottom line is that no one can expect the Islamic World to embrace legal reform and the rule of law when it is not practiced in other parts of the Middle East, especially in Israel and in Iraq, which is today an American occupied wasteland and killing field.

The real challenge is to address the hypocrisies of the Western World as it applies to Islam and how the failings of the Western World have made it almost impossible to establish true Democracy in those Islamic countries.

The best answer to the Islamic challenge is to practice what you preach and set an example, rather than explaining how the Islamic World has failed to evolve to meet our, Western, expectations.

A great read, despite some need to reinforce missing aspects of the story.


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