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Thoughts on Libya Bombing

As I write these lines, the international forces have started bombing key installations in Libya. My feelings on this new air war are, as usual, deeply split. Part of me is sad because it is yet another Muslim country being bombed by the US and its allies. But another part of me is hopeful, as these actions were absolutely necessary by the world community to finally stop Gaddafi.

As the implementation of this “No Fly Zone” continues, let us keep reminding ourselves that this, at least, is not a war engineered by the US. This war started because people of Libya rose against their dictator, who, in turn, unleashed the might of his armed forces against his own people. The purpose of these airstrikes is to stop him from eliminating this first serious popular resistance to his autocratic rule.

Though the idea of yet another Muslim nation under attack infuriates and saddens me; I am, at this point, grateful to the world community for their efforts to enable the Libyan people to fight against Gaddafi and his ilk. We should also remember that this aid by the West cannot and should not be mobilized to make any claims on the future of Libya: this aid should not become a claim to Libya’s resources in the future and if it does become that, we will be there to remind the world community.

And we should keep reminding them even now, repeatedly: The Libyan people started this revolution; they asked for your help; you helped them, but you do not and never shall own their future.

I also hope that if the people of other Middle Eastern nations seek global help against their tyrannical governments, the world will be there to support their efforts for democracy. And if the Muslim nations have a problem with the West bombing Libya, then send in your own troops, planes, and your warships to aid this effort. But I think I will see pigs fly before I see Saudi planes–the most modern airforce in the Arab world–on Libyan skies. It is time to rethink our region and to finally express that tyranny of any kind–no matter what underwrites it–has no place in the world.

So, here it is: thank you world for helping the Libyan people and thank you people of Libya for rising against tyranny.

(Read Aljazeera’s Live Blog on Libya)

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Commentaries Culture Politics

GoodReads: Engaging the Muslim World, Juan Cole

Engaging the Muslim World

By Juan Cole

Publication Details:
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; Rev Upd edition (September 14, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0230102751
ISBN-13: 978-0230102750

Details (From Amazon.com)

From Publishers Weekly

University of Michigan history professor and blogger Cole (Sacred Space and Holy War) takes aim at the Bush administration’s Islamophobic discourse, highlighting that some of the very people who promulgated the phobia (Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld) once sang a different tune. He calls instead for evenhanded and pragmatic policy changes, not least a reckoning with the heterogeneity of the Muslim world. Yet for all his expertise, Cole fails to source some of his harshest accusations; moreover, for a scholar championing greater subtlety of thought, he too often discards nuance himself. To the extent that Cole argues against painting the Middle East with overly broad strokes, he brings a constructive addition to public discourse; his failure to be consistent is a lost opportunity. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Reviews

“Cole has delivered an important book that members of the administration would be wise to read en route to the Middle East.”–The American Prospect
“[A] balanced and effective antidote to oversimplified Western views of Islam. . . . manages to prick western misconceptions without taking extremist movements entirely at their own estimation.” —The Economist
“[Cole] brings a constructive addition to public discourse.” —Publishers Weekly
“Intelligent, clear and erudite. This is a timely and incisive retrospective of the Bush administration’s calamitous encounter with the Muslim World by one of the most noted scholars of the subject. Cole looks deep into what went wrong to show the way forward to a new engagement of the Muslim World.”–Vali Nasr, bestselling author of The Shia Revival: How Conflicts Within Islam Will Shape the Future

“Juan Cole, distinguished specialist on the Muslim world, delivers his most comprehensive and erudite commentary to date — covering imperialism, the Arab-Israeli conflict, American oil politics, radical Islam and Middle Eastern terrorism. Engaging the Muslim World is the book every educated American should read.”–Chalmers Johnson, bestselling author of Nemesis and The Blowback Trilogy

“Engaging the Muslim World is a MUST read, the right book at the right time for anyone who wants to understand ‘What went wrong, why, and where do we go from here.’ Juan Cole is uniquely qualified to provide a critical, incisive, provocative analysis and commentary that will be welcomed by experts, policymakers and concerned citizens.”–John L. Esposito, Professor of religion & International Affairs, Georgetown University and bestselling author of Who Speaks for Islam? and What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam

“Cole provides a comprehensive alternative analysis of the current situation in the Muslim world and reveals how new U.S. policies might succeed in bringing peace where wars now rage. He proves the key role of oil interests in American foreign policy and demonstrates how incorrect or exaggerated ideas now prevalent in the U.S. are about the intrinsic militancy of Islam, and the aggressiveness of Iran. Everyone should read and ponder the facts he presents and the solutions he proposes.”–Nikki Keddie, Professor Emerita of History, UCLA and author of Modern Iran and Women in the Middle East

“Juan Cole’s depth and breath of knowledge on the Middle East has made him the most prescient analyst of the region’s politics. It might infuriate the neocons who are proven wrong again and again, but Cole’s insight is invaluable to anyone interested in the truth.”– Markos Moulitsas, DailyKos

“A well-reasoned, useful vision for Western-Muslim relations.”–Kirkus

“A leading American expert on the Islamic world, seeks to dispel many of the persistent myths about Islam and the Middle East. Cole convincingly demonstrates why one should not confuse Muslim activism with hidebound fundamentalism. The chapter dealing with Iran is particularly informative and evenhanded, and the analysis of myriad issues in U.S.-Iran relations is a welcome antidote to the barrage of alarmist commentaries on Iran in much of the U.S. press. This readable and intelligent book is a must read for policymakers and the informed public.–Library Journal, starred review
“Juan Cole’s ‘Engaging the Muslim World’ maps those fault lines, and one can only wish Bush had mulled over such material before the misadventures of the post-9/11 era began.  Like Lawrence Wright’s remarkable ‘Looming Tower’, published almost three years ago, this field guide to the politics of modern Islam traces the history of the different movements, whose violent offshoots are still morphing into new forms.” —New York Times Book Review
“The blog I turn to for insight into Middle East news is often Professor Juan Cole’s, because he’s smart, well-informed and sensible — in other words, I often agree with his take.” — Nicholas Kristof, New York Times
“The Obama administration, as it seeks to correct a decade of self-fulfilling phobias, will find no better guide than this nuanced, clear-headed, visionary book.“ –The Huffington Post
“I cannot improve on Juan Cole’s thorough and excellent debunking of the results [of the Iranian Presidential Election].”– Laura Secor, The New Yorker
“Provocative and sweeping . . . Of the three books, Cole’s is the most critically rigorous and empirically informed. Agree or disagree, one cannot ignore cole’s historically and sociologically driven analysis and moral courage.” — Fawaz Gerges, National Interest
“Cole has written a gripping, accessible and elegant book.  One of its great strengths is its weaving together a wealth of data into compelling historical vignettes and anecdotes.  The author is an excellent storyteller and this book is a pleasurable and entertaining read.” –Ziad Fahmy, H-Levant