Contents:Introduction: The War on Terror: between Fourth World War and Optical IllusionI. Who is the Enemy? Where is the Enemy?The obsession with IraqAn illusion: the weight of lobbies in the decision to invade IraqThe project to reform the greater Middle EastThe failure of the top-down democratization policy The return to a policy of containment or the eradication of Islamism II. The Middle East: Atomization of Conflicts and New Fault LinesThe three traumas of the Arab Middle EastThe political imaginaire in crisis: between nationalism, clannism, and supranationalismFrom pan-Arabism to forms of pan-IslamismA tectonic upheaval: Shiites against Sunnis III. Iran, Between the Bomb and BombardmentThe Ahmadinejad phenomenon, parentheses or continuity?An American bombardment? IV. And meanwhile, Al Qaeda
In this small but powerful book, Olivier Roy has discovered the Archimedean point from which all existing narratives of Muslim politics in the Middle East may be overthrown. This point is a simple one: that the Middle East has no political integrity of its own but is defined rather by its relationship with the West. Having dispensed with the old-fashioned narratives that still structure Leftist accounts of neo-colonialism (with their fetishism of Captain Cook-like moments of first contact between peoples), Roy is able to write a trenchant account showing how the Middle East has quite transformed the political categories of Left and Right, particularly in the United States. This has allowed him to write what is perhaps the first combined history of political thought in the West and the Middle East. -- Faisal Devji, St. Antony's College, University of Oxford, and author of Landscapes of the Jihad: Militancy, Morality, Modernity Olivier Roy has been a confidante of leading U.S. neo-conservative strategists since his work on the Afghan resistance in the 1980s. He now delivers a lucid and decisive dismemberment of these same individuals (and their interventionist Republican allies, such as Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney) during the regime of George W. Bush. He calmly explains how their misunderstanding of the threat posed by the attacks of September 11, combined with their reality-free conception of U.S. government, have needlessly created a disaster. His critique extends even further to include the shallow critiques deployed by the opposition, showing how many of the liberal and leftist ideas about promotion of democracy, civil society, or self-determination are based on kindred illusions. Anyone concerned about the extrication of the U.S. and the world from this disaster should read, re-read, think about, and discuss this book. -- Barnett R. Rubin, director of Studies and senior fellow, Center on International Cooperation, New York University
Olivier Roy is research director at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and lectures at the Ecole des hautes etudes en sciences sociales (EHESS) and the Institut d'etudes politiques (IEP) in Paris. His books with Columbia University Press are Holy Ignorance: When Religion and Culture Diverge, Secularism Confronts Islam, Globalized Islam, The Search for a New Ummah, and, with Mariam Abou Zahab, Islamist Networks: The Afghan-Pakistan Connection.
A concise and penetrating summation of the current scene. -- Dexter Filkins New York Times Book Review 4/27/08 Roy offers an ironic account worthy of Jonathan Swift. -- L. Carl Brown Foreign Affairs 6/1/08