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A Necessary Engagement: Reinventing America's Relations with the Muslim World (Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics) [Hardcover]

by Emile Nakhleh
2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 18, 2009 0691135258 978-0691135250

In A Necessary Engagement, the CIA's former point man on Islam makes a vigorous case for a renewal of American public diplomacy in the Muslim world. Offering a unique balance between in-depth analysis, personal memoir, and foreign policy remedies, the book injects much-needed wisdom into the public discussion of long-term U.S.-Muslim relations.

Intelligence insider Emile Nakhleh argues that an engagement with the Muslim world benefits the national interest of the United States. Therefore, the next administration should discard the terrorism prism through which the country has viewed political Islam since 9/11 and focus instead on the common interests of America and mainstream Muslims. Nakhleh investigates recent U.S. policy toward Islamic nations and offers the new administration a ten-point plan for rebuilding America's relationship with the Muslim world. The author demonstrates that winning over Arabs and Muslims requires a thorough knowledge of Arab and Muslim cultures and languages within our intelligence community, as well as a long-term American commitment of personnel and resources. While the success of these efforts will be incremental and hard to measure, Nakhleh believes that the current low standing of the United States in most Arab and Muslim countries can be reversed.

Stressing that effective public diplomacy must be a serious, coordinated effort pursued at the highest political levels, A Necessary Engagement charts a new course for future ties between the United States and the Islamic world.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Nakhleh, former director of the CIA's Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program, draws on nearly three decades of experience, current research and extensive polling to argue that the majority of Muslims strongly oppose terrorism and want good governance and a functional relationship with the U.S. But, he writes, The policies of the past six years have put the [U.S.] on a collision course with the Islamic world, and have undermined American credibility and stature worldwide. He offers several recommendations for engaging Muslim communities, starting with enhancing government expertise in political Islam and including promoting multilateralism, a resolution of regional conflicts... intellectual exchanges... dialogue with adversaries and an end to wars of choice. Nakhleh defends the CIA from accusations that it failed to sound the pre-9/11 alarm (the claim made by some neo-cons... is patently false) and strengthens the case that more often than not, politics trumped intelligence in the Bush administration. Indeed, the greatest irony may be that today, a majority of Muslims view the U.S. as a threat to world peace. Incoming policymakers might want to take note. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"[A] thoughtful book. . . . Nakhleh makes a strong case for the importance of constructive engagement with all Islamists except the global jihadists."--Jonathan Benthall, Times Literary Supplement

"Nakhleh, former director of the CIA's Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program, draws on nearly three decades of experience, current research and extensive polling to argue that the majority of Muslims strongly oppose terrorism and want good governance and a functional relationship with the U.S."--
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"In an informative and revealing book, A Necessary Engagement, Emile Nakhleh, a former director of Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program in the CIA's Directorate of Intelligence, says that although midlevel U.S. officials knew better than to frame the war in black-and-white terms, ever-expanding the territory of the enemy, they had little say and input in decision-making. . . . Nakhleh paints a grim and stark portrait of the failures of U.S. policy makers to understand the most basic attitudes that Muslims have of themselves, each other and the West."--Fawaz A. Gerges, The National Interest

"This book should be required reading for the non-expert who wants a real understanding of militant Islam and how the United States should deal with it. Even experts in Islam, foreign policy and public diplomacy would find it worth reading. The author has marshaled persuasive arguments and presented a systematic analysis that is carefully grounded in fact and sensible conclusions. . . . Nakhleh's years of careful study have been distilled into a highly readable 146 pages. Because of the nature of the issues he discussed, this book will be relevant to understanding our world for some time to come."--William A. Rugh, Middle East Policy

"Nakhleh draws extensively on his government background in this slim, must-read volume, which combines cogent and balanced analysis with well-reasoned policy recommendations culminating in a useful 'blueprint' for US public diplomacy that offers some novel suggestions."--Mona Yacoubian, Middle East Journal

"In this slender volume, Nakhleh examines the relationship between the U.S. and the Muslim world, presents cogent criticisms of U.S. assumptions and policies, and extends sound advice on how to undo what has been done through mistake, ignorance, or arrogance. . . . The book is optimistic, succinct, and timely."--A. Ahmad, Choice

"[A]nyone reflecting on how the US policy towards the Muslim world should be developed would be well advised to read it."--Harold Walker, Journal of Islamic Studies

Product Details

  • Series: Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics
  • Hardcover: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (January 18, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691135258
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691135250
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #621,013 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

2.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It deals with an important issue of US foreign policy: the necessity for engaging the world of Islam. This is a topic regarding which the Obama administration raised a lot of hope when he was first elected, but neglected to follow up. Nakhleh is quite perceptive in outling the mega-agenda for the President.
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5 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nothing new or even insightful May 23, 2009
This purports to be a book explaining why dialogue with the Muslim world is important and how we should do it. Unfortunately it spends too much of the 180 pages justifying how great the accomplishments of the CIA were on the author's watch while distancing the agency from any responsibility for the flawed intelligence on Iraq. When it gets to the dialogue, the discussion is facile and unimaginative. More student visas, more conferences, US Cultural Centers sprinkled about the Muslim world; ho-hum. It makes some real laughers in terms of analysis -- at one point claiming that the villagers in Central Asia are increasingly wired to the wider world, ignoring that much of rural CA is without electricity or running water, much less internet connectivity -- it'd be more correct to limit this observation to the major cities, but even they are so much less connected than the Middle East, outreach to them through the internet would have limited impact at this point. There is no discussion of the huge amount of mis- and dis-information that flows through the region, its cause and what the US should do about it. In the end, the call for dialogue based on mutual respect devolves into pandering to the prejudices of the masses.
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