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.
Emile Nakhleh was a senior intelligence service officer and director of the Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program in the Directorate of Intelligence at the Central Intelligence Agency. He holds a PhD in international relations and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Author's Note ix Introduction xi Chapter 1: Political Islam and Islamization 1 Islamization and Islamic Activism 4 Stages of Islamization 8 Islamic Activism and Radicalization 12 Islamic Radicals and WMD 14 Manifestations of Islamization 17 Factors Contributing to Islamization 20 Education and Islamization 23 Shia Activism 26 Islamic Political Party Politics 30 Islamic Activism, CIA Briefings, and U.S. Policy Responses 33 Chapter 2: Intelligence, Political Islam, and Policymakers 37 Intelligence and Policy: Roots of Tension 38 Politics Trumps National Security 40 Building Expertise 41 Academic Outreach 43 Training of Analysts 46 Cultural Expertise and Intelligence Analysis 47 Open-Source Data Mining 50 Visiting Muslim Countries 51 Analytic Products, Briefings, and Policymakers' Response 53 Iraq: Critical Briefings before and aft er the Invasion 54 Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and the American Response 61 Authoritarian Regimes and Political Reform 64 Bureaucratic Impediments 66 Collecting Data on Political Islam 68 Chapter 3: Public Diplomacy: Issues and Attitudes 71 Polls and Attitudes 73 Global War on Terror 80 Invading Muslim Countries 84 Democratization 90 The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: An "Honest Broker" Role? 94 Unilateralism Resonates Poorly 98 Chapter 4: Public Diplomacy: A Blueprint 101 Caveats and Challenges 105 Secularists and Modernists 107 Traditionalists and Radical Salafis 112 Core Themes 120 A Blueprint 125 Conclusion Looking Ahead 140 Acknowledgments 145 Glossary 147 Sources Cited 151 Index 155