The electoral triumph of Hamas in the Palestinian elections of January 2006 has made it imperative for policy makers around the world to understand this group and its ideology. Is Hamas likely to soften its hostility to Israel? Is Hamas likely to receive significant support from the Muslim world? What are the odds that Hamas can be either placated or isolated? If Hamas can make a strong claim to be authentically Islamic in its ideological underpinnings, then it is more likely to receive support from portions of the Muslim world and less likely to be conciliatory vis-à-vis Israel. Unfortunately, a careful study of the ideology of Hamas and its parent, the Muslim Brotherhood, shows that that ideology is firmly rooted in traditional Islamic principles. Far from distorting or perverting classical Islamic law, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood can claim very plausibly that shari'a requires implacable and violent resistance to Israel, including terrorism, and denial of Israel's right to exist as a non-Muslim state located on Islamic territory. Efforts to placate or isolate Hamas are therefore unlikely to succeed.
In the course of the last decade it has become clear that events have gone wrong in Saudi Arabia. A deep intra-societal struggle cuts across all formative institutions of the country and the house of Al Saud is at pains to address its profound crisis of legitimacy and performance, the overwhelming crisis of identity associated with modernity, the internal and external pressures for socio-economic reforms, and the complex and multi-faceted phenomenon of religious extremism. This article examines the formidable challenge of addressing frustrated popular expectations, and reforming the state's religious institutions and rigid politico-ideological agenda without alienating the substantial conservative constituency on which the monarchy's legitimacy depends. It also traces the historical and the ideological roots of international and local jihadism as well as the evolution of Wahhabism from a retrograde but status quo-oriented philosophy into a radical ideology prone to violence and terrorism.
The current conflict of political terror advocated by religious Islamists, such as Osama bin Laden, threaten to eclipse the relevance of non-violent strategies advocated by Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. An examination of the relative strengths and weakness of the tactics of non-violence (ahimsa) and violence (jihad) will show some short-term advantages for violence, that are serious ly mitigated by other long-term and tactical weaknesses. This investigation also suggests new ways (a chemical model) for understand ing the moral polar extremes of religious belief represented by Gandhi and bin Laden.
An analysis of the propaganda of the Freedom Fighters for Israel, one of the three movements that took up arms against the British mandate in Palestine, provides the basis for the development of a model of national liberation narratives. It indicates that they are best understood as a morality play between the forces of good and evil in which the freedom fighters will overcome seemingly insurmountable odds and ultimately emerge victorious. This configuration is repeat ed in a series of nested narratives — contemporary, historical and metahistorical, national, and universal, individual and collective — that reinforce each other and the message they are trying to convey. At the same time, however, these stories are in dialogue with three rival ones — the foreign narrative of the occupying power, the dominant narrative of less militant nationalists, and the prior narrative of the religious authorities. To a large extent, these opposing tales provide the inferential structure for the stories of the liberation movement. In the war of words, it is not the freedom fighters but their rivals that set the contours of the conflict.
This study used international crisis as a tool to analyze Protracted Conflicts (PCs). Two core attributes, the compound nature and over all magnitude, were formulated and applied to the Arab-Israeli and India-Pakistan PCs in order to address three theoretical questions. First, how do we measure the compound nature of a PC and do PCs change over time? Second, how do we measure overall PC magnitude and does it change over time? Third, do the compound nature and magnitude of a PC correspond?
We found that the concepts of compound nature and overall magnitude are useful and necessary tools for a systematic analysis of the two PCs in the Middle East and South Asia, over the years 1947- 2005. The two PCs are similar in some leading attributes (e.g. colonial tradition, religious and territorial stakes, nuclear complexity, outbreaks of violence and duration) but differ in others (salience of the ethnic and interstate dimensions, characteristics of ethnic actors, and overall magnitude). Regarding the correspondence between the compound nature and overall magnitude in PCs, we found some correspondence in both regional conflicts but not to the same degree.
Given the importance of delineating PC dynamics, the study found that stability and order in the interstate domain cannot be detached from events that unfold in the ethnic-state domain. While outcomes of crises vary over time, compromise in ethnic-state confrontations was less evident than in interstate ones. The study concluded that a compound nature, or a primarily ethnic characterization of a conflict, not only prolongs the confrontation but also diminishes the prospects of conflict resolution. Notwithstanding the importance of territory, nuclear spread, and religion as core aspects in PCs, the study draws attention to ethnic actors and issues as salient aspects in international crises and conflicts, the heart and core of world politics.
This article examines the role played by George Frost Kennan in the development and execution of early American covert operations. The author argues that Kennan played a crucial role not only in the development of NSC 10/2: Office of Special Projects but also in the expansion of these activities during the years 1948 through 1950. In this case, as in so many others, the corresponding shift in American Cold War strategy owed more to the personality and belief system of one man than to changes in the international system.