Eulogy for Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur)

by Mark Woodward Former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur) died yesterday. He was 69 years old. His passing was sudden, but not altogether unexpected because his health had been fragile for many years. He will be buried tomorrow in Jombang in East Java at Pesantren Tebuireng, the Islamic school founded by his grandfather. Tens of millions mourn his passing and join together in prayer, that as one friend put it “all of his sins […] Read more »

Predator Video Hack Has SC Consequences

by Scott W. Ruston Recent headlines revealed that video feeds from the Predator, the US unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) used for surveillance and targeting in both Iraq and Afghanistan, have been intercepted by insurgents in Iraq.  Early follow up analysis focuses on whether the intercept of Predator video feeds qualifies as a “hack” or whether that term has over-sensationalized the situation.  This attention to semantics strikes me as a repeat of the “how are men […] Read more »

The Year in Review

The year 2009 in public diplomacy was a year for re-branding America in the world. The first African-American in the White House, who also happened to be the most eloquent U.S. President since John Kennedy, would have made for an auspicious year for the international image of the U.S. ... Read more »

Blatant Colonialism in the Malay Muslim “Deep South” of Thailand

by Mark Woodward and Mariani Yahya* Thai-Buddhist colonialism? That is a strange concept, but it is reality as far as the Malay-Muslims of the “Deep South” of Thailand are concerned. Edward Said noted that the representation of political- and military-subject people as less than fully human is among the basic elements of the culture and ideology of colonialism. He also observed that despite other differences, in this respect all colonialisms are the same. In the […] Read more »

Sometimes a Pirate is Just a Pirate

by Bennett Furlow Somalia is finally getting some recognition.  For far too long Somalia was ignored unless someone wanted to point to an example of a failed state.  Not until 2006, when the Union of Islamic Courts effectively gained control of the southern half of the country, did Somalia make a significant return to the international news cycle.  Since then there has been An Ethiopian invasion, war and withdrawal The emergence of al-Shabaab (and to […] Read more »

Why Demonization is Also the Wrong Language

by Mark Woodward In a comment on my recent post “Why ‘Moderate Islam’ is the Wrong Language,” Mel repeats the shopworn claim that Islam is a religion of violence. He suggests that I should “do my homework” and read the Qur’an. He implies that reading Sayyid Quttb’s writings can provide insight into the basic nature of Islam. I am not surprised to read this. Some Christians have been denouncing Islam as a religion of violence […] Read more »

Obama’s Nobel Speech Opens Narrative Possibilities

by Bud Goodall In Thursday’s Nobel acceptance speech, President Obama delivered the powerful narrative I had hoped to hear in his previous West Point address on Afghanistan.  I was critical of the West Point address due to: “the absence of a compelling narrative that links who we are, as a people, to what we are trying to accomplish over there.”  In this post, I want to examine the Nobel speech in more detail to explain why […] Read more »

Gadahn Signals Gi-normous Extremist Say-Do Gap

by Steven R. Corman Jarret Brachman just did a post on a new video by nice-Jewish-boy-turned-AQ-mouthpiece Adam Gadahn (a.k.a Azzam al-Amriki, video linked on Jarret’s site). Jarret points out that this is the first video in a good long while from as-Sahab, and it has notably lower production values than its normal fare.  But to me the most significant thing is the subject matter of the video.  I, with the help of Jeff Halverson, produced […] Read more »

Why “Moderate Islam” is the Wrong Language

by Mark Woodward* The terminology used in English and other European languages to discuss Islam, and especially Muslim political movements, shifts constantly. There is a general consensus, shared by many in the Muslim world, that “radical” and “extremist” are appropriately characterize individuals and movements that advocate and/or employ violence to accomplish their political ends. Beyond this the waters are much murkier. What language should we use to refer to the huge majority of the world”s […] Read more »

Swiss Minarets, Armenian Genocide and Academic Islamophobia

by Jeffry Halverson This morning I was forwarded an Op-Ed from the Chronicle of Higher Education written by Carlin Romano, a journalist and scholar of media theory at the University of Pennsylvania. Entitled “Of Minarets and Massacres,” the Op-Ed came across as an opportunistic diatribe against what Romano sees as the egregious hypocrisy of Muslims (and ‘self-hating’ Europeans and liberals) who have condemned the recent Swiss democratic vote (57% in favor) to ban the construction […] Read more »