Arabism and Islam: Stateless Nations and Nationless States   [open pdf - 2MB]

"This paper does not presume to offer policy solutions, but to provide the first step in their formulation--a context in which the political landscape of the Arab-Islamic world can be understood. That Islam has been 'reinvented' by political activists as a vehicle of rejection, sometimes violent, is not surprising. This phenomenon has occurred frequently over the centuries. More perplexing, why and how have Islam and Arabism become so profoundly entrenched in the broad spectrum of modern political expression? Often interdependent, why do they occasionally function as mutually antagonistic, distinct political paradigms? Why has no other claimant in the ideological marketplace--including democracy, Marxism, socialism, and, in particular, state nationalism--been capable of sustaining itself as a viable competitor without the garb of either Arabism, or Islam, or both? Why have some Islamic activists been able to attract a wider more committed audience, including adherents to Arab nationalist movements who had been avowedly secular and had formerly opposed them? What role does foreign influence play? How do factors unique to this century contribute? How do these underlying tensions affect intra-Arab relationships; and relations with non-Arab Muslims, such as Turks and Iranian Shi'a, and non-Muslim Western states, among which is included Israel? Finally, will the 'state' be able to assert its territorial integrity and the 'legitimacy' of its representative authority?"

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McNair Paper No. 10
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Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC): http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/
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