In the January/February 2008 issue of Foreign Policy magazine, Graham E. Fuller, former Vice Chair of the National Intelligence Council of the CIA, engages in an interesting thought experiment.
Imagine, if you will, a world without Islam—admittedly an almost inconceivable state of affairs given its charged centrality in our daily news headlines. Islam seems to lie behind a broad range of international disorders: suicide attacks, car bombings, military occupations, resistance struggles, riots, fatwas, jihads, guerrilla warfare, threatening videos, and 9/11 itself. Why are these things taking place? “Islam” seems to offer an instant and uncomplicated analytical touchstone, enabling us to make sense of today’s convulsive world. Indeed, for some neoconservatives, “Islamofascism” is now our sworn foe in a looming “World War III.”
But indulge me for a moment. What if there were no such thing as Islam? What if there had never been a Prophet Mohammed, no saga of the spread of Islam across vast parts of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa?
Given our intense current focus on terrorism, war, and rampant antiAmericanism—some of the most emotional international issues of the day—it’s vital to understand the true sources of these crises. Is Islam, in fact, the source of the problem, or does it tend to lie with other less obvious and deeper factors? For the sake of argument, in an act of historical imagination, picture a Middle East in which Islam had never appeared. Would we then be spared many of the current challenges before us? Would the Middle East be more peaceful? How different might the character of EastWest relations be? Without Islam, surely the international order would present a very different picture than it does today. Or would it?
The entire article can be viewed here.
If readers would like to ask any questions of Professor Fuller, they can send them to FP by this Friday, January 25, and the magazine will publish his answers here on January 31.