Mosque and State in Iraq

Policy Review, No. 121 (October & November 2003) pp. 65-73

The Taliban Theocracy: Changing Iraq, Current, No. 459 (January 2004), pp. 28-32

Iraq: Dall’Islam Soft Arriva la Democrazia, Vita e Pensiero, (March & April, 2004), pp. 22-28

9 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2012

See all articles by Amitai Etzioni

Amitai Etzioni

The George Washington University

Date Written: 2003

Abstract

United States, in Iraq and elsewhere, should cease promoting a secular civil society as the only alternative to a Taliban-like Shia theocracy. We cannot quell the religious yearnings of millions of Iraqis (and many others elsewhere) merely by fostering strong political and economic institutions and the sound values they embody - to wit, democracy and capitalism. The most effective way to counter a theocracy is to include moderate, liberal religious elements in the civil society we are helping to erect. The First Amendment's disestablishment clause is not a foreign policy tool, but a peculiarly American conception. Just because the American government is banned from promoting religion within the United States does not mean that the State Department and the Pentagon cannot promote religion overseas in societies that are undergoing profound societal changes. This last point is crucial: Overseas we are participating as a key architect and builder of new institutions; ,we are in what social scientists call "the design business." This is quite distinct from what we do at home: shoring up a solid social structure designed two centuries ago, careful not to rock the foundations or undermine the pillars on which it stands. In Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other Third World countries, we participate in the ground-breaking, foundation-laying stage, one in which elements we can take for granted at home - such as a thriving religious life within civil society - must be provided.

Suggested Citation

Etzioni, Amitai, Mosque and State in Iraq (2003). Policy Review, No. 121 (October & November 2003) pp. 65-73; Iraq: Dall’Islam Soft Arriva la Democrazia, Vita e Pensiero, (March & April, 2004), pp. 22-28. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2157165

Amitai Etzioni (Contact Author)

The George Washington University ( email )

2100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Suite 4058
Washington, DC 20037
United States

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