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
Date Written: 2003
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.
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