An Arab Exit Strategy

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1 missed call

1 Missed Call: An unexploded IED in Iraq [Girard Alexandre / Flickr]

On last night’s show we discussed Iraq exit strategies. We’re there now, but how do we get out? Should we stay or should we go? And if we go, when? And how? And what do we leave behind? And under what circumstances?

Tonight we’re having the same conversation, but instead of talking to American military strategists, we’ll be talking about exit plans from the Arab perspective, with some of the region’s top thinkers. Including Syrian philosopher, cultural historian and human rights activist Sadik Jalal Al-Azm. Some things we want to hear from them: Do they buy Colin Powell’s Pottery Barn analogy? Can the US make things better by staying longer? What will Iran do once we leave? And Syria? And Israel? What else?

Sadik Al-Azm

Emeritus Professor of modern European philosophy, University of Damascus

Recipient of the 2004 Erasmus Prize

Visiting scholar, Princeton University

[In studio in Princeton, NJ]

Vali Nasr

Professor at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Contemporary Conflict

Author, Islamic Leviathan: Islam and the Making of State Power

[On the phone from California]

Vahal Abdulrahman

Researcher with the Iraqi Memory Foundation

Blogger, Dear Baghdad (no longer active)

[In our Boston studio]

Extra Credit Reading

Sadik J. Al-Azm, Time Out of Joint: Western dominance, Islamist terror, and the Arab imagination, Boston Review, October/November 2004

Vali Nasr, Testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, July 14, 2004 (PDF)

Ammar Abdulhamid, Rumors, Facts and Heresies!, Amarji – A Heretic’s Blog, March 3, 2005

Iraq Memory Foundation

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  • nother

    You asked the question, “what will we leave behind?” Oil, Oil, Oil! We will not be leaving uless the oil comes with us. I’m still confused, who owns the rights to the oil over there now? How does the bottom line break down? Maybe you could do a show on the oil factor.

    What I would like to know from your guest’s tonight is, does the average person over there feel that we came to take oil, to spread our religion, or to spread capitalism?

  • Franz Hartl

    Looks like a good show tonight, and, for this theory nerd, that is a nice article in the Boston Review,

    A few thoughts:

    1. While the crusades were a boondangle, it whipped the Occident out of a deep slumber and reminded Europe of its intellectual past; for example Aquinas learned about Aristotle from the Moors. We don’t have the Renaissance without Europe knocking up against Islam. So we can hope that this latest encounter will lead to a rebirth of great Islamic thought. The solution is larger than Iraq, it is about nursing back to health this great culture.

    2. I would like to hear Sadik Al-Azam speak about the concept of Time and Islamic thought. How can the consumerist America that can’t remember last week engage in dialogue with a culture that is forever in touch with the past?

    3. Can Y’all put a torch to the thought of Sam Huntington, we really need to get out of this Clash of Civilizations framework, it is like some apocalyptic self fulfilling prophecy.

    4. How does a secularist west engage a culture that finds God in all things?

    5. Are we asking to much with Democracy or should we have a goal of Tolerance and Decency. Is the Millet system a worthy model?

  • David

    Franz Hartl:

    Great questions all! Welcome to Open Source; stay awhile. For you and for everyone else out there, I can tell you that these are the kinds of questions that are most likely to make it on the air: clear and concise, but informed and interesting. The kind of questions that, you just have a sense, will lead to compelling answers. (And believe me, the concise part is as important as any of the criteria on the list.) Brendan is getting his blog boy voice ready right now…

  • Franz, the link to Millet is messed up. Try:

  • mnye

    I second the question nother asked above. I never hear anything about the oil and the permanent bases from people who say the U.S. should pull out of Iraq. I’d love it if we could pull out, but is it realistic? What would we do about the oil and the idea that we have to keep China from getting it?

  • Grumpy

    Why exactly do we (or rather, you) have to keep China from getting oil, Iraqi or otherwise? And why only China? These pesky Europeans can be a pain in the ass too. Japanese are nice, though…

  • Grumpy

    Shia takover of Iraq? Sounds promising, isn’t it?

  • bloggeddown

    I agree what was said earlier, that Iran is in control of the situation ..

    Somehow the other players in the area – primarily Saudi, Egyptian, Jordanian and Gulf States need to have more of a voice in Iraq.

    Perhaps the best way to do this is to have the UN establish some presence in place of the US and use these competing forces to balance each other out.

  • Grumpy

    Ask your guest(s) how do they like the idea of American domination of Middle East.

  • Jim

    How are the other super powers aligned with Iran, Syria, other countries? What sides, resources, & interests of Russia, China, Japan, other Asian (No Korea), EU countries, & Latin America?

  • Grumpy

    Neue Ordnung for the Middle East! Viva Chalabi!

    Where did you find that guy? Unbelievable…

  • Jim

    Unfortunately the US rush to enact regime change without adequate international alliances has left a huge void to find common ground. What is required to bring back to the Middle East table the other super powers?

  • jc

    Malcolm – Reply to your post, “malcolm Says:  October 24th, 2005 at 8:54 pm ” is at:

    which has fallen off the menu. So as not to clog a blog, any reply can be sent to:

  • Potter

    Having listened after airtime I have to say that this show and the show that preceded were both excellent. Not only were the guests very well chosen but Chris astonished with his very sharp questions and management of the discussion.