My Brother, My Enemy: America and the Battle of Ideas Across the Islamic World

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9781616141844: My Brother, My Enemy: America and the Battle of Ideas Across the Islamic World

This kaleidoscopic tour behind the frontlines of the war of ideas assesses US efforts to persuade Muslims that Americans respect their rights and interests, while we fight wars and promote our interests. The author draws on his extensive travels in the Muslim world and interviews with a cross-section of the population including students, intellectuals, insurgents and politicians. For an American perspective, the author conducted candid interviews with US military officers, diplomats, and regional experts.

Smucker describes turmoil within the Islamic realm and our efforts to project "soft power" into a world that remains misunderstood. He assesses both our failures and successes in Israel and Palestine, Egypt, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Saharan Africa.

Several themes resonate through these interviews. One is that the Muslim world is looking for consistent engagement from the US, particularly in regard to Israeli-Palestinian peace. After decades of paying lip service to the ideal of peace in the Middle East, the author shows why it is crucial for the Obama Administration to push forcefully for a two-state solution. Another is that the US must discontinue its policy of backing authoritarian regimes that oppress their people. In the eyes of everyday Muslims, such tactics make a mockery of our claim to be the champion of individual liberty. Muslims, many of whom already support democratic change, will only be convinced of America’s good will, says the author if our actions speak louder than our words. 

This revealing, vividly told narrative by a daring and experienced journalist with firsthand knowledge of the events and people in conflict areas offers unforgettable insights into the Muslim world’s hopes and fears as well as our own crucial diplomatic overtures and military campaigns across the Islamic world.

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About the Author:

Philip Smucker (Alexandria, VA) is an independent journalist, a documentary filmmaker, and author of the highly acclaimed Al-Qaeda’s Great Escape: The Military and the Media on Terror’s Tail, which broke the story of Osama bin Laden’s escape. He has spent the last twenty-two years as an overseas reporter, covering conflicts across many countries including Haiti, Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Cambodia. He received three Pulitzer nominations for his reporting and has worked and written for many publications, including McClatchy Newspapers, the Atlantic Monthly, Christian Science Monitor, Daily Telegraph, Asia Times, U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, and Time. He has appeared on national television and radio as an expert on the Islamic world, including on the Today show, Good Morning America, Nightline, Hardball with Chris Matthews, CNN, and The Diane Rehm Show.

Review:

"My Brother, My Enemy is a riveting, first-hand account of the war on terror--and what has gone wrong with it--since 9/11. Philip Smucker has met, talked to, and even lived with Jihadists from Yemen to Iraq, Timbuktu to Waziristan. He tells the story of what happens when America goes abroad 'in search of monsters to destroy.'" --Paul Wood, BBC Mideast Correspondent, Jerusalem

"Philip Smucker makes an impassioned argument for understanding and reconciliation. Traversing a broad swath of the world's great Islamic societies, from northern Africa to Indonesia , he mingles a multitude of personal experiences with insights and analysis. The ultimate goal is peaceful resolution of the great 'war on terror' that pits U.S.-led forces against a wide range of enemies. He avoids demonizing either or any side in a search for a better way of both waging war and making peace. As the title suggests, our enemies also are our brothers, and the war will end only when we recognize our common bond as people with similar yearnings, hopes, and fears....The author himself sides only with a desire to resolve conflict. He suggests how in a final section devoted to sensitive and colorful first-person reporting from the battlegrounds of Afghanistan . Moving from there to the plain at West Point , he offers criticism and advice that those closest to the war zone may want to consider seriously." --Donald Kirk, Asia expert, correspondent, Christian Science Monitor, author of Korea Betrayed

"Philip Smucker has drawn upon his many years of on-the-ground reporting in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia to craft a practical and astute assessment of America's standing in the Islamic world. He disdains the hyperbolic and fear-mongering rhetoric that so many politicians and pundits favor about the clash between America and Islamic extremists, and instead offers a reasoned analysis of America's challenge. Moreover, he correctly identifies the key to any potential American success in its 'battle of ideas'--brokering an even-handed solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict." --Michael K. Bohn, former director of the Reagan White House's Situation Room and author of The Achille Lauro Hijacking: Lessons in the Politics and Prejudice of Terrorism.

"Philip Smucker has written a deeply reported and engaging account of his long journey across the worlds of Islam from Iraq to Indonesia (and even to Timbuktu!). During that journey he delivers a lively account of the state of play between the West and the 'Muslim world' that will be of great interest to readers of all types. A terrific read with many wise things to say about the often difficult nature of the Western-Islamic relationship." --Peter Bergen, author of Holy War, Inc. and The Osama bin Laden I Know.

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