The Myth of the Caliphate

The Political History of an Idea

Nick Danforth
Abdulhamid II, who would become one of the last Ottoman sultans and caliphs, as a prince in 1867.
Abdulhamid II, who would become one of the last Ottoman sultans and caliphs, as a prince in 1867. (W.&D. DOWNEY / Jebulon)
Western pundits and nostalgic Muslim thinkers alike have built up a narrative of the caliphate as an enduring institution, central to Islam and Islamic thought between the seventh and twentieth centuries. In fact, the caliphate is a political or religious idea whose relevance has waxed and waned according to circumstance.
Postscript

Executive Disorder

Lauren Carasik
Obama's executive order will provide much needed humanitarian relief to some law-abiding undocumented immigrants. But it will do nothing for the unaccompanied minors and families whose desperate flight to the United States last summer may have finally pushed the White House to act.
Postscript

Zombie Abenomics

Richard Katz
Abe’s economic revival is hardly going as planned. A consumption tax hike that he introduced in April triggered a recession over the following six months, prompting him to announce the delay of a second planned hike and to vow to dissolve the Japanese parliament.
Capsule Review

Today's Book: In 100 Years

Richard N. Cooper
In 1930, John Maynard Keynes gave a famous lecture in which he took an uncharacteristic stab at forecasting the distant future, 100 years away. Palacios-Huerta saw fit to repeat this thought experiment and invited ten prominent economists to imagine economic life circa 2114.
Snapshot
Jed Ober

Afghanistan's new unity government is not a step forward in the country's political development. Without deeper reforms, the temporary measure will only worsen the country's democratic malaise.  

A chimney is reflected in a puddle polluted with chemicals at an industrial area of the western Indian city of Surat, November 2
Snapshot
Scott Moore

China and the United States were once the greatest barriers to a comprehensive global climate agreement. No longer: India is now the last stumbling block standing in the way. It's still possible, however, to get New Delhi on board. Washingtion just needs to offer the right incentives.

Demonstrators in front of the White House, November 6, 2014.
Postscript
Marvin Ammori

Last week, Obama finally stepped up to the plate, releasing a video and a detailed plan calling on the FCC to adopt the “the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality.” It was the most accurate, well-informed, and important statement ever issued by a public official on the topic of Internet freedom.

Flags near the UN.
Snapshot
Rebecca M. Aragon and Jean M. Flannery

Foreign sovereign employers often assume that they are immune from U.S. court jurisdiction. That isn't exactly true, and believing it could be a costly mistake.

AMISOM soldiers patrol near stockpiles of charcoal close to the Kismayo sea port, February 27, 2013.
Snapshot
Tom Keatinge

To take out al Shabab, one need look no further than charcoal. The United Nations has repeatedly called for countries in the region to disrupt the group’s trade in this environmentally destructive product, but, as the most recent Somalia UN Monitoring Group report revealed, such efforts have been lackluster. With its patience wearing thin, the UN has now taken matters into its own hands by approving a naval intervention.

Snapshot
Hussein Kalout

The conflict in Syria has divided Lebanon into two distinct camps, with tensions between them worsening by the day. If both sides fail to compromise, the country will again be plunged into civil war.

The two sides are at such odds that it will be impossible in the short term to solve the country's crisis. But its most damaging effects can be mitigated by reminding all parties of the many advantages of Lebanon's traditional consensus-based style of politics.

Discussion