In This Review

A Sense of Siege: The Geopolitics of Islam and the West
A Sense of Siege: The Geopolitics of Islam and the West
By Graham E. Fuller and Ian O. Lesser
Westview Press, 1995, 193 pp

The clash of civilizations thesis is tackled head-on in this book and found wanting. Or is it? The authors begin with a sensible criticism of those who overgeneralize by speaking of "Islam" and "the West," as if these categories were especially helpful. But almost despite themselves, they fall back on these same abstractions as they analyze the issues that divide the two regions. Still, the main theme in this wide-ranging essay is that most conflict in the lands of Islam is among Muslims, that the West does not face an unmanageable threat, and that both sides in this age-old rivalry need to make some efforts to avoid a new Cold War between the West and Islam. On balance, this is a non-alarmist account of political Islam, arguing for inclusion of Islamic activists as a way of ensuring evolutionary rather than revolutionary change. The authors expect that somewhere in the Arab world, most likely in Algeria, another Islamic republic will be formed, but this prospect does not particularly alarm them.