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No. 115 / 2017

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Tim Boxer


Militant Islamist IdeologyThe Islam That Threatens

ADICAL Islam, in the form of a newly emerging caliphate Islamic State seeking hegemony in the Middle East, requires deep insight in recognizing the danger it poses for the liberal world.

Cmdr. Youssef H. Aboul-Enein, an officer in the Naval Medical Service Corps, born in Mississippi and raised in Saudi Arabia, who has advised the intelligence community, lays out a blueprint to help us understand what we in the West are up against.

In Militant Islamist Ideology, published by the U.S. Naval Institute, Aboul-Enein opens with the requisite definitions of the threat that confronts the West. Foremost are the Militant Islamists, an extremely narrow interpretation of the Holy Quran that stands viciously opposed not only to Western democracies but to all Islamist political parties that participate non-violently in elections. This is the aim of the old al-Qaida and the new ISIS (Islamic State).

Second, you have political Islamists who seek to implement sharia law as the basis of an Islamist state, like the Muslim Brotherhood attempted in Egypt (which the Egyptians repudiated after the Brotherhood triumphed in elections).

Third, you have Islam, the faith of 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, with a variety of subdivisions such as the majority Sunni, Shia, Alawi (a Shia offshoot followed by Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad), Ismaili, Zaydiyah, Ibadi, Sufi and others.

Thus it is the Militant Muslims we should focus on, as they are the ones who represent an immediate threat to the United States. Don’t confuse them with the Islamists (such as Turkey’s ex-Prime Minister and now President Recep Tayyip Erdogan) who, although "desiring the establishment of an Islamic state that might bear animosity toward the United States, wish to achieve changes within the political frameworks" of their countries without the violent methods of the Militant Islamists.

The purpose of Aboul-Enein’s book is to define the threat "precisely as Militant Islamist Ideology and disaggregate it from Islamists and Islam." Naval Institute Press, soft cover, 253 pages, $19.95 Amazon.com Price: $17.14)

World OrderEnd Of World Order?

VEN at 91, the Nobel laureate Henry Kissinger is as sharp and wise as he’s ever been during his years as national security advisor and then secretary of state in the Nixon and Ford administrations. In his compelling new book, World Order, Kissinger fears for the future of the global Westphalian system of coexistence between sovereign states as established at the end of the Thirty Years War of 1618-48, a religious war between the long-ruling Catholics and the upstart Protestants that wiped out a quarter of the population of Central Europe.

This new pattern of live and let live, in which independent states refrained from interfering in each other’s domestic affairs, has lasted till the present day.

This system is being threatened by jihadists all over the Middle East (al-Qaeda and most notably ISIS), who are trying to supersede the independent state with a regional or global caliphate under one ruler, following the example of the Prophet Muhammad. What does the future hold for succeeding generations: worldwide shariah or a balance of powers that will enable people to live in peace and harmony? Kissinger has contributed an immensely valuable study of our current situation. Penguin Press, 432 pages, $36.00 Amazon.com Price: $21.60)


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The Beatles and Me On Tour by Ivor Davis


CAPTURE THE MAGIC Leafing through this colorful book, with page after page of sublime images of nature and environment, I grew steadily envious of Jack Dykinga’s skill at creating such gorgeous pictures. How does he do it? He tells you how, by delivering on the book’s subtitle: Train Your Eye, Improve Your Photographic Composition. On one page he presents a remarkable image of landscape, and on the facing page he briefly describes his approach. For a photograph of a waterfall at Blue Hen Falls in Ohio, he used a wide-angle lens to place falls as the focal point for the eye. "I wanted the viewer to see the brilliant foreground and follow the stream to the falls," he says of his photo on page 50. Then he switched to a medium telephoto lens and "increased the relative size of the falls by emphasizing its scale beneath the forest" and voila! the second photo is so much superior in beauty and wonder. There is much to learn in creating fine art photographs in the wondrous landscape and Dykinga, honored as 2011 Outstanding Photographer of the Year by the Nature Photographers of North America, is an excellent instructor. Rocky Nook, soft cover, 182 pages, $39.95 Amazon.com Price: $25.34)

THE MODERN HISTORY OF IRAQTHE MODERN HISTORY OF IRAQ Is there still a future for Iraq? After the ISIS dust settles, will there still exist a country called Iraq? Historian Phebe Marr, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Middle East Institute, has given us a well-written biography of this much ravaged state, putting into historical perspective the current upheavals that afflict the area. The area may have originated as the much vaunted Mesopotamia but in its modern version it became a pathetic home for various rivals who simply refused or could not live side by side—unless held together in the grip of one dictator or another. Westview Press/Perseus, paper, 496 pages, $65.00 Amazon.com Price: used and new from $51.47)

MERRIAM-WEBSTER’S COLLEGIATE THESAURUSMERRIAM-WEBSTER’S COLLEGIATE THESAURUS I found this second edition most helpful, as it provides definitions (like a dictionary) as well as synonyms (that you look for in a word finder). This edition also provides not only a slew of synonyms with the exact meaning of words you already have, but goes further by offering lists of related words that may prove useful. (Merriam-Webster, 1162 pages, $21.95 Amazon.com Price: $11.96)


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