Book Reviews

Why Accuracy can be Disturbing

Dr. Walid Phares is brilliant — there is no other way to describe him. Of Lebanese origin, he has emerged as one of the world’s leading academics and analysts of Middle Eastern politics due to his extensive knowledge of local conditions, intellectual courage, incisive mind, and an enviable clarity of expression. His latest book, The War of Ideas: Jihadism Against Democracy (Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2007) showcases these abilities; yet it remains a disturbing book.

It is no secret that there is a wide cultural gap between Middle Eastern Arabs and Westerners; but the Western World’s failure to understand how Arab elites think and what they believe is profound. Unsurprisingly, they reject the very ideas of liberality and modernism; but their war against the West is at once larger and more subtle than we realize. Phares maps out just who is in the Jihad movement and what they are doing to sap our ability to react to it. The terrorism of al Qaeda and company is only the tip of the iceberg. As a part of that minority of Arab intellectuals and reformers who know exactly what is going on, his warnings must be taken seriously.

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