RAND Corporation's Ungracious Strategy For Islam

Category: Americas, World Affairs Topics: Muslim World Views: 6623

"Muslims Searching For Partners"

The Rand Corporation is an old well established and influential think tank that has the reputation of being objective in its approach. It publishes occasional papers on Islam and Muslims that have been thoughtful and provocative. I therefore approached Cheryl Benard's white paper "Civil Democratic Islam: Partners, Resources and Strategies" with reasonably high expectations. One of my expectations was that the author would be proposing ways of conducting a civil dialogue between the Muslim community, which by and large is both moderate and peaceful, and elements in the West that could be persuaded to be fair and balanced. I was quickly disappointed.

Failure to Thrive.

The premise from which the author begins is that the Muslim world is sick, has a "failure to thrive", and additionally has "a loss connection to the global mainstream". Unless it is influenced by outside sources, the author believes, the Islamic world would both implode into serious instability and explode into major violence. The implication that the fault lies entirely with the Muslim world and the West needs to fix it is unsettling and inaccurate. 

Is it not possible that the "failure to thrive", a curious term that is used by pediatricians to describe children who are not gaining proper weight, might be because of the manner in which the West has exploited Muslim lands during the colonial years and continues to do so now through various ploys like globalization. Could it be the Western foreign policy that firmly promoted "national self interest" and preservation of the "status quo" has something to do with the failure of political institutions to thrive in Muslim countries? The new paradigm of US foreign policy is to see the world in solid black and white. No gray areas are allowed, no nuances appreciated and no self-criticism entertained. Failure to thrive is not always due to endogenous causes but may also be due to exogenous reasons and often due to both. 

The failure of democracy to thrive in Iran for a long time was because Britain and the US killed it when they got rid of the reformist Mosaddeq. Algerian democracy was nipped in the bud because of the fear that the party expected to come into power favored Islam over secularism. All of the current dictators, kings, illiberal democracies[1] and occupying nations in the Middle-East owe their survival at least in part to the West. The ruler of Uzbekistan, ironically named Islam Karimov, is every bit as brutal and ruthless as Saddam Hussein and yet is supported by the US and its Western allies. For all the rhetoric about bringing democracy to the Middle East the US policy remains as conflicted and inconsistent as ever.

Democracy is the best form of governance available but for Muslims all over the world justice and protection of the minorities is equally important. Democracy can become a plutocracy as it is happening in the US with no real voice for dispersed minorities like the Muslims. Democracy is possible in Muslim countries. Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh, the three most populous Muslim nations, are democratic. Separation of church and state is also an important issue. There has been historically a de facto separation of church and state in Muslim countries with the piety minded acting as the conscience of the community opposing the Caliph. 

Loss of Connection (Of Muslims) To the Global Mainstream.

The other major problem that the white paper identifies is a "loss of connection (of Muslims) to the global mainstream". What is not mentioned in the RAND analysis is that the reason for the alienation of Muslims from the West, is the issue of "double standards" the West so brazenly practices when dealing with Muslim nations. Could it be that the reason for Muslims feel disconnected with the global mainstream is this one sided and even callous manner in which legitimate Muslim issues like the grievances and rights of people in Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya and other region are dealt with? Issues that loom large on the Muslim radar seem not appear to register at all on the West's radar. 

I wonder when the author uses the word term "global" does she mean "Western" or is it that in her mind the "West" is the "globe"? The use of the word global by the author reminds of the "world series" of major league baseball played between two US cities like New York and Chicago. Does this global mainstream include Africa and Asia?

The Muslim Plurality.

The author shows some understanding of the ongoing "struggle within Islam" and the plurality of views amongst Muslims. This is an improvement over the prevailing practice of looking at Muslims as one monolithic entity but lacks sufficient depth. Using what she calls "marker issues" like democracy, beating your wife and polygamy the author attempts to pigeonhole Muslims into four categories, the fundamentalists, traditionalists, modernists and secularists and even more sub categories. I attempted to stratify myself and my close friends into one of these four suggested categories. I found that using the author's "marker issues" approach I could place myself at least two of the four groupings and remembered that occasionally I have been called as belonging to one of the other two groups. I have seen as much spousal abuse among non-Muslims as Muslims if not more. The label one might acquire is as dependant on one's own views on an issue as it is on the labelers own perspective. To someone to my right in the spectrum I might be a liberal and to others to my left I would be a conservative. Issues are nuanced and the position of an individual on a particular issue may vary.

Reading through this monograph it soon becomes apparent that the author's attempt at understanding the complex and continuous Muslim intellectual spectrum is not to positively influence the "struggle within Islam" but to find out ways to manipulate it. This should not have surprised me as the paper is published by the "National securities research division" of RAND. Nevertheless it is both ungracious and disappointing.

The RAND Recipe to Influence Muslims.

Using this approach of identifying the various types of Muslims, the author encourages the West to interact with those that follow the Hanafi school of law rather than those that are Wahabi. I am in fact a Hanafi. I know that as a fact because my Mom told me so. Nevertheless Imam Hanifa, whose school of law is called Hanafi, would probably not recognize me as one of the followers of his tradition. In fact most Muslims do not follow one or the other schools of legal thought assiduously. Their belonging to a legal tradition is a function of birth in a country where that tradition may be prevalent. It is convenience as much as tradition that seems to drive most Muslim practice. There are liberals and conservatives in each school of thought. The generalizations that the author proposes are divorced from reality.

The author advises the West to augment the "modernist", boost the "traditionalist", confront the "fundamentalist", help the Sufis overcome their opponents and selectively prop up the "secularist". I missed the author's advice on dealing among others with Shafi'is, Malikis and Tablighis. Where does the author think the West should come down between the Shia and the Sunni? 

Has the author wondered that outside attempts at manipulating and sowing discord could be counterproductive for the West and might actually bring these various groups together? The recipe the author provides to help in the resolution of the political, theological and cultural dilemma Muslims are caught in is both cynical and naive. It reminds me of the old and failed British colonial policy of "divide and conquer". Any attempt to follow this advice would be a sure prescription for failure and would cause further polarization. 

Muslims Looking For Partners For A Network Of The Just.

The author Benard would have done better to focus on the concept of justice and fair play when dealing with nations and people. There should be no double standard and there should be a balance and evenhandedness in dealing with legitimate Muslim grievances and rights of oppressed Muslims and all minorities. It is only by establishing a network of the just can humanity hope to achieve the high ideals it is capable of and attain a peaceful and prosperous future. Muslims all over the world are looking for partners among all people including the Western nations that may be persuaded to be impartial. Muslims in their current plight as they look for creative solutions for the future would welcome friends with genuine good intentions. 

Javeed Akhter, is the Executive Director of the Chicago based International Strategy and Policy Institute and he is the author of the book "The seven phases of Prophet Muhammad's Life,"


[1] Fareed Zakariya's term

Excerpts from the RAND paper: "Civil Democratic Islam: Partners, Resources and Strategies"

There is no question that contemporary Islam is in a volatile state, engaged in an internal and external struggle over its values, its identity, and its place in the world. Rival versions are contending for spiritual and political dominance. This conflict has serious costs and economic, social, political, and security implications for the rest of the world. Consequently, the West is making an increased effort to come to terms with, to understand, and to influence the outcome of this struggle.

Clearly, the United States, the modern industrialized world, and indeed the international community as a whole would prefer an Islamic world that is compatible with the rest of the system: democratic, economically viable, politically stable, socially progressive, and follows the rules and norms of international conduct. They also want to prevent a "clash of civilizations" in all of its possible variants-from increased domestic unrest caused by conflicts between Muslim minorities and "native" populations in the West to increased militancy across the Muslim world and its consequences, instability and terrorism.

It therefore seems judicious to encourage the elements within the Islamic mix that are most compatible with global peace and the international community and that are friendly to democracy and modernity. However, correctly identifying these elements and finding the most suitable way to cooperate with them is not always easy.

Islam's current crisis has two main components: a failure to thrive and a loss of connection to the global mainstream. At the same time, the Islamic world has fallen out of step with contemporary global culture, an uncomfortable situation for both sides.

Muslims disagree on what to do about this, and they disagree on what their society ultimately should look like. We can distinguish four essential positions:

  • Fundamentalists reject democratic values and contemporary Western culture.

  • Traditionalists want a conservative society. They are suspicious of modernity, innovation, and change.

  • Modernists want the Islamic world to become part of global modernity. They want to modernize and reform Islam to bring it into line with the age.

  • Secularists want the Islamic world to accept a division of church and state in the manner of Western industrial democracies, with religion relegated to the private sphere.

  • Support the modernists first:

  • Support the traditionalists against the fundamentalists:

  • Confront and oppose the fundamentalists:

  • Selectively support secularists:

  Category: Americas, World Affairs
  Topics: Muslim World
Views: 6623

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Older Comments:
It is too bad Nick that you don't understand economic theory since you are happy to tell others how to run their economies. I had hoped you understood the problems of a "tight money supply" and its effect on a nations economy. It doesn't take much thought to notice that a country that is successful at developing will likely have a tight money supply. (increasing development requiring more money and being put off because of the lack of it) When you add the problem of the supply side creating poverty to the problem on the demand side creating poverty from joining a market and you get a nut cracker effect on the economy. If the developing country borrows money to relieve the tight money supply they can find themselves in another nut cracker.

Try reading to the letter to congress in this: http://www.sherline.com/business.htm
to get an idea as to the trouble it can create. If a country has trouble with its "accounts receivable" in its development (it can't get the cash back to make the loan payment) it will find its nuts in a cracker as the expectations of the populous (which needs greater money supply for development) counters those of the IMF and world bank that want the loan payment made on time.

The typical response of the IMF and world bank is to require "austerity" programs which tighten the money supply even further, thereby stunting further development of the economy. The stunting of the economy makes getting the money up to pay the interest harder yet, yet that interest keeps accumulating exponentially. Soon the countries leadership has to start selling the countries natural resources at what ever price they can get. And since it is now a buyers market, they don't get enough to pay off the interest.

One shouldn't assign to malice what can be assigned to ignorance but wouldn't you think the folks in the IMF and world bank would have actually studied economic theory sufficiently to know that it is a trap.

The universal principles and values of Islam supports universal values of humanity. It does not differentiate one race from another neither does it promote individualism and so on. The question that is infront of us now is how do we empower the whole of mankind with balance.

If we look at the concept of acting locally but influencing globally the following issues will arise:

- If the local entity is not functioning properly how can it influence globally e.g rich countries can not feed and educate their own

- Equally turning the pryamid upside down to empower our own first especially those from the grass root level will bring its own problem e.g communication breakdown , issues such as class, racism, individualism, will emerge shaking the very foundation that humanity is build on.

Let us face it the basic principles of Islam such as respect for human rights,advancing knowledge without localising it among others are principles not even supported by muslim countries themselves. We can have dialogue with the west to advance the universal principles of Islam since it does not clash with western civilization.

Equally muslim countries regardles of which part they live in should advance these universal values. It is hard since we all know that the basic block of advancing humanity is respecting human rights. We are all failing in this aspect.

The universal values/polices of Islam supports the value that each one of us is a guardian of his or her brother in humanity.Until such concept is achieved where we see each other as humans rather than statistics I am afraid we have a long journey infront of us.

The universal principles of Islam provides solution to each century. Muslims must constantly update thir knowledge to share these values with the global community

I will conclude with a verse from the Quran where God says:

7:181 Of those We have created are people who direct (others) with truth. And dispense justice therewith

Oops, I didn't finish what I was saying to Charles Jacks. Here's the rest:

...In truth, this is excellent news for our languishing tourism industry, since it means that American vacationers will now choose cheaper domestic spots over foreign destinations which, due to the weak dollar, has become more expensive. Moreover, it means that private small-time investors like myself will choose to keep their money here since our dollar just doesn't go as far abroad. The quality of our goods and services are still top-notch, and the state of the dollar won't change that no matter how far it falls. So why not go for the bargain buys?

I think we're doing OK, and the next few years will likely prove me right unless there's another major terrorist attack.

Charles Jacks (See? I remembered the *s* this time!):

I know what "bootstrap" means, since my professors in my law school used it a lot, lol.

Regarding the EU's food supply problems, I'm no economist (which is why I didn't understand much of what you said) but it seems to me that there might be a simple solution. Currently, European tarriffs on agricultural exports are so high that African and Near Eastern farmers can't compete in the EU. Lower those tarriffs and they can flood Eastern Europe with enough exports to lower prices. Not only that, but it would also allow for these poorer agricultural countries to use their increased trade revenue for investment in their development. And we go back to what I mentioned in earlier comments.

Of course I recognize the downside of this that you alluded to with your India example. While I'm not certain I agree that Indian farmers would never profit unless they export, I concede that many probably do in order to increase their margins. Would it be bad for many Indians to go hungry as a consequence of growth through global commerce? Absolutely. At the same time, if India does not develop then it will remain a weak country on the global stage. It's a trade-off no matter how you look at it, but the Indians seemed to have decided to cope with the shocks that often accompany this kind of rapid change.

Regarding the U.S. economy, experts both here and abroad have been predicting gloom and doom for our economy since the 70s. While on paper they have produced clever models demonstrating how it'll happen, we should note that none of that has panned out yes. And frankly I don't see it. America has a vibrant labor force, a healthy R&D sector, and land that's one of the richest in terms of natural resources. Even our "bad" times aren't as bad as those of many other developed countries. Sure our dollar is weak now, but so what?

Johannes is misrepresenting my comments, perhaps intentionally. I never claimed that America helped Japan and Germany out of mere "benevolent altruisim". Nor have I claimed that Germany developed under a system of laissez-faire economc policies.

For johannes and others who have misinterpreted/misrepresented my comments, I will repeat what I said. Commercial partnerships between Muslim countries and the West, especially America, would help impoverished Muslim countries generate revenue that their governments can use to promote economic development. This is not simply the idea of a "card carrying republican" (in fact, I'm really more a Libertarian than a Republican or even Democrat), but an idea that has actualized itself in the history. It is no accident that affluent countries have strong trade ties with America, for all of those countries realize that such relationships are vital to their economic well-being. Governments in Muslim countries would do well to take note.

salamu alaykum
nick proposed the oft-expressed misnomer that america, in its benevolent altruism, brought democracy, capitalism and everything angelic to japan, germany et al.
lets clear things up by first stating the obvious. japan and germany have always been economic power-houses irrespective of the american capitalist machine. japan with its philosophy of the individual worker adopted post 19th cent, and germany since the late enlightenment period. germany in just a few years brought itself up from the cauldrons of economic obscurity to being the second most advanced state on the planet shortly before ww2.
american, nor british styled laissez-faire policies were implimented in either of the economies mentioned.
in reference to china, this govt has been trying with all its might to stop its economic - ergo military growth. leading one right wing lunatic to claim on cnn that a confrontation is inevitable. the usa has never involved itself in the betterment of a nation where there werent resources to pilfer. i'd like nick cameron or any other card carrying republican here to relieve me of my ignorance .. quite sure there wont be a nation named.

Having read the actual RAND report, I have really found this article very insightful and to the point. I definitely agree with the analysis.

Well Nick I guess I am showing my age when I use the term "bootstrap". Use to be one bootstrapped one's computer. The concept was that a small program would load a larger one, which loaded a larger one still, which loaded the operating system. It was called "pulling oneself up by one's own bootstraps. Now days they just say "boot" or "turn own". Like a seedling plant that uses the energy from its first leaves to grow its second set and then from these the third, the growth of an economy can be exponentially increasing if profit can be turned back into the economy. However, if the profit leaves the country there can be no growth.
The distribution of income in an economy should follow a curve similar to the thermodynamic "Maxwell" distribution: slow rise to an early peak with a decreasing but long tail. Since this distribution is highly skewed, the mean (average income) is higher than the mode (point of the peak). Distributed price setting (by the individual marketer) causes the "cost of living" to chase a point slightly above the mean (maximizing his profits), though it never gets there. The poverty line tracks the cost of living and is always higher than some percentage of the populations income. "The poor will always be with you." A "rich" economy will have a higher peak but a longer tail and so the poverty line will shift upwards as the cost of living shifts upward toward the new mean. (lots of poor people in the US)
Draw two of these curves like that of a red hot object and a blue hot object. The poverty line of the blue hot economy will cut off a large part of the red hot economy. Search for "EU" and "food hording" on the internet and you will see that people in the poor countries joining the EU know that they will have a hard time feeding themselves when the prices for basic items goes up.

To Nick and Charles, I am glad that we are all agreeing first on empowering the rich while allowing the poor to be empowered with dignity.

In Islam there is no problem with the rich getting richer. I would say the sky is the limit. Also the misconception that women can not run their own business is also a misconception. The fact that the first wife of Prophet Mohamed(PBUH) was a businesswoman is itself empowering.

Maybe it is important to strike a balance since there are a lot of misconceptions. OK Bill Gates is a rich guy but the other positive factor that one should look at is the fact that he is contributing to world poverty through the company's philantropic projects to help the poor be it donating money or computers building computer centres and so on. This is a very good example.

Islam in now way goes against enonomic empowerement. The US is a world economy leader but one also needs to make sure that the economy reflects the changes that are taking around the globe. We need to keep economies growing but not at the expense of taking away from the poor. The fact that the WTO is not empowering poor countries who can not take part in world trade is itself defeating.

I do take part in global issues when time permits and I am sure that a lot of NGOs and pressure groups promoting the needs of poor countries will actually suplement the principles of Islam.

Where would science, education and so on be without the support of strong economy. I guess it is all about balance so at the end if we all look at our universal values of balancing global issues then I would say this would complement Islamic principles as well.

Here is an article on Economy and Islam:

I would only add that the rights of muslim women are the same as that of muslim men and any muslim nation who is not supporting this has itself to blame not Islam. I guess change can also come slowly from bottom up.

'in a global economy, time is money, the money can be made and lost, we mean business around the CLOCK'


Charles Jack, one reason why the countries I mentioned (Malaysia, Japan, Germany, Singapore Taiwan, and South Korea) did not get rich by selling commodities is that many of these countries are not resource rich. Germany is a notable exception, but that has a lot to do with the fact that its labor force was already prepared for the industrial economy. After WWII, all the Germans needed was capital to get their economy going. And America helped them on that.

At the same time, China, which happens to be both resource-rich and labor-rich, is beginning to achieve affluence. And while the country was once just one large "sweatshop", the Chinese government wisely allocated commercial revenues towards preparing their workforce for higher valued capital-intensive labor. Economists predict that in just a few decades, China will eclipse the U.S. as the economic superpower.

Fact is that many poor counties have to start somewhere, and some of them don't have the economic capacity to provide capital-intensive production at present. So they should make do with what they have, which often means cheap labor and commodity production/refining, in order to generate revenue. In time, they should be able to invest their increased revenues into education so that their labor forces can globally compete for the highly skilled jobs. That's what's happening in China, after all.

No one says that countries should "bootstrap" to the American economy. But only those ignorant of the workings of the American would ignore our domestic markets as essential to economic growth wordwide. As I said before, I can think of no affluent country in the world in which American demand does not play a role. We are the engine of the global economy, so anyone who wants to move forward needs to link up with us.

You might note Nick that the countries you mentioned have prospered by selling high value products to the US market instead of selling natural resources and buying US products. (as your first post suggested.) By high value I don't mean what can be made in a sweatshop.

There are at least two aspects that must be met. First the influx of cash must be distributed. The rich never got that way by letting money trickle down and capitalism, like democracy, requires a distribution of power to create a broad base of economically empowered ideals. Second, the distribution should encourage education, research and the pursuit of excellence in knowledge. Which is to say it must reward open minds with higher pay.

While engaging the US economy might be useful for bootstrapping an economy, it would be unwise to become dependent upon it. The world's economy has been improving much more rapidly than the US economy and that will likely be a trend for as long as the right wingers stay in power. The US is losing it on nearly every front. The stories about the US losing its edge in the sciences is just the beginning. The basic sciences are needed to develop the products that get sold. See the article titled "Bush-League Lysenkoism" on www.sciam.com for an explanation. Note what is says about "centralized ideological" misplanning.

The interesting thing about ideologues is that since they ignore reality they become unresponsive to it and one doesn't need to know future events to know what will happen to them. The environment advances and traditionalists (conservatives) become more and more obsolete and noncompetitive. Though it takes a while, the most profound method of destroying a society is to allow the traditionalists to become dominate.


I absolutely agree that the best way to achieve economic development is to involve the lower eschelons of society and not just reserve the benefits for the rich. However, knowledge, in the form of intellectual property, belongs at least initially to inventors. For example, Bill Gates invented Windows (albeit through his companies efforts), so he has the right revenue from its use. Without such incentives, how can we motivate the most innovative among us to create new technological applications?

That being said, I completely support the idea that the world is better the poor as well as the rich reap the benefits of development.

There are a lot of research on Muslims such as Globalisation, Islamic bonds, Islamic banking and so on but when it comes to implementing such enonomy it needs to be done from grass root level. It can not be imposed suddenly. For example the Grameen Bank for the poor has been very successful. Also if you visit the following website it has a lot info. on Islamic bonds: http://www.qantara.de
There are articles on Islamic Bonds:

Another article in pdf on Islam and Economics, Islam and globalisation and so on.

It is important to realise that if we are to help the poor we need to bridge the economic gap between the rich and the poor without making the rich lose their wealth and at the same empowering the poor so that everyone shares the wealth of this globe. We should have a free will.

In saying that we have a long way to go since adopting new changes requires time and patience. What is also more important than money is knowledge. Knowledge can not be owned by one nation as we live in a globe where we are all interdependent and we share human civilization that existed since mankind came to exist. The fact that so many highly skilled and dedicated professionals from different backgrounds and religions are helping world economy around the globe grow it is only fair that we are all acknowledged to honour each other with dignity and professionalism.

If we always practice the policy of take,take and take without giving back anything to the poor and our precious planet then surely the day will come when mother earth will teach us a big lesson. Such day will be too late for us to grieve for we have consumed all that is left.

Islam teaches muslims that everything that is in our planet belongs to the whole mankind. We all are the protectors of this planet including the clean air that we breath. So to fulfil this concept of universal sharing and caring is a challenge by itself.

I agree with LuluUK when she links poverty to ignorance. In fact, it is not too far from my own belief in the link between poverty and social strife, which I mentioned earlier. I believe that poor countries can can develop through a policy of participation in global commerce as well as utilizing tax revenues for educations, again as I said earlier.

I'd note that even Charles Jack agrees with me (although he didn't read my comments closely enough to realize it), since he seems to believe in the idea of "outsourcing", which is very much a commercial activity.

Dear Sharon from Ireland,
Please let me introduce myself. I am a 40 year old wife and mother of two wonderful boys here in America. I teach them to love everyone and love God more than anything else.
Obviously, you are very upset about conditions in the world. Sometimes it is easier to strike out at some big "Giant", like the US and blame it for all the evils in the world. Here in America there is every type of person that you can imagine. Good, wonderful old grannys that have dark skin, or white skin, that speak English or speak some foreign language that teach their grandchildren to be good people, are in every neighborhood here. Here you will find whole families shopping together at the grocery store, laughing and kidding eachother. That family may be from Vietnam, Peru, Africa, or Japan, or in your case, Ireland.
I know for a fact, if a terrorist attack was perpetrated on Irish soil, there would be such an American backlash about it, there would be young men and women from all over this country running to your country's defense. That is how strongly we feel about our Irish "Cousins" as it were.
Honey, sometimes it is easy to believe all the negative things that are said about our President and our policies around the world, but read and check the facts for yourself. Everyone has an opinion but just because they write it down or get on a soap box and blare it in microphones doesn't make it true.
For example, I did not know that Muslims believe almost the same things as Christians until I read the entire Koran. I found that Allah is the same Wonderful God that we true Christians serve. And that Jesus is called the Messiah and the Virgin Mary was given Jesus by the Spirit of Allah. (See: The Family of Imran & Marium) No one ever taught me that. I had to find it out myself.
"Chin up", sweetheart. Always pray for the best and believe the best.

Your Scottish, German, Cherokee friend in America,
Jane Diane Andrews

Charles Jack has probably never been to Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, or South Korea. All of these countries achieved affluence to various degrees is large part due to their exploitation of the American free market economy in a way that I believe would help poorer Muslim countries. In fact, I know of no economically successful country in the world in which trade with the United States does not play a major role. It may be true that some countries like certain states in South America haven't been able to use trade with America to develop. However, I'm of the belief that this is more due to systemic problems with those countries' respective polities rather than their economies.

Fact is that no country that wishes to develop would ever overlook the opportunities for economic that the American consumer provides. Furthermore, our economy has given birth to new technolgies that have been key to the expansion of existing markets. (This Internet is a prime example.) Without us the rest of the world, including the developed world, might languish in a post-industrial stagnation.

"Another problem is that they make themselves feel good about the model with statements like "That's because if done correctly, a common market can allow countries to optimize their respective comparative advantages for the good of the combined economy." while knowing full well that they have no intention to promote the good of the combined economy above their own"

The Europeans have thus far been able to make the common market idea work to their advantage. I would ask Charles Jack why he doesn't believe that Muslim countries would ever be able to do the same.

The last two paragraphs of Charles Jack's comments seemed too vague to warrant a response.

Charles has hit the point on an important global issue on development. We need to bridge the poverty/social imbalance between the rich and poor at local and global level. Poverty and ignorance are married to each other for life. The honey moon for this marriage is politics which empowers these two in a way that the average person can not influence or have no power to change be it at local or global.

Let us put religion to one side and see what do we have in common a lot. What unites is how to tackle global poverty this includes local issues for each country. The fact that one country is poor is related to global policies.

If we are not careful a day will come when the world will switch and we have our selves to blame for not finding solutions. Mother earth is wise and is awaiting on us to find solutions to our global problems. If there is a global warming it is not Islam that is going to save it but we mankind from accross the globe. Islam is a religion and a way of life for muslims. Muslims don't own the whole globe the whole of mankind does.

I hope we can deal with issues from global perspective and see how each nation can bring solutions to those problems without finger pointing at specific religions.

I am confident that once the solutions are found each nation will be happy with their input.

If we are save to humanity from collapsing our collective efforts are needed to find real solutions to our mother earth.

A saying from prophet Mohamed(pbuh):

-Posesors of knowledge and seekers of knowledge are the only two groups of any use to humanity.

- The most ignorant among you is the one who does not learn from the changes in the world

- Protect and honour the earth, for the earth is like your mother

- Generations before you were destroyed because they declined to punish the powerful thieves yet were relentless in punishing the small pickpockets

-Avoid stubborness, for it begins in ignorance and ends in regret

Nick Cameron's concept of improving social progress seems to be the standard method of exploitation of the developing world. Take their money and natural resources and those areas without natural resources to be shipped out can supply labor for cheap.
If you have been following the developments in South America where this model has been in the works for about a decade, you may have noticed the articles lately talking about how the populous is increasingly considering going back to either authoritarian regimes or communism.

One problem is that the people like Nick Cameron are to democracy what the Communists were to socialism. There was an editorial in my local newspaper about a group in the Republican party that is trying to run the "moderate" republicans out of the party because they aren't right ring enough. They have twisted their own brains so far to the right they can't tell right from wrong.

Another problem is that they make themselves feel good about the model with statements like "That's because if done correctly, a common market can allow countries to optimize their respective comparative advantages for the good of the combined economy." while knowing full well that they have no intention to promote the good of the combined economy above their own.

A better model would be to take the outsourcing jobs. This would employ the people that have good educations and little to apply them to, bring money into the countries, and force some contact.

A body that is constantly bleeding into its gut will "fail to prosper". As money is the blood of an economy, you must work toward bringing it in and preventing it from leaving (the opposite of Nick Cameron's concept.

"The maidservant shall become the master."

Salaams to all. I am really concerned about the title of the article. Islam is a religion and a way of living. No one can come from outside and change what Islam is. Somehow I get the feeling that we are not getting to the bottom of the real issues and hence wasting a lot of valuable time.

Islam just like christianity is a religion. The title should reflect on the solution side i.e policy. For example if we take poverty as an example and look at it from a global perspective then we can talk about what how Islam tackles global policies in relation to poverty.

The solution to global poverty does not lie with poor muslims living accross the globe but with rich countries. Poverty is the mother of all problems. Where there is poverty there is lack of education and hence the fabric of society breaks down straight away.

So if one looks at poverty and how to get rid of poverty then we can talk about i.e how muslims or christians should tackle this within the framework of their religions. This will create a dialogue on how we as global communities should tackle our global problems. Labelling everything on Islam is not going to solve the problem.

Our prophets be it Ibrahim, Solomon, Moses, Jesus and Mohamed peace be upon them all would not be suprised if they were with us today. The reason being we are not tackling issues from our hearts. Why is it so difficult to look at global issues within the context of humanity. We are all children of Adam and Eve so does it matter who comes from where and who owns what when millions of our brothers and sisters accross the globe are dying of hunger, diseases and the mother of all evil CAPITALISM.

A sayings from our prophet Mohamed(pbuh): 'Wish for others what you wish for yourself'

I hope we can all wish peace, love and harmony to for another. There is so much beauty within oursleves that we need to share globally. Hiding behind labells will not help our global vision.

Peace from my heart to you all

Thank you for your response to the Rand paper. I concur with your analysis. However, the question is now, has there been or will there be a collective Muslim response?

there is a tinge or reality in the rand article. that muslims are missing a chance to change and the dismal adoption of democracies. Though it is the west which keeps the ruthless dictators to suit its agenda but there arent people who could be called leaders worthy. as for the muslims missing the bus of change, yes we do that as we take umbrage in thinking and harping of our glorious past and little to think of the present and the future.
let us take this criticzm as a constructive idea and work in the direction of advancement. I personally feel it is a matter of time the muslim juggernaut will roll in a matter of1 or 2 decades as the suppression and exploitation by the powers that be are instilling a spirit of intellectual, scientific and logical force in every second muslim i came across.
I only wish when this happens the muslims should not become arrogant and extremists as the zionists or the blood thirsty bajrang dals.

Assalaamu'Alaiykum, hahaha....good 1 Johannes. But at the same time it's so true! Wassalaam.

A fascinating take on my comments from johannes. I advocate economic development for the Muslim world as well as increased commercial cooperation with America, and he accuses me of being like Foxnews. One wonders if he'd prefer to see much of the Muslim world remain mired in poverty.

salamu alaykum.
the author begins by saying "The Rand Corporation is an old well established and influential think tank that has the reputation of being objective in its approach."
the rand corporation has never been anywhere remotely objective. as one of the most influential think-tanks in the country, and ergo the world, it has attempted to forcibly put forward its crypto-fascist agenda for quite some time now.
the author decides to slowly disect the rand treaste and expose it for the undergraduate rant it is, but begins with an unfortunate err. that the rand corp is genuine in its scholarly journey. the rand corporation is the worst example of scholarly leadership in a country where the ruling oligarchy loathes anything remotely academic.
i'd like to respond to nick-cameron, but i wouldnt know where to begin. the man's comments read like a foxnews transcript. -

Failure to thrive ?? So says the apologist for empire. I fail to understand why some Muslims, like "Tony S" continue to seek approval from people like Cheryl Benard who mean them no good. The classic inferiority complex from people who are too lazy and brainwashed to engage the lying liars, whether at RAND or elsewhere. Brave, educated, sincere and decent people know better that the "democracy" of liars, invaders and mass murderers is an opportunistic sham. A far more suitable and realistic topic to be researched would be on the utter failure of this democracy, in the Western world, especially the US.

Social strife in the Muslim world is in part the result of lack of social progress. Therefore, it is vital for any plan to end social strife to include a way to jumpstart progress. I think the key to progress in the Muslim world is economic development.

The West is open to the establishment of commercial partnerships with the Muslim world that would be productive for all concerned. Americans in particular would welcome the opportunity to provide various products of superior quality at a reasonable price to foreign countries. In return, Muslim countries, many of which are rich in natural resources (besides oil), can export its commodities to us for a profit. Those countries that aren't so resource rich could provide a cost-competitive labor market for the processing and refining of resources from other countries. Either way, Muslim countries can use the tax revenues generated from commerce with our country to build their infrastructure and educate their populaces, which in turn would lead to increased productivity and economic growth. And as their economies grow, those countries develop.

One way to facilitate commerce with America could be the creation of a Muslim common market similar to that of the EU. That's because if done correctly, a common market can allow countries to optimize their respective comparative advantages for the good of the combined economy. And as the combined "Muslim" economy grows stronger, the market for our goods and services grows as well, leading to hefty profits for America.

Of course, the Muslim world is still a long way off from having anything like an EU common market. It's not even clear that Muslims would want that sort of thing.


Salamu Alaikum,
I commend the author for his insight on the situation and his take on the RAND approach to changing the Muslim World. Let me edify by saying that Muslims have nothing to fear at all if they have a strong Imaan/faith in their hearts. Isn't Allah's promise that we are not to fear anything and anyone no matter what the plots are? Nevertheless, the truth has to be said about the status-quo of the Muslim World. There isn't one Muslim state which gives much pride to its people for its accomplishments except probably for Malaysia.

As a Muslim, I do not see anything which encourages hard work and a sense of positive direction in the Muslim World. This is a fact, and you and I cannot deny it. No wonder that from a Western perspective, many think tank thinkers and observers such as Cheryl Benards of the RAND Corporation are exploiting the situation and trying to infuse change and probably more divisions within the ranks of Muslims. They all see that the Muslim World is about nothing but hypocrisy, obscurantism, perversion, and most of all despotism albeit the latter has always been supported in part or whole by the Western powers. Allah states that everyone will be held accountable for his/her own deeds, which brings me to say that it is the fault of every single Muslim to bring the situation to where it is today. We cannot continue blaming the West for the failures of the Muslims. The latter have brains of their own and therefore there is no excuse for these failures.

Muslims in general have swerved away from the real teachings of Islam, and now we see all sorts of curses befalling them. The solution is that they have to unite themselves on one path, one and only one of hard work, unity, honesty, loyalty to the true interpretations of the Koran, and a commitment to working for the good of all humanity. It is time to revolutionize our approach to Islam as a whole because Islam which existed during the time of our Prophet does not exist today.

Much better article than the previous one on this Rand paper. Rand will lose, "the reputation of being objective " if it doesn't pay closer attention to what it's authors are producing.

Lack of Just vision and resulting shortsightedness in double standards and injustices in Middle EAst and other areas are going to keep on feeding radical Islam and radicalism in other communities as well.
Many of the counterterrorism policies of the West and Regimes in Islamic world give lip service to democracy and Justice yet really trying to protect and serve their own interests (of the ruling classes) or those that can effectively buy or control their opinions.
Per this article, cross cultural communications and empowering the ideals of masses through implementing or at least holding all governments and corporations more accountable for not following 'The Universal Declaration of Human Rights' are part of the solution.


I am afraid the Rand Corporation, like others is nothing more than a sounding box for US government policy. When times are good they write patronizing rot. When times are bad they look condescendingly upon Muslims as you would a bug or a slimy thing which needs to be either removed or "Re-Created". I say given US's reputation now in the world as nothing more than a criminal, a Rogue, a braggart, a common thief, stealing oil and resources, torturing & murdering civilians, raping and brutalizing an entire nation just because they have the war planes, the guns and bombs, which they happily used again and again to wipe out almost an entire race in Japan, and Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan and now Iraq, and in light of what these "Proud US army and marines" do, sodomizing POWs and torturing and murdering them, neither the Rand Corporation nor any US institution, its courts etc are nothing more than refuse and garbage fit not just to be ignored but opposed at every level. If the poor dispossessed, oppressed, displaced, wronged people of the world take out their frustrations on this TRUE EVIL the USA is then please don't blame them USA look at yourself. USA You deserve every misfortune coming your way.

A good intelligence on the western media/institutional efforts to distort Islam,a step towards 'Western(American)world order'. Actually, vision of western media/intellectuals/people, is totally based on virtual web-world. They view the world through the tinted glass put around their eyes. Thanks for such a good article. sarfaraz