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A Necessary Engagement:
Reinventing America's Relations with the Muslim World
Emile Nakhleh

Hardcover | 2009 | $37.50 | £31.95 | ISBN: 9780691135250
184 pp. | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
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In A Necessary Engagement, the CIA's former point man on Islam makes a vigorous case for a renewal of American public diplomacy in the Muslim world. Offering a unique balance between in-depth analysis, personal memoir, and foreign policy remedies, the book injects much-needed wisdom into the public discussion of long-term U.S.-Muslim relations.

Intelligence insider Emile Nakhleh argues that an engagement with the Muslim world benefits the national interest of the United States. Therefore, the next administration should discard the terrorism prism through which the country has viewed political Islam since 9/11 and focus instead on the common interests of America and mainstream Muslims. Nakhleh investigates recent U.S. policy toward Islamic nations and offers the new administration a ten-point plan for rebuilding America's relationship with the Muslim world. The author demonstrates that winning over Arabs and Muslims requires a thorough knowledge of Arab and Muslim cultures and languages within our intelligence community, as well as a long-term American commitment of personnel and resources. While the success of these efforts will be incremental and hard to measure, Nakhleh believes that the current low standing of the United States in most Arab and Muslim countries can be reversed.

Stressing that effective public diplomacy must be a serious, coordinated effort pursued at the highest political levels, A Necessary Engagement charts a new course for future ties between the United States and the Islamic world.


"[A] thoughtful book. . . . Nakhleh makes a strong case for the importance of constructive engagement with all Islamists except the global jihadists."--Jonathan Benthall, Times Literary Supplement

"Nakhleh, former director of the CIA's Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program, draws on nearly three decades of experience, current research and extensive polling to argue that the majority of Muslims strongly oppose terrorism and want good governance and a functional relationship with the U.S."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"In an informative and revealing book, A Necessary Engagement, Emile Nakhleh, a former director of Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program in the CIA's Directorate of Intelligence, says that although midlevel U.S. officials knew better than to frame the war in black-and-white terms, ever-expanding the territory of the enemy, they had little say and input in decision-making. . . . Nakhleh paints a grim and stark portrait of the failures of U.S. policy makers to understand the most basic attitudes that Muslims have of themselves, each other and the West."--Fawaz A. Gerges, The National Interest

"This book should be required reading for the non-expert who wants a real understanding of militant Islam and how the United States should deal with it. Even experts in Islam, foreign policy and public diplomacy would find it worth reading. The author has marshaled persuasive arguments and presented a systematic analysis that is carefully grounded in fact and sensible conclusions. . . . Nakhleh's years of careful study have been distilled into a highly readable 146 pages. Because of the nature of the issues he discussed, this book will be relevant to understanding our world for some time to come."--William A. Rugh, Middle East Policy

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