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Hegemonic Competition, Hegemonic Disruption and the Current War
Unformatted Document Text:  Newmann: DRAFT: Please do not cite without permission examples of the style of regime al-Qaeda would institute. The Taliban’s totalitarian rule in Afghanistan produced repressive on an unprecedented scale in Afghanistan. Bashir’s government in Sudan launched a genocidal war against the non-Arab, non-Muslim southern region of the nation, resulting in between 200 and 400,000 deaths and 2 million refugees. 69 Both these examples make it clear that once the ruling ideology is enshrined, it will be enforced through extreme forms of coercion and ideological deviations, debates, or opposition will not be tolerated. Explicitly, it is anti-democratic. To revolutionary Islam, democracy is a Western idea that shatters the relationship between God and the people by mistakenly giving sovereignty to the people; only God is sovereign in this view and democratic principles by their very nature are an affront to the proper practice of Islam. 70 To al-Qaeda the restoration of a society based on religious principles, rather than secular authoritarianism or democracy, is the paramount goal. One of the key goals of al-Qaeda is to redraw the borders of the Islamic world, eliminating the current nation-states in the Middle east, and restoring the Islamic caliphate, an empire that would encompass all lands where Muslims live. 71 Carving territory into sovereign states ruled by individual leaders – whether elected or authoritarian – is anathema to revolutionary Islam. Along with the rejection of democratic sovereignty comes the rejection of national sovereignty. All Muslims should live under one domain, the “House of God,” in which the Islamic community lives unified under the only sovereign that the ideology recognizes – God. The nation-state system itself is seen as a product of Western colonialism. Rolling back the Treaty of Westphalia and recreating the empire that had existed from Mohammed’s time to 1924 is the ultimate goal for al-Qaeda. In this sense, revolutionary Islam is a global revolution and a challenge to the current structure of the international system, a strategic challenge to US hegemony and the US-backed international system. 69 US Central Intelligence Agency, “Sudan: CIA World Factbook, 2007.” Available at https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/su.html . Accessed March 22, 2007. 70 Habeck, Knowing the Enemy, pp. 61-64 and 73-75; Fareed Zakaria, “Islam, Democracy, and Constitutional Liberalism,” Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 119. No. 1, (when), pp. 1-21; and Walid Phares, The War of Ideas (New York: Palgrave, 2007). 71 Juergensmeyer, The New Cold War, pp. 39-41; Brian Michael Jenkins, Countering al-Qaeda (Santa Monica, Rand Corporation, 2002, p. 4; Michael Scott Doran, “Somebody Else’s Civil War,” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 81, No. 1 (January-February 2002), pp. 7-8. 26

Authors: Newmann, William.
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Newmann: DRAFT: Please do not cite without permission
examples of the style of regime al-Qaeda would institute. The Taliban’s totalitarian rule in Afghanistan
produced repressive on an unprecedented scale in Afghanistan. Bashir’s government in Sudan launched a
genocidal war against the non-Arab, non-Muslim southern region of the nation, resulting in between 200 and
400,000 deaths and 2 million refugees.
Both these examples make it clear that once the ruling ideology is
enshrined, it will be enforced through extreme forms of coercion and ideological deviations, debates, or
opposition will not be tolerated. Explicitly, it is anti-democratic. To revolutionary Islam, democracy is a
Western idea that shatters the relationship between God and the people by mistakenly giving sovereignty to
the people; only God is sovereign in this view and democratic principles by their very nature are an affront to
the proper practice of Islam.
To al-Qaeda the restoration of a society based on religious principles, rather
than secular authoritarianism or democracy, is the paramount goal.
One of the key goals of al-Qaeda is to redraw the borders of the Islamic world, eliminating the
current nation-states in the Middle east, and restoring the Islamic caliphate, an empire that would encompass
all lands where Muslims live.
Carving territory into sovereign states ruled by individual leaders – whether
elected or authoritarian – is anathema to revolutionary Islam. Along with the rejection of democratic
sovereignty comes the rejection of national sovereignty. All Muslims should live under one domain, the
“House of God,” in which the Islamic community lives unified under the only sovereign that the ideology
recognizes – God. The nation-state system itself is seen as a product of Western colonialism. Rolling back
the Treaty of Westphalia and recreating the empire that had existed from Mohammed’s time to 1924 is the
ultimate goal for al-Qaeda. In this sense, revolutionary Islam is a global revolution and a challenge to the
current structure of the international system, a strategic challenge to US hegemony and the US-backed
international system.
69
US Central Intelligence Agency, “Sudan: CIA World Factbook, 2007.” Available at
. Accessed March 22, 2007.
70
Habeck, Knowing the Enemy, pp. 61-64 and 73-75; Fareed Zakaria, “Islam, Democracy, and Constitutional Liberalism,”
Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 119. No. 1, (when), pp. 1-21; and Walid Phares, The War of Ideas (New York: Palgrave, 2007).
71
Juergensmeyer, The New Cold War, pp. 39-41; Brian Michael Jenkins, Countering al-Qaeda (Santa Monica, Rand
Corporation, 2002, p. 4; Michael Scott Doran, “Somebody Else’s Civil War,” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 81, No. 1 (January-February
2002), pp. 7-8.
26


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