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Confrontation, Dialogue and Radicalization

Arun Vishwanathan

By Irfan Husain
Harper Collins, New Delhi, 2012, pp. x+238, Rs. 299.00


Fatal Faultlines is a lucid account delving into many difficult questions which lie at the heart of interactions between Islam, the West and Pakistan. These range from historical confrontation between Muslim and western civilizations and their impact on the current ‘dialogue’ between Muslim countries and the West. Husain studies the roots of terrorism and increasing radicalization. In less than 250 pages, Irfan Husain—a popular Pakistani journalist—has delved into these and many related issues which make our world an increasingly dangerous place in a simple, well researched and easy to read book. ‘Why us?’ is an interesting, yet telling question, which is posed to the author by his American friends in the aftermath of 9/11 attacks. It is an important question, which the United States as a country should ask itself in order to extricate itself out of the chakravyuha it finds itself in. Despite American humanitarian efforts in many counties from Bosnia to Pakistan, anti-Americanism is on the rise across the globe. The book, in many ways, is an attempt to answer this central question. One of the most important sources of this hatred is the result of American support—influenced by geopolitics and economics—of authoritarian regimes in many Muslim countries. During the Cold War this meant keeping pro-Soviet Left wing groups away from power even if it meant extending support to despots. These authoritarian regimes in turn used this support to crush domestic opposition, which were more often than not, led by Islamic groups like the Muslim Brotherhood. Another reason for the widespread disenchantment with the US has been its constant support of Israel Muslims. Why the US despite all its talk of democracy, justice and human rights, can turn a blind eye to the violation of these ideals in Palestine on a daily basis cannot be fathomed. As Husain points out, ‘the fact that the United States is Israel’s biggest patron and strongest ally results in much of this anger being directed towards Washington’ (p. 9). The author makes (pp. 90-92) an interesting analysis of the rationale and basis for support to Israel. He posits that it is not the result of the Zionist population in America which is a minuscule three percent of the total population. Instead, the support emanates from the fact that both the mainstream American parties can extend support to Israel without alienating any other crucial support base. This is unlike many other ...

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