Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Writings on the War on Terror by Farish A Noor (RM 69.90)

For scholars whose field of interest included Islamic studies and the contemporary development of Muslim society, the impact of 11 September was unprecedented. President Bush's declaration of a 'Crusade' against terror had the immediate deleterious effect of souring relations between the West and the Muslim world, heightened tension between states and regional blocs, shifted the focus of the global media to the Muslim world and lead to the reconfiguration of established political loyalties and alliances, hastily realigned.

The immediate impact of 11 September was far-reaching, testifying to the global hegemonic status of the United States of America and the extent of its foreign policy outreach. America's newfound fear of religiously-inspired terror soon focused on Islam and Muslims in particular; and America's phobia of all things Islamic soon became a global phobia as well. As images of bearded men with guns sitting in badly-lit madrasahs filled the TV screens and American media commentators talked about the inevitable clash of civilisations between Islam and the Western world, the fear of Islam was soon hegemonised and translated to ground-level political changes and realignments.

The effect of this new climate of fear and paranoia on the societies of ASEAN were differentiated, a reflection of the internal differences between the cultures and societies of the ASEAN region themselves. In predominantly Muslim countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, America's unilateral efforts at combating what its government regarded as a global Islamic militant menace was met by equally general accusations of Western complicity and blanket condemnations of all things Western.

The essays that appear in this volume were written with the expressed wish to remind the readers of the historical antecedents of what we are witnessing today: America's return to the geopolitical realm of Southeast Asia is not without precedent. Its previous venture into the ASEAN region was during the height of the Cold War, and America's support of pro-Western regimes such as that of Ferdinand Marcos's in the Philippines and Soeharto's in Indonesia was not merely intended to assist these countries in the war against Communism, but also to expand America's - and the West's - sphere of influence in all areas, ranging from economics to development.

(A limitted number of imported copies of this book is available only at Silverfish Books.)

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