By David Holloway

ISBN-10: 0748632417

ISBN-13: 9780748632411

ISBN-10: 0748633804

ISBN-13: 9780748633807

ISBN-10: 0748633812

ISBN-13: 9780748633814

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30). American power, as one contemporary estimate put it, was ‘at the strategy’s center’ (Daalder and Lindsay 2003: 371).

For Scheuer, bin Laden’s historical significance lay partly in his successful lobbying for a shift from targeting apostate governments (reflecting a Koranic requirement to tackle the ‘near-enemy’ first should Islam be attacked) to an ‘America-first’ strategy. The switch to an ‘America-first’ strategy was achieved only after considerable internal debate (Scheuer called it a ‘struggle’ [Anonymous 2002: 169]) within key Islamist organisations, notably so in the influential Egyptian groups Al-Gama’at Al-Islamiyah (IG), the largest Islamist group in Egypt, and Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), a smaller group that evolved from IG in the late 1960s and was indivisible from al-Qaeda in the post9/11 period.

Adversarial review allowed incompetent or iniquitous leadership to be punished, but it didn’t prevent such leadership or its consequences happening in the first place. Reading Ignatieff’s The Lesser Evil was a bit like revisiting the old debate between John Dewey and Randolph Bourne over American intervention in the First World War. Like Dewey’s, Ignatieff’s pragmatism in The Lesser Evil – he called it ‘ethical realism’ (Ignatieff 2005: 21) – seemed reactive and pessimistic, unable or unwilling to make political ethics a progressive intellectual agency capable of helping shape history, rather than simply reacting to it when things went wrong.

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9 11 and the War on Terror (Representing American Events) (2008) by David Holloway


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