Islamic Imperialism A History Author:Efraim Karsh Review found - *** not on back cover *** — By C. S. Devore "Chuck DeVore" (Irvine, CA United States) - See all my reviews — (REAL NAME) — "Islamic Imperialism: A History," by Efraim Karsh is an important work that effectively dispels several myths about Islam and statecraft. Karsh's central thesis is that, from the beginning, Islamic Middle Easter... more »n powers have been driven more by a traditional urge to empire than by any higher fealty to religion.
Karsh chronicles empire after empire in the Middle East, showing how they played big power politics against competing Muslim empires as well as in alliance with Christian empires. Karsh shows that even Saladin the Great, the Kurdish, not Arab ruler, who retook Jerusalem from the Frankish Crusader kingdom, viewed the Christian Franks as just another power player. Today, of course, modern Muslim Arab mythology holds Saladin out as the great role model in the struggle to destroy Israel.
Karsh also details how the Ottoman and Persian empires deftly manipulated European powers to extract money and protection in an attempt to remain in power. Had they spent as much effort on internal reform and growth as opposed to foreign intrigue, they might have survived. This manipulation of European foreign policy continued right up into the 20th Century as Sharif Hussein and his sons (the Hashemite royal line) parlayed a close relationship with the British into imperial ambitions in the wake of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Far from being passive victims of European colonialism, Karsh shows Arab leaders as being quite adept at fighting for their personal interests.
After summarizing more than 1,300 years of Islamic imperial tradition Karsh comes to his most important conclusion for present policy makers: "...Arab and Muslim anti-Americanism, have little to do with US international behavior or its Middle Eastern policy. America's position as the pre-eminent world power blocks Arab and Islamic imperialist aspirations. As such, it is a natural target for aggression. Osama bin Laden and other Islamists's war is not against America per se, but is rather the most recent manifestation of the millenarian jihad for a universal Islamic empire (or umma). This is a vision by no means confined to an extremist fringe of Islam, as illustrated by the overwhelming support for the 9/11 attacks throughout the Arab and Islamic worlds."« less