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Posted January 11, 2008

Book: Faith, Reason, and The War Against Jihadism: A Call To Action
Author: George Weigel
Doubleday. New York. 2007. Pp. 195

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

A bracing manifesto that urges all Americans — those who would lead the United States and those who will elect those leaders — to recognize and confront the religious convictions and passions that fuel Islamic jihadism, to understand – to really understand – its theological sources and ideological roots, and to take its global vision of the human future with the seriousness this challenge requires, Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism offers fifteen bold prescriptions for meeting the threat of jihadist terrorism. Weigel sounds a clarion call for the reform of U.S. foreign and military policy in light of the lessons of America should have learned from 9/11, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the grave threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. On the far side of the dangers of global jihadism, George Weigel argues, is the brighter prospect of a world capable of genuine pluralism: a world in which freedom, while never free, is not in retreat, but is poised once again at the cutting-edge of history and the foundation of peaceful society. Provocative and essential reading for the 2008 election season, it is a sobering analysis of the perilous years ahead.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Lesson 8. Genuine realism in foreign policy takes wickedness seriously yet avoids premature closure in its thinking about the possibilities of positive change in world politics.

Understanding the inevitable irony, pathos, and tragedy of history; being alert to the dangers of unintended consequences; maintaining a robust skepticism about schemes of human perfection (especially when politics is the chosen instrument of salvation); cherishing democracy without worshipping it — these elements of the Christian realist sensibility, perhaps most eloquently articulated during the mid-twentieth century by Reinhold Niebuhr, remain essential intellectual grounding for anyone thinking seriously about U.S. foreign policy in the war against jihadism. Yet realism, which is less a comprehensive framework for reflection than a set of intellectual and moral cautions, must always be complemented by a confidence in human creativity’s capacity to affect the course of history for the better. Things can be made better, if we have the wit, the will, and the patience for it.

As Dean Acheson said at another moment when history’s tectonic plates were shifting, the task that he and Harry Truman faced “only slowly revealed itself. As it did so, it began to appear as just a little bit less formidable than that described in the first chapter of Genesis. That was to create a world out of chaos.” Our task today is not dissimilar. In carrying it out, we would do well to remember the counsel of the late public philosopher Charles Frankel: “The heart of the policy-making process. . .is not the finding of a national interest already perfectly known and understood. It is the determining of that interest: the reassessment of the nation’s resources, needs, commitments, traditions, and political and cultural horizons – in short, its calendar of values.”

Table of Contents:

Introduction: Deadly Serious Business

1. Understanding the enemy

2. Rethinking realism

3. Deserving victory