This week, the State Department announced that Christian ethicist Shaun Casey will lead its new office for “religious engagement.” Within the network of the State Department’s various offices, this one stands out as potentially divisive and potentially useful. Under Hillary Clinton, the State Department turned its attention to nontraditional diplomatic partners—and she intentionally engaged, among others, religious partners. That focus has continued under John Kerry, resulting in the official announcement of this office.
But the U.S. government continues to face the issue of how exactly to engage religion.
In the Middle East, the United States has poured money and arms into two principal allies: Israel and Saudi Arabia. Oil, strategic considerations and domestic constituencies have guided these policies. But today, with Iraq a mess and Israeli-Palestinian relations at a nadir, the U.S. would do well to rethink its regional approach.
Countries, not individuals, are the enemies and friends that Charles Kupchan has in mind in How Enemies Become Friends, and beginning with the book's title, he sets himself against the most influential school of thought in international relations.
Iran is a young country: the median age is about 26. Young Iranians, who are connected to the outside world through the Internet and satellite TV, made their presence known in the streets as they protested the outcome of Iran’s presidential election.
President Obama’s June 4 speech in Cairo was just that—a speech. As commentators at home and abroad pointed out, it will take deeds to give substance to his call for “a new beginning” in relations between the U.S. and the Muslim world.
Dogged by persistent but untrue rumors that he is a closet Muslim, Barack Obama’s presidential campaign carefully sidestepped questions about his Muslim ancestry. But in Cairo, Egypt, on June 4 Obama quoted the “Holy Qur’an,” greeted his audience with the customary “Assalaamu alaykum” and, when speaking of Moses, Jesus and Muhammad in the same breath, said “peace be upon them.”