The God Factor
Stephen McGarveyStephen McGarvey's weblog
- 2006 May 23
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's new book talks about the influence religion has on foreign policy. Interesting considering the administration she served went to great pains to deny this fact. Washington Post's Book World review of the book says:
To a new generation of foreign policy thinkers who must now deal with jihadist terrorism, it seems absurd that America's leaders self-consciously pretended that religion was not an important world force. But according to Albright -- and it is hard to see why she would overstate the case -- the Clinton team insisted privately, not just publicly, that the Balkan crises, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and, yes, al-Qaeda's August 1998 bombing of two U.S. embassies in East Africa were "not about religion."
Given that the participants in all these events said that their conflicts were precisely about religion, it is worth wondering how our best and brightest could have remained so obstinately in denial. The cause, according to Albright, was the legacy of foreign policy "realism" -- the view that nations' actions could be predicted by assuming that they would rationally pursue their own interests. This theory, which is "almost exclusively secular," taught diplomats to ignore religious rhetoric and zeal and to look instead for familiar, interest-based motives. Albright, with the help of her longtime speechwriter Bill Woodward, argues that the realist approach must be amended by inserting an awareness of the increasingly significant role that religion plays in the making of individual and national decisions, not just abroad but here in the United States as well. The result is a book that makes an important contribution to the question of how our foreign policy should adjust to the rise of religion worldwide.
Read the complete review: The God Factor