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The Thistle and the Drone


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Speaker(s): Ambassador Akbar Ahmed
Chair: Professor Christopher Coker

Recorded on 26 June 2013 in Shaw Library, Old Building.

The United States declared war on terrorism in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. More than ten years later, the results are decidedly mixed. In The Thistle and the Drone, world-renowned author, diplomat, and scholar Akbar Ahmed, reveals a tremendously important yet largely unrecognized adverse effect of these campaigns: they actually have exacerbated the already-broken relationship between central governments and the tribal societies on their periphery.

In the third volume of his trilogy that includes Journey into Islam (2007) and Journey into America (2010), Ambassador Ahmed draws on forty case studies of tribal societies across the Muslim world to analyze how the war on terror is being fuelled by the conflict between central governments and tribal peripheries. Beginning with Waziristan in Pakistan and expanding to similar tribal societies in Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, and elsewhere, this groundbreaking study offers an alternative and unprecedented paradigm for winning the war on terror.

Ambassador Akbar Ahmed is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, D.C. and Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. He is a Visiting Professor and was First Distinguished Chair of Middle East and Islamic Studies at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. He has taught at Princeton, Harvard, and Cambridge Universities and has been called “the world’s leading authority on contemporary Islam” by the BBC.

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