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Back to the Blog Lee Smith and the Clash of Arab Civilizations


Let’s begin with a few questions: How much do America’s confrontations with radical Islam around the world today have anything to do with America, and how much do they have to do with internal struggles within Islam? What if the clash of civilizations is really a clash of Arab civilizations? What if in seeking to answer “why they hate us,” we’ve been asking the wrong question all along?

Lee Smith, the author of The Strong Horse: Power, Politics, and the Clash of Arab Civilizations and a columnist for Tablet, advances an interesting and convincing argument, based both on history and his own experiences in the Middle East, which offers an alternative view to what you’ll read in the vast majority of newspapers and books today. It’s a view shared by some in the foreign policy community, and Smith’s book offers an incredible introduction to it.

I spoke to him last week, and asked him both about what he sees within the current conflict over Imam Rauf’s Ground Zero mosque (read more from Smith on that question here), and what he believes to be on the path ahead for the United States as we interact with the Muslim world.

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