“Islamic exceptionalism”

I’m essentially arguing that Islam is fundamentally different from other religions in a very specific way: its relationship to law and politics and governance. I wanted to use “exceptionalism” because I felt, at least for me, that it was value-neutral: It can be either good or bad depending on the context. I also wanted to challenge the assumption […] that religion playing a role in public life is always or necessarily a bad thing. […] and what that means in practice is that Islam has proven to be resistant to secularism, and I would argue will continue to be resistant to secularism and secularization really for the rest of our lives. Shadi Hamid

This could be the most obvious answer that plagues the American foreign policy construct, where most actions directed toward the Muslim world typically involved solving the impossible question: Can we democratize the region in our image? Having two failed experiments, the Iraq invasion in 2003 and the Afghanistan invasion the year before, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton must approached the Syria crisis with new thinking. Trump, on the surface, have. He called for disengagement and emphasized on fortification via heightened immigration scrutiny. Clinton, on the other hand and in her own muddled (or nuanced way) pushed for the return of intervention. Trump’s proposal sounded ideal but in the heart of heart, we know avoiding the region’s politics is impossible and fruitless. Clinton’s proposal, therefore, requires a bolder heart amidst known adversaries and riddles previously unsolvable by the previous administrations.

Maybe this is one of those moments. At a time where heartfelt letters of Syrian doctors poured in, pleading for intervention, stepping back like Trump would be imprudent, even when stepping forward feels dangerous. Obama has delayed Syria long enough. Should Clinton wins this fall, she has exactly three years to figure out the right way to stop Syria from engulfing further. Or the next election will all be about disengagement.

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