Sunday, March 11, 2007

Who Is Vali Nasr?

Vali Nasr has become the US media's new favorite Muslim expert - especially on Shi'a Islam, Iran, and sectarianism. He has also become a favorite of some liberals, who like to quote him authoritatively from a couple of his books, again, especially when discussing Shi'as.

For these liberals, quoting a Shi'a Muslim scholar (i.e. an Ayatullah) on Shi'a Islam, would be anathema, because they are all considered to be "fundamentalists", and "backwards." And also because many liberals have adopted the neo-con hatred and Islamophobia for scholars of Islam, so they now have a supposed "liberal" American educated dude, who they can quote safely as a supposed representative of Shi'as.

So, now lets take a closer look at this guy. Who exactly is he? Who is he speaking for, and what are are his affiliations?

A glance at Vali Nasr’s career shows where he is coming from — and whom he is serving. In January 2006, Nasr was named the Adjunct Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, the main Neocon Think Tank, focusing on foreign policy. He is currently Professor in the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS). He joined NPS in 1993. The Naval Postgraduate School's Department of National Security Affairs (NSA) specialises in the study of International Relations, security policy, and regional studies. The NSA, according to its Web site, ‘brings together … faculty, students from the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, National Guard and various civilian agencies, and scores of international officers from dozens of countries for the sole purpose of preparing tomorrow's military and civilian leaders for emerging security challenges’.

The Wikipedia entry on Vali Nasr offers some interesting insights that are worth examining:

First, Nasr, in January, 2006, was named the Adjunct Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

Now, I've talked about the awful liberal Brooking Institute.. But, if that is not bad enough, the CFR is like plain rotten - amongst its members are the following:

Dick Cheney
Condoleezza Rice
Paul Wolfowitz
Robert M. Gates
John D. Negroponte
Richard Perle
Leslie Gelb
Colin Powell
Alice Rivlin
Madeleine Albright
Zbigniew Brzezinski
Henry Kissinger

Nasr is often quoted as an expert on Shi'as of Middle East - so, what does he have to say about Iraq? Well here is an interesting bit:

By liberating and empowering Iraq's Shiite majority, the Bush administration helped launch a broad Shiite revival

and again:

Iraq's liberation has also generated new cultural, economic, and political ties among Shiite communities across the Middle East.

So, now we understand why Nasr was chosen to be a senior fellow at the CFR - he, like his neo-con buddies, regard the invasion and destruction of Iraq a "liberation" ! (heee hawww).

Now, it also turns out that Nasr "briefed" Bush on sectarianism in August 2006. It is quite possible that this guy is totally naive, that he thinks that the neo-cons are just ignorant, and are not doing anything deliberately to fan the flames of sectarianism to their advantage. It is possible that is what Nasr was thinking when he sat down for his chat with Bush.

But it is rather strange that Nasr was not familiar with the Rand Report that explicitly called for using sectarianism to divide Muslims and that he was not aware of other articles that also called for using Shi'a Sunni divisions to create a civil war situation amongst Muslims.

What exactly did Bush learn from Nasr, one wonders?

Nasr, is unfortunately just one in a whole slew of Muslims who have allied themselves with the neo-cons, and like other liberal imperialists, are not so much as opposed to the invasion ("liberation") of Iraq - but rather, how it was done, and that it could be done better. So, he is not opposed to the supremacy of the United States, just that it could exert its supremacy more efficiently.

In this respect, Nasr fits into what Saba Mahmood describes as one of those with whom

the U.S. strategists have struck a common chord with self-identified secular liberal Muslim reformers who have been trying to refashion Islam along the lines of the Protestant Reformation.

There is a fair bit of material available on this guy on the web, and I'll be updating this entry...

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