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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Michael Scott Doran at the NSC 

As we reported here back in May, Michael Scott Doran, formerly of Princeton University's Near Eastern Studies Department, has joined Stephen Hadley's team at the National Security Council. Doran is an expert on jihadi ideology, and has devoted himself to reading al Qaeda's philosophical and tactical writings. The Washington Post published an interesting profile of Doran last week which is well worth reading for anybody who wants to know how today's NSC forms its opinions about our enemy.

The WaPo article also reports that Doran is an excellent lecturer, which fact I can personally attest to. I attended a public lecture that Doran gave last spring on "Al Qaeda's grand strategy," and wrote up my notes here. My account of Doran's lecture remains the most widely read post I have ever written, and goes into much more detail than the Post's story.

Doran is probably the highest profile academic advocate for the view that al Qaeda's campaign is essentially a civil war within Islam, and that the West's involvement is something of a sideshow. Four years ago, when Doran wrote an article for Foreign Affairs that said as much, it was very controversial and quite inconsistent with the Bush administration's public pronouncements on the war on terror. Today, with al Qaeda attacking Muslim weddings in Jordan and Sunni leaders in Iraq, Doran's analysis seems spot on.

Doran has also written on the problem of Palestine, and whether a settlement with Israel would weaken al Qaeda. Since this is virtually received wisdom in Europe and American universities, his assertion that peace in Palestine would have very little impact on al Qaeda is more than a little controversial (my thoughts on that subject are here). If you have a moment over the long weekend, read the whole thing.

3 Comments:

By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Wed Nov 23, 12:21:00 PM:

Of course, serious guys like this cannot get tenure at Princeton, but fools like Krugman can.  

By Blogger Mycroft, at Wed Nov 23, 06:35:00 PM:

It was a rather extraordinary fight at Princeton ... one that reflected badly on the institution as a whole. The Daily Princetonian has an article on it here,with letters to the editor from angry professors and replies to be found here , here, and here.  

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