An Anatomy of Conflicts between Democracies, Islamists, and Muslim Autocrats
by Erik A. Claessen
October 2010, 186pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-38444-8
$70, £54, 61€, A96
eBook Available: 978-0-313-38445-5
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

The essence of the Islamist ideal state is not religion, but the ascension to power of religious scholars. Because today’s Islamist leaders follow the direction of 19th and 20th century Muslim political thinkers—the writings of which Western leaders are largely unfamiliar—misunderstandings about how to effectively combat radical Islamist movements persist.

This text provides an in-depth analysis of the politics and organization of Muslim autocracies, radical Islamist movements, and democracies, explaining their influence on the never-ending conflicts in the Middle East.

In order to properly understand the nature of the conflicts that currently plague the Middle East—and have for so many decades—it is essential to grasp the fundamental differences between Muslim autocracies, radical Islamist movements, and democracies. Recognizing how the countries and governments involved differ in terms of their political, social, and military organization, and with regard to how their past histories influence the way they approach conflicts, is the first step towards achieving a more stable and peaceful environment for the groups involved.

Instead of examining causes or consequences of specific conflicts like the Six Day War or Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, this text seeks to explain the dynamics of the Middle East by documenting how the dissimilar characteristics of democracies, Islamists, and Muslim autocrats affect how each approaches decision-making, sustainment, communication, and the use of force.


  • Bibliography contains numerous Arab and Muslim-authored works rarely cited in the West, but are highly influential on Arab political thought and Islamic social mobilization
  • Provides a glossary of dozens of critical Islamic concepts like Ijtihaad, Ulema, Awqaf, Zakat, Taqfir, and Hudna that are key to understanding Middle Eastern sociopolitical and diplomatic discourse
  • An index of concepts, persons, locations, and events allows quick access to information by grouping similar concepts or directing the reader to related terms
Erik A. Claessen is a lieutenant colonel serving in the Strategy Department of the Belgian Joint Staff. His main field of study is the effect of organized violence on democratic political systems. His latest publication is "The Genie in the Bottle: Opportunist and Antagonistic Responses to Whole of Government Approaches," which won first place in the Simons Center Interagency Writing Competition conducted from September 2011 through March 2012. Claessen is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, where he earned a master of military arts and sciences degree.

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