Contemporary Islam is struggling within itself over its values, identity, and place in the world, with rivals contending for spiritual and political dominance--as well as with the "outside" world. In Western eyes, the ideal Islamic community would be democratic, economically viable, politically stable, and socially progressive and would follow the rules and norms of international conduct. But as the international community strives to understand all this and, possibly, influence the outcome, the best approaches--or even whom to approach--are not always easy to determine. As an aid to the process, this report compares and contrasts the subgroups within Islam. The author recommends careful deliberation in deciding how to proceed, taking into account the symbolic weight of certain issues, the meaning likely to be assigned to any positions U.S. policymakers might take on these issues, the consequences for other Islamic actors, and the opportunity costs and possible unintended consequences. With all that in mind, the author then makes her own series of recommendations.
Santa Monica, CA :
RAND, National Security Research Division,
Includes bibliographical references (pages 67-72).