The Thistle and the Drone by Akbar Ahmed
How America's War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam

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In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the United States declared war on terrorism. More
than ten years later, the results are decidedly mixed. Here world-renowned author,
diplomat, and scholar Akbar Ahmed reveals an important yet largely ignored result of
this war: in many nations it has exacerbated the already broken relationship between central governments and the largely rural Muslim tribal societies on the peripheries of both Muslim and non-Muslim nations. The center and the periphery are engaged in a mutually destructive civil war across the globe, a conflict that has been intensified by the war on terror.

Conflicts between governments and tribal societies predate the war on terror in many
regions, from South Asia to the Middle East to North Africa, pitting those in the centers
of power against those who live in the outlying provinces. Akbar Ahmed's unique study
demonstrates that this conflict between the center and the periphery has entered a new
and dangerous stage with U.S. involvement after 9/11 and the deployment of drones, in the hunt for al Qaeda, threatening the very existence of many tribal societies.

American firepower and its vast anti-terror network have turned the war on terror into a
global war on tribal Islam. And too often the victims are innocent children at school, women in their homes, workers simply trying to earn a living, and worshipers in their mosques. Battered by military attacks or drone strikes one day and suicide bombers the next, the tribes bemoan, "Every day is like 9/11 for us."

In The Thistle and the Drone, the third volume in Ahmed's groundbreaking trilogy examining relations between America and the Muslim world, the author draws on forty case studies representing the global span of Islam to demonstrate how the U.S. has become involved directly or indirectly in each of these societies. The study provides the social and historical context necessary to understand how both central governments and tribal societies have become embroiled in America's war. Beginning with Waziristan and expanding to societies in Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, and elsewhere, Ahmed offers a fresh approach to the conflicts studied and presents an unprecedented
paradigm for understanding and winning the war on terror.


About Akbar Ahmed

See more books from this Author
Akbar Ahmed is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, D.C. He was the former Pakistani high commissioner to the United Kingdom, the first Distinguished Chair of Middle East Studies at the U.S. Naval Academy, and is a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Among his previous books are Journey into Islam and Journey into America, both published by Brookings. He is also a published poet and playwright.
Published February 27, 2013 by Brookings Institution Press. 440 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Religion & Spirituality, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Thistle and the Drone

Since the killing of Al Qaeda leader and US citizen Anwar al-Aulaqi in a drone strike on September 30, 2011 in northern Yemen, the debate over the legality of drone strikes has gained momentum in the United States.

Feb 22 2013 | Read Full Review of The Thistle and the Drone: Ho...

In all these case studies, Dr. Ahmed talks about tribal regions in the Muslim world where “the centre is failing to protect its citizens on the periphery and is not giving them their due rights and privileges according to the principles of modern statehood…wherever the tribes have lived and howev...

Feb 22 2013 | Read Full Review of The Thistle and the Drone: Ho...

Boston Review

On July 13, a U.S. drone killed two suspected militants riding a motorcycle in North Waziristan, the mountainous, tribal region in Pakistan that President Obama described as “the most dangerous place in the world.” The region is the heart of America's drone campaign in Pakistan that has killed ne...

Jul 16 2013 | Read Full Review of The Thistle and the Drone: Ho...

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