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The Challenge of September 11 to Secularism in International Relations

  • Daniel Philpott (a1)

The attacks of September 11, 2001, highlight the general absence of attention to religion in international scholarship. The absence is understandable, for it arises from the secularized nature of the authority structure of the international system, described here as the “Westphalian synthesis.” Over the past generation, though, the global rise of public religion has challenged several planks of the synthesis. The sharpest challenge is “radical Islamic revivalism,” a political theology that has its roots in the early twentieth century and that gave rise to al-Qaeda. If international relations scholars are to understand the events of September 11, they ought to devote more attention to the way in which radical Islamic revivalism and public religion shape international relations, sometimes in dramatic ways.

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1 See Smith Wilfred Cantwell, The Meaning and End of Religion (San Francisco:Harper and Row, 1978); Cavanaugh William, “'A Fire Strong Enough to Consume the House'”: The Wars of Religion and the Rise of the State,” Modern Theology 11 (October 1995); and Griffiths Paul, “The Very Idea of Religion,” First Things 103 (May 2000).

2 I have been influenced here by Clouser Roy, Knowing with the Heart: Rekigious Experience and Belief in God (Downers Grove, Ill.:InterVarsity Press, 1999), esp. 1142.

3 For an assessment of secularization, the concept, the phenomenon, and the literature, see Stark Rodney, “Secularization, R.I.P.,” Sociology of Religion 60, no. 3 (1999).

4 Davie , “Believing without Belonging: Is This the Future of Religion in Britain?” Social Compass 37 (1990), 455–69.

5 Martin , A General Theory of Secularization (New York:Harper and Row, 1978), 69.

6 See Philpott Daniel, Revolutions in Sovereignty: How Ideas Shaped Modern International Relations (Princeton:Princeton University Press, 2001), 9. The journals are International Organization, International Studies Quarterly, World Politics, and International Security.

7 See Orbis: A Journal of WorldAffairs 42 (Spring 1998); and Millennium: Journal of International Studies 29, no. 3 (2000). In the Millennium collection, a particularly strong perspective of religion's role in the discipline and the practice of international relations is Scott M. Thomas, “Taking Religious and Cultural Pluralism Seriously: The Global Resurgence of Religion and the Transformation oflnternational Society.” See also the writings of Sohail Hashmi: Hashmi, “International Society and Its Islamic Malcontents,” Fletcher Forum 20 (Winter-Spring 1996); idem, “Interpreting the Islamic Ethics of War and Peace,” in Nardin Terry, ed., The Ethics of War and Peace (Princeton:Princeton University Press, 1996); idem, “Islamic Ethics in International Society,” in Mapel David R. and Nardin Terry, eds., International Society: Diverse Ethical Perspectives (Princeton:Princeton University Press, 1998); Fox Jonathan, “Religion as an Overlooked Element in International Relations,” International Studies Review 3, no. 3 (2001); SAIS Review 18 (Summer-Fall 1998); and Rubin Barry, “Religion and International Affairs,” Washington Quarterly 13, no. 2 (1990).

8 See Huntington , The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (New York:Simon and Schuster, 1996); idem, “The Clash of Civilizations?” Foreign Affairs 72 (Summer 1993). The fact that Huntington's thesis was published in a semipopular journal (Foreign Affairs) and then by a trade press is indicative of how little attention international relations scholars in the field proper have accorded religion.

9 For scholarship that asserts the growing global role of religion in politics, see Appleby R. Scott, The Ambivalence ofthe Sacred: Religion, Violence, and Reconciliation (Lanham, Md.:Rowman and Lit-tlefield, 2000); Gerges Fawaz A., America and Political Islam: Clash of Cultures or Clash of Interests (Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 1999); Hunter Shireen, The Future of Islam and the West: Clash of Civilizations or Peaceful Coexistence? (Westport, Conn.:Praeger, 1998); Berger Peter L., The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics (Washington, D.C.:Eerdmansk Ethics and Public Policy Center, 1999); Markjuergensmeyer , The New Cold War? Religious Nationalism Confronts the Secular State (Berkeley:University of California Press, 1993); Kepel Gilles, The Revenge of God: The Resurgence ofIslam, Christianity, andfudaism in the Modern World (University Park:Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994); Barber Benjamin, Jihad vs. McWorld: How Globalism and Tribalism Are Reshaping the World (New York:Times Books, 1995); Friedman Thomas L., The Lexus and the Olive Tree (New York:Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1999); Rudolph Susanne and Piscatori James, Transnational Religion and Fading States (Boulder, Colo.:Westview Press, 1997); Casanova Jose, Public Religions in the Modern World (Chicago:University of Chicago Press, 1994); and the essays in Appleby Scott and Marty Martin, eds., The Fundamentalist Project (Chicago:University of Chicago Press, 1991, 1993,1994,1995). For an earlier exception to the general secularization of international relations scholarship, see also Bozeman Adda, Politics and Culture in International History (Princeton:Princeton University Press, 1960).

10 See Strayer J. R., The Medieval Origins of the Modern State (Princeton:Princeton University Press, 1970); Reynolds Susan, Kingdoms and Communities in Western Europe, 900–1300 (Oxford:Clarendon Press, 1984); Wilks Michael, The Problem of Sovereignty in the Middle Ages (Cambridge, U.K.:At the University Press, 1964); Ullman Walter, Principles of Government and Politics in the Middle Ages (New York:Barnes and Noble, 1966).

11 Berenger Jean, History ofthe Habsburg Empire, 1273–1700 (London:Longman, 1994); Kann Robert A., A History ofthe Habsburg Empire (Berkeley:University of California Press, 1974), 124; Koenigsberger H. G., Estates and Revolutions: Essays in Early Modern European History (Ithaca, N.Y.:Cornell University Press, 1971).

12 Holsti , Peace and War: Armed Conflicts and International Order, 1648–1989 (Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 1991), 4659.

13 The locus classicus for the concept of international society is Bull Hedley, The Anarchical Society (New York:Columbia University Press, 1977). For a good discussion of religious pluralism in international society, see Thomas (fn. 7), 819–24.

14 Quoted in Maland David, Europe in the Seventeenth Century (London:Macmillan, 1966), 16.

15 “Dignitatis Humanae (Declaration on Religious Liberty),” in Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents (Northport, N.Y.:Costello Publishing Company, 1975).

16 For broadly material arguments, see Anderson Perry, Lineages of the Absolutist State (London:N.L.B., 1974); Downing Brian, The Military Revolution and Political Change (Princeton:Princeton University Press, 1992); North Douglass C. and Thomas R. P., The Rise of the Western World (Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 1973); Spruyt Hendrik, The Sovereign State and Its Competitors (Princeton:Princeton University Press, 1994); Tilly Charles, Coercion, Capital, and European States, 990–1992 (Oxford:Basil Blackwell, 1992). For my argument that material explanations are insufficient and that Protestant ideas were a central cause, see Philpott (fn. 6), 97–149.

17 More specifically, it was Protestants of the magisterial Reformation who took this course-Lutherans, Calvinists, the Church of England. In fact, the Reformation was a spate of diverse movements. Some, like the Anabaptists, separated themselves from temporal authority as far as they could.

18 See Vincent R. J., Nonintervention and International Order (Princeton:Princeton University Press, 1974).

19 See Hoffmann Stanley, “An American Social Science: International Relations,” in Janus and Min-erva: Essays in the Theory and Practice of International Politics (Boulder, Colo.:Westview Press, 1987).

20 See Meinecke Friedrich, Machiavellianism: The Doctrine of Raison d'etat and Its Place in Modem History (Boulder, Colo.:Westview Press, 1984).

21 See Waltz , Theory ofInternational Politics (Lexington, Mass.:Addison-Wesley, 1979). Michael Doyle explains the similarity between Waltz and Hobbes, both “structural” realists, in Doyle Michael, Ways of War and Peace (New York:W. W. Norton, 1997), 111–36. On Hobbes, see also a section of an essay by Stanley Hoffmann on Rousseau; Hoffmann, “Rousseau on War and Peace,” in Hoffman (fn. 19), 25–36.

22 Doyle (fn. 21), 93–110.

23 For an excellent recent study of Morgenthau's early influences and intellectual formation, see Frei Christoph, Hans]. Morgenthau: An Intellectual Biography (Baton Rouge:Louisiana State University Press, 2001), 98102.

24 Machiavelli Niccolo, The Prince and the Discourses (New York:Modern Library, 1950).

25 Niebuhr Reinhold, The Irony of American History (New York:Charles Scribner's Sons, 1952); idem, Christian Realism and Political Problems (New York:Charles Scribner's Sons, 1953).

26 See Donnelly Jack, “Twentieth-Century Realism,” in Nardin Terry and Mapel David, ed., Traditions ofInternational Ethics (Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 1992); Forde Steven, “Classical Realism,” in Nardin Terry and Mapel David, eds., Traditions of International Ethics (Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 1992).

27 Waltz (fn. 21).

28 See Doyle (fn. 21), 205–311; and Wolfers Arnold and Martin Laurence, The Anglo-American Tradition: Readingsfrom Thomas More to Woodrow Wilson (New Haven:Yale University Press, 1956).

29 See Katzenstein Peter J., ed., The Culture ofNational Security: Norms and Identity in World Politics (New York:Columbia University Press, 1996).

30 For a survey description of the ambitions of the secularization thesis, see Stark (fn. 3).

31 Berger (fn. 9), 2.

32 Stark (fn. 3), 253–60.

33 On this trend, see Casanova (fn. 9).

34 James Turner Johnson, “Jihad and Just War,” First Things (June-July 2002).

35 See, for instance, Fouad Ajami, “What the Muslim World Is Watching,” New York Times Magazine, November 18, 2001. See also Zogby International's “Impressions of America” poll of April 11, 2002.

36 Hashmi (fn. 7, “International Society and Its Islamic Malcontents,” 1996), 21.

37 Hashmi (fn. 7, “Interpreting the Islamic Ethics,” 1996), 223–24.

38 Hashmi (fn. 7, “International Society and Its Islamic Malcontents,” 1996), 17.

39 Doran Michael Scott, “Somebody Else's Civil War: Ideology, Rage, and the Assault on America,” in Rose Gideon and Hoge James F. Jr., eds., How Did This Happen? Terrorism andthe New War (New York:Council on Foreign Relations, 2001), 34.

40 Hashmi (fn. 7, “Interpreting the Islamic Ethics,” 1996), 223.

41 Armstrong Karen, The Battlefor God:A History of Fundamentalism (New York:Ballantine Books, 2000), 236–38.

42 Ibid., 220–23; Tibi Bassam, The Challenge of Fundamentalism: Political Islam and the New World Order (Berkeley:University of California Press, 1998), 58; Russell Watson, “An Army of Eternal Victims,” Newsweek, March 15,1993,2.

43 Karen Armstrong, Islam:A Short History (New York: Modern Library, 2000), 170.

44 Shepard William E., Sayyid Qutb and Islamic Activism: A Translation and CriticalAnalysis of Social Justice in Islam (New York:Brill, 1996), xl.

45 Armstrong (fn. 41), 241.

46 Arjomand Said Amir, “Unity and Diversity in Islamic Fundamentalism,” in Marty Martin and Appleby Scott, eds., Fundamentalisms Comprehended (Chicago:University of Chicago Press, 1995), 184.

47 For more on Qutb's thought, see Tibi (fn. 42), 56–63; Armstrong (fn. 41), 238–44; Shepard, (fn. 44), ix-lv; Mousalli Ahmad S., Radical Islamic Fundamentalism: The Ideological and Political Discourse of Sayyid Qutb (Beirut:American University of Beirut, 1992); Kepel (fn. 9), 18–22.

48 Ibid (fn. 42), 138,152.

49 Ibid., 144–46.

50 Ibid., 101,140–46.

51 Ibid., 55.

52 Kepel (fn. 9), 20.

53 Arjomand (fn. 46), 185–86.

54 Roy , “Afghanistan: An Islamic War of Resistance,” in Marty Martin and Appleby Scott, eds., Fundamentalisms and the State, no. 3 (Chicago:University of Chicago Press, 1993); idem, Islam and Resistance in Afghanistan (Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 1990).

55 Doran (fn. 39), 33–43.

56 Williams Paul L., Al Qaeda: Brotherhood of Terror (Parsippany, N.J.:Alpha Books, 2002), 76,

57 Bergen Peter L., Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama Bin Laden (New York:Free Press, 2001), 196.

58 The most prominent constructivist work is Wendt Alexander, Social Theory of International Politics (Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 1999). See also the collection in Katzenstein (fn. 29).

59 Keck Margaret and Sikkink Kathryn, Activists beyond Borders:Advocacy Networks in International Politics (Ithaca, N.Y.:Cornell University Press, 1998).

60 The locus classicus here is Bull (fn. 13).

61 See Garrett Geoffrey and Weingast Barry R., “Ideas, Interests, and Institutions: Constructing the European Community's Internal Market,” in Goldstein Judith and Keohane Robert O., eds., Ideas and Foreign Policy: Beliefs, Institutions, and Political Change (Ithaca, N.Y.:Cornell University Press, 1993)

* The author wishes to thank the organizers of and participants in the conference, The New Era in World Politics after September 11, at Princeton University, May 3,2002, particularly Miguel Centeno for his valuable comments. An earlier version of the paper was also presented at the “Authority in Contention” conference of the Collective Behavior and Social Movements section of the American Sociological Association, University of Notre Dame, August 14, 2002, and at the Colloquium on Religion and History at the University of Notre Dame, September 18, 2002. The author also thanks Sohail Hashmi, John Owen, Eric Patterson, Andrew Moravcsik, Rashid Omar, Michael Francis, Paul Vasquez, Paul Marshall, A. James McAdams, John Carlson, and Nelson Gonzalez for helpful comments, and Colleen Gilg for excellent research assistance. All opinions herein are solely those of the author.

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