Conversations with History: Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

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Islam and State Power in the Middle East and Central Asia: Conversation with Vitaly Naumkin, President of the International Center for Strategic and Political Studies, Moscow; February 19, 2003, by Harry Kreisler

This interview is part of the Institute's "Conversations with History" series, and uses Internet technology to share with the public Berkeley's distinction as a global forum for ideas.

Welcome to a Conversation with History. I'm Harry Kreisler of the Institute of International Studies. Our guest today is Vitaly Naumkin, who is president of the Moscow-based International Center for Strategic and Political Studies, and head of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the Institute of Oriental Studies, of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He is also editor-in-chief of Vostok Oriens, a journal of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He is visiting the Political Science Department at UC Berkeley this semester, where he is teaching a course.

  1. Background ... isolated hometown ... influence of parents ... interest in Middle East studies ... impact of collapse of Soviet Union ... liberal values before the fall of communism
  2. Islam ... Soviet experiment ... mixed bag ... Islam and modernity ... counterproductive external pressure ... Soviet invasion of Afghanistan ... U.S. support of Islamic fundamentalists ... influence of Saudis and Wahhabism ... response to a sense of threatened identity
  3. Russian Perspectives on Islam ... common interests with the U.S. toward the Islamic world ... tragedy of Chechnya ... difference between Chechnya and other former Soviet republics ... support in the Islamic world for Chechnya ... Israel/Palestine conflict
  4. The Case of Iraq ... early forms of secular nationalism ... natural enmity between secularists and fundamentalists ... former U.S. support for Saddam Hussein ... rights of access to the Persian Gulf ... positive development in '60s and '70s ... human rights in the Middle East ...  impossibility of democratization by force ... unforeseen consequences ... lack of evidence of Iraqi-terrorist connection.
  5. Conclusion ... living with imperfect regimes ... supporting steps toward modernization ... solving problems without war

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