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Rethinking Religion and World Affairs$
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Timothy Samuel Shah, Alfred Stepan, and Monica Duffy Toft

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199827978

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199827978.001.0001

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Navigating in the Fog

Navigating in the Fog

Improving U.S. Government Engagement with Religion

Chapter:
(p.279) 18 } Navigating in the Fog
Source:
Rethinking Religion and World Affairs
Author(s):

Frederick D. Barton

Shannon Hayden

Karin von Hippel

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199827978.003.0019

Religion features prominently in many of the major foreign policy challenges facing the new Obama administration, notably in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, and of course, the Middle East as a whole. Yet beyond the experts, most government officials and implementing partners still do not have the requisite tools nor necessary understanding of the issues to factor religion into policy and practice in an appropriate manner. This chapter discusses U.S. engagement with religion in two parts. The first outlines the difficulties and challenges in conflict zones, and discusses the legal issues that arise. The second proposes concrete recommendations, which are intended to help clarify guidance and harmonize practice. Because conflict zones are complex and fluid environments, and religion can be interpreted very differently in each situation, it is not possible to develop a generic framework that can be applied in all contexts. Aid workers, soldiers, diplomats, and other practitioners need new tools, but they must also be prepared to work with ambiguity and to rely on their own judgment.

Keywords:   religion, conflict zones, U.S. foreign policy, foreign policy challenges, Middle East

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