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Interns discuss Islamic totalitarianism and U.S. strategy dilemmas with Dr. Streusand

Streusand On June 12th, Dr. Douglas E. Streusand, Professor at the Marine Corps Command & Staff College in Quantico and Adjunct Professor at IWP, gave a private lecture to the Institute’s summer interns. The luncheon discussion covered topics such as U.S. strategy dilemmas, Islamic totalitarianism, demography, and political geography.

Dr. Streusand began the lecture at the grand strategic level, categorizing the four major adversaries of the United States as follows: Sunni Islamist totalitarian networks such as Al Qaeda, Shi’ite Islamist totalitarian networks particularly in Iran, the People’s Republic of China, and Russia. All four of these adversaries share one common ideological principle: a fundamental opposition to Western political philosophy and the international balance of power.

Citing violations of international law in the South China Sea and Crimea, Dr. Streusand rationalized Chinese and Russian aggression in the context of their geopolitical history. He went on to assert that the threats these adversaries pose are not merely matters of national security, but that international order and human rights depend on our defense against them.

The next portion of the lecture was devoted to Islamic totalitarianism and its relation to utopian ideology. One example given was the concept of the Vanguard Party in Marxism-Leninism — a utopian philosophy that led to a totalitarian system of governance. Islamic totalitarianism, he asserted, draws from Western philosophies of totalitarianism and blends with the utopian nature and ideology of traditional Islamism. The threat, therefore, comes not from the Islamic religion itself, but from a dangerous form of ideology that is not in accordance with mainstream Muslim history.

To conclude the lecture, Dr. Streusand illustrated the importance of studying demography and political geography. Citing the significant differences geographically and demographically between the BRIC countries in particular, he underlined how crucial the subject is for those pursuing a career in statecraft.

John Hoffner
IWP Intern and Research Assistant

Disclaimer: The views of Prof. Douglas Streusand do not reflect the views of the US Government, the Marine Corps University, or The Institute of World Politics.

Streusand with Interns, Spring 2014