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January 20, 2003

New Global Policy Brief web site gets crucial information out quickly

By Jennifer McNulty

As the United States moves closer to war with Iraq, a leading scholar of the Middle East has published a compelling analysis of the conditions that have given rise to Islamic radicalism.

Photo of Alan Richards

Alan Richards Photo: Tom Van Dyke

The policy brief, "Explaining the Appeal of Islamic Radicals" by UCSC professor of environmental studies Alan Richards, is the first to be posted on a new web site launched by UCSC that targets journalists and policy makers.

In the policy brief, Richards identifies the social, economic, and political factors fueling Islamic radicalism, and critiques the Bush administration's policies as "throwing gasoline on the fire."

A military attack on Iraq will stoke the "already intense rage against the U.S. felt by the political actors to whom the future belongs: young Muslims," writes Richards, who argues instead for short-term covert operations against al-Qaeda and long-run strategies to undermine the appeal of violent Islamist radicals.

Richards, a frequent consultant to the U.S. State Department and the Department of Defense on Middle Eastern affairs, said he feels a "moral obligation" to try to contribute to greater understanding of Middle Eastern affairs.

"Believe me, there are people in our military, State Department, and intelligence agencies who think the Bush administration's policies are very dangerous," said Richards, whose analysis of the roots of Islamic radicalism illuminates the risk of a U.S. invasion of Iraq. Even the Army has expressed interest in reprinting a paper Richards prepared last year for a conference at the Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute, he said.

"Explaining the Appeal of Islamic Radicals" is the first piece posted on a new Global Policy Brief web site sponsored by the UCSC Center for Global, International & Regional Studies (CGIRS). The site will showcase research and opinions on international matters of widespread interest, said Ben Crow, an associate professor of sociology at UCSC and the CGIRS associate director who launched the site.

"We'd like to help narrow the gap between academics, policy makers, and the public," said Crow, adding that new web technology gives scholars an opportunity to circumvent the lengthy academic publishing cycle, get information out quickly, and reach lay audiences.

Global Policy Briefs and CGIRS Working Papers will also be available through the California Digital Library's eScholarship Repository. "Explaining the Appeal of Islamic Radicals" may be downloaded at http://repositories.cdlib.org/cgirs/gpb/GPB1/. The CGIRS web page on the California Digital Library is http://repositories.cdlib.org/cgirs/.

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