The Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2012

J U LY- A U G U S T 2 0 1 2 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L 63 “winning” Kabul throughout the 1990s, while billions of taxpayer dollars were allocated to the cause?) And our policy’s negative impact on the region, not to mention the struggle against Is- lamic terrorism, is sobering. Because the lessons Tomsen iden- tifies stayed deliberately unlearned through several administrations, one wonders: Is change possible at this point? “The hour is late,” he writes in early 2011, but a U.S. policy based on facilitating a fundamental change in Pakistan’s policy, genuine Afghan cus- tody of the war, and diplomatic re- gional and global reinforcement “could salvage some long-term success in Afghanistan.” Sadly, it is still not clear that any real change is at hand. Though meticulously documented, The Wars of Afghanistan is no aca- demic work. It is an intimate, timely look at the realities of making and im- plementing foreign policy that should be required reading for anyone who has anything to do with Afghanistan, and for every student of U.S. foreign policy and international affairs. Susan Brady Maitra is the Journal’s Senior Editor. In Everyone’s Interest Religious Freedom: Why Now? Defending an Embattled Right Timothy Samuel Shah and Matthew J. Franck, Witherspoon Institute, 2012, $9.95, paperback, 86 pages. R EVIEWED BY J OHN M. G RONDELSKI Even a cursory survey of current events indicates that religion is under- going a global resurgence. In fact, as co-authors Timothy Samuel Shah and Matthew J. Franck put it in Religious Freedom: Why Now? Defending an Embattled Right : “What needs special explanation is not the resurgence of religion in the last 50 years or so, but the paroxysm — often violent — of secularism that swept across the world beginning with the French Revolution in 1789, and had decisively receded only by 1989.” So what does this trend signify for foreign affairs professionals? One basic implication, according to this re- port of the Task Force on Interna- tional Religious Freedom, convened by Princeton’s Witherspoon Institute, is the need to use diplomacy more ef- fectively to defend and promote this basic right. The book first builds the case that religious freedom is a fundamental right, not some special pleading. It is intrinsic to human dignity because it plumbs to the person’s most basic rights: to define himself or herself, to relate to others and to live according to the dictates of his conscience. Thus, Foreign Service professionals who hope to skip to the part detailing what diplomats should “do” about re- ligious freedom miss the point: basic human rights and their promotion stand and fall on their own, irrespec- tive of utility. That’s not to deny that diplomats will also find a national interest in pro- moting religious freedom. States that respect religious freedom tend not to incubate terrorism, while those that repress it generally do. In any case, the demand for reli- gious freedom isn’t going away any- time soon. As Shah and Franck observe: “In virtually every part of the world, religious actors increasingly seek to enjoy the right to exist, organ- ize and influence public opinion and political decisions on the same basis as non-religious actors.” They continue: “The future of nu- merous societies of strategic impor- tance to the United States — in- cluding China, India, Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Iran — will depend in no small part on how they respond to the insistent demands of their di- verse religious communities for free- dom and security.” If believers keep pressing their demands for freedom, America will have to take sides. The task force focuses specific at- tention on the Islamic world. For the “moderate Islam” in which so many Westerners put such faith to emerge, there must be political space. And if a regime favors just one sect of Islam, it is unlikely to be a “moderate” one. In such cases, the country’s society will not develop the ability to peace- fully test divergent religious opinions. And absent those natural release valves, extremism grows. America’s national interest clearly lies in defending religious freedom, especially as the full impact of the Arab Spring unfolds. Concretely, the report advocates nine major steps to B O O K S The Wars of Afghanistan is a timely look at the realities of making and implementing foreign policy.