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Samuel Helfont

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Latest 9 Oct 2021 | Updated Daily

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Compulsion in Religion: A Conversation with Samuel Helfont (S. 8, Ep 19)

POMEPS Middle East Political Science Podcast

Samuel Helfont talks about his latest book, Compulsion in Religion: Saddam Hussein, Islam, and the Roots of Insurgencies in Iraq, with Marc Lynch on this week’s podcast. The book investigates religion and politics in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq as well as the roots of the religious insurgencies that erupted in Iraq following the American-led invasion in 2003. Helfont said, “I found that there was proliferation of religious symbols and religious rhetoric in Iraq, especially in the 1990s, but when you sort of dug down you see that all of this was promoted and created by the regime. Not as a way to embrace Islamism but as a way to combat it.”“The assumption on the US part was that the Iraqis really didn’t have control, which I find to be just a huge mistake on behalf of people planning the war in 2003. And they go in thinking that the regime, when it crumbles, isn’t going to have much effect on Iraqi society or the religious landscape to the sense that they thought about it because they didn’t think the regime really had control. What you find is that the regime had a very strict control," said Helfont.Helfont explained, “[Saddam Hussein] thinks that religion could be an important instrument for him and his regime, but he has a problem which is that he doesn’t control the religious landscape. So you can’t get into the public and start saying to people ‘Hey be a good Muslim’… So you see Saddam and his regime, the Ba’thist regime, begin to try to shape the religious landscape, try to eliminate people they’d see as problematic, try to replace them with people that they think are more loyal to the regime or at least will follow the rules.”Samuel Helfont is an Assistant Professor of Strategy and policy in the Naval War College program at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He is also an Affiliate Scholar in the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies at Stanford University and a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia. His research focuses on international history and politics in the Middle East, especially Iraq and the Iraq Wars.Music for this season's podcast was created by Feras Arrabi. You can find more of his work on his Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ferasarrabimusic)and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/feras.arrabi/)page.

31mins

29 May 2020

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NBN Book Review: Compulsion in Religion by Samuel Helfont

The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer

Samuel Helfont‘s Compulsion in Religion: Saddam Hussein, Islam and the Roots of Insurgencies in Iraq (Oxford University Press, 2018) makes an invaluable contribution to an understanding of Iraqi strongman’s Saddam Hussein harnessing of Islam in support of his Baathist regime and ideology and to ensure that Islam as a social institution is incapable of turning against him. In doing so, Helfont also contributes to the understanding of the dynamics of religious legitimization of autocratic and illiberal regimes that is at the core of struggles in countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Helfont’s well-written, easily accessible book benefits from access to documents of Saddam Hussein’s government and Baath Party that were captured by US and opposition forces in the wake of the 2003 US invasion and have been unavailable until recently. Helfont also positions religion as a social force that represents both an opportunity and an asset to autocratic leaders who on the one hand garner legitimacy by identification with the faith but also need to ensure that it does not emerge as the motor of opposition or resistance. Helfont further demonstrates that in contrast to the immense infrastructure that Saddam rolled out to bend Islam to his will and interpretation, US forces underestimated the degree of social control that he exerted and lacked the institutional and intelligence capacity to manage religious sentiment in the wake of his overthrow. The breakdown in social control explains, at least in part, the religious insurgencies the US confronted in Iraq since 2003. With his analysis of the management of religion by Saddam and the breakdown after his fall, Helfont has made an important contribution to the study of Iraq.

57mins

2 Oct 2018

Similar People

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Samuel Helfont, “Compulsion in Religion: Saddam Hussein, Islam and the Roots of Insurgencies in Iraq” (Oxford UP, 2018)

New Books in Islamic Studies

Samuel Helfont‘s Compulsion in Religion: Saddam Hussein, Islam and the Roots of Insurgencies in Iraq (Oxford University Press, 2018) makes an invaluable contribution to an understanding of Iraqi strongman’s Saddam Hussein harnessing of Islam in support of his Baathist regime and ideology and to ensure that Islam as a social institution is incapable of turning against him. In doing so, Helfont also contributes to the understanding of the dynamics of religious legitimization of autocratic and illiberal regimes that is at the core of struggles in countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Helfont’s well-written, easily accessible book benefits from access to documents of Saddam Hussein’s government and Baath Party that were captured by US and opposition forces in the wake of the 2003 US invasion and have been unavailable until recently. Helfont also positions religion as a social force that represents both an opportunity and an asset to autocratic leaders who on the one hand garner legitimacy by identification with the faith but also need to ensure that it does not emerge as the motor of opposition or resistance. Helfont further demonstrates that in contrast to the immense infrastructure that Saddam rolled out to bend Islam to his will and interpretation, US forces underestimated the degree of social control that he exerted and lacked the institutional and intelligence capacity to manage religious sentiment in the wake of his overthrow. The breakdown in social control explains, at least in part, the religious insurgencies the US confronted in Iraq since 2003. With his analysis of the management of religion by Saddam and the breakdown after his fall, Helfont has made an important contribution to the study of Iraq. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/islamic-studies

59mins

1 Oct 2018

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Samuel Helfont, “Compulsion in Religion: Saddam Hussein, Islam and the Roots of Insurgencies in Iraq” (Oxford UP, 2018)

New Books in National Security

Samuel Helfont‘s Compulsion in Religion: Saddam Hussein, Islam and the Roots of Insurgencies in Iraq (Oxford University Press, 2018) makes an invaluable contribution to an understanding of Iraqi strongman’s Saddam Hussein harnessing of Islam in support of his Baathist regime and ideology and to ensure that Islam as a social institution is incapable of turning against him. In doing so, Helfont also contributes to the understanding of the dynamics of religious legitimization of autocratic and illiberal regimes that is at the core of struggles in countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Helfont’s well-written, easily accessible book benefits from access to documents of Saddam Hussein’s government and Baath Party that were captured by US and opposition forces in the wake of the 2003 US invasion and have been unavailable until recently. Helfont also positions religion as a social force that represents both an opportunity and an asset to autocratic leaders who on the one hand garner legitimacy by identification with the faith but also need to ensure that it does not emerge as the motor of opposition or resistance. Helfont further demonstrates that in contrast to the immense infrastructure that Saddam rolled out to bend Islam to his will and interpretation, US forces underestimated the degree of social control that he exerted and lacked the institutional and intelligence capacity to manage religious sentiment in the wake of his overthrow. The breakdown in social control explains, at least in part, the religious insurgencies the US confronted in Iraq since 2003. With his analysis of the management of religion by Saddam and the breakdown after his fall, Helfont has made an important contribution to the study of Iraq. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/national-security

59mins

1 Oct 2018

Most Popular

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Samuel Helfont, “Compulsion in Religion: Saddam Hussein, Islam and the Roots of Insurgencies in Iraq” (Oxford UP, 2018)

New Books in Peoples & Places

Samuel Helfont‘s Compulsion in Religion: Saddam Hussein, Islam and the Roots of Insurgencies in Iraq (Oxford University Press, 2018) makes an invaluable contribution to an understanding of Iraqi strongman’s Saddam Hussein harnessing of Islam in support of his Baathist regime and ideology and to ensure that Islam as a social institution...

57mins

1 Oct 2018

Episode artwork

Samuel Helfont, “Compulsion in Religion: Saddam Hussein, Islam and the Roots of Insurgencies in Iraq” (Oxford UP, 2018)

New Books in Politics & Society

Samuel Helfont‘s Compulsion in Religion: Saddam Hussein, Islam and the Roots of Insurgencies in Iraq (Oxford University Press, 2018) makes an invaluable contribution to an understanding of Iraqi strongman’s Saddam Hussein harnessing of Islam in support of his Baathist regime and ideology and to ensure that Islam as a social institution...

57mins

1 Oct 2018

Episode artwork

Samuel Helfont, “Compulsion in Religion: Saddam Hussein, Islam and the Roots of Insurgencies in Iraq” (Oxford UP, 2018)

New Books in Political Science

Samuel Helfont‘s Compulsion in Religion: Saddam Hussein, Islam and the Roots of Insurgencies in Iraq (Oxford University Press, 2018) makes an invaluable contribution to an understanding of Iraqi strongman’s Saddam Hussein harnessing of Islam in support of his Baathist regime and ideology and to ensure that Islam as a social institution is incapable of turning against him. In doing so, Helfont also contributes to the understanding of the dynamics of religious legitimization of autocratic and illiberal regimes that is at the core of struggles in countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Helfont’s well-written, easily accessible book benefits from access to documents of Saddam Hussein’s government and Baath Party that were captured by US and opposition forces in the wake of the 2003 US invasion and have been unavailable until recently. Helfont also positions religion as a social force that represents both an opportunity and an asset to autocratic leaders who on the one hand garner legitimacy by identification with the faith but also need to ensure that it does not emerge as the motor of opposition or resistance. Helfont further demonstrates that in contrast to the immense infrastructure that Saddam rolled out to bend Islam to his will and interpretation, US forces underestimated the degree of social control that he exerted and lacked the institutional and intelligence capacity to manage religious sentiment in the wake of his overthrow. The breakdown in social control explains, at least in part, the religious insurgencies the US confronted in Iraq since 2003. With his analysis of the management of religion by Saddam and the breakdown after his fall, Helfont has made an important contribution to the study of Iraq. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/political-science

59mins

1 Oct 2018

Episode artwork

Samuel Helfont, “Compulsion in Religion: Saddam Hussein, Islam and the Roots of Insurgencies in Iraq” (Oxford UP, 2018)

New Books in Religion

Samuel Helfont‘s Compulsion in Religion: Saddam Hussein, Islam and the Roots of Insurgencies in Iraq (Oxford University Press, 2018) makes an invaluable contribution to an understanding of Iraqi strongman’s Saddam Hussein harnessing of Islam in support of his Baathist regime and ideology and to ensure that Islam as a social institution is incapable of turning against him. In doing so, Helfont also contributes to the understanding of the dynamics of religious legitimization of autocratic and illiberal regimes that is at the core of struggles in countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Helfont’s well-written, easily accessible book benefits from access to documents of Saddam Hussein’s government and Baath Party that were captured by US and opposition forces in the wake of the 2003 US invasion and have been unavailable until recently. Helfont also positions religion as a social force that represents both an opportunity and an asset to autocratic leaders who on the one hand garner legitimacy by identification with the faith but also need to ensure that it does not emerge as the motor of opposition or resistance. Helfont further demonstrates that in contrast to the immense infrastructure that Saddam rolled out to bend Islam to his will and interpretation, US forces underestimated the degree of social control that he exerted and lacked the institutional and intelligence capacity to manage religious sentiment in the wake of his overthrow. The breakdown in social control explains, at least in part, the religious insurgencies the US confronted in Iraq since 2003. With his analysis of the management of religion by Saddam and the breakdown after his fall, Helfont has made an important contribution to the study of Iraq. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/religion

59mins

1 Oct 2018

Episode artwork

Samuel Helfont, “Compulsion in Religion: Saddam Hussein, Islam and the Roots of Insurgencies in Iraq” (Oxford UP, 2018)

New Books in Middle Eastern Studies

Samuel Helfont‘s Compulsion in Religion: Saddam Hussein, Islam and the Roots of Insurgencies in Iraq (Oxford University Press, 2018) makes an invaluable contribution to an understanding of Iraqi strongman’s Saddam Hussein harnessing of Islam in support of his Baathist regime and ideology and to ensure that Islam as a social institution is incapable of turning against him. In doing so, Helfont also contributes to the understanding of the dynamics of religious legitimization of autocratic and illiberal regimes that is at the core of struggles in countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Helfont’s well-written, easily accessible book benefits from access to documents of Saddam Hussein’s government and Baath Party that were captured by US and opposition forces in the wake of the 2003 US invasion and have been unavailable until recently. Helfont also positions religion as a social force that represents both an opportunity and an asset to autocratic leaders who on the one hand garner legitimacy by identification with the faith but also need to ensure that it does not emerge as the motor of opposition or resistance. Helfont further demonstrates that in contrast to the immense infrastructure that Saddam rolled out to bend Islam to his will and interpretation, US forces underestimated the degree of social control that he exerted and lacked the institutional and intelligence capacity to manage religious sentiment in the wake of his overthrow. The breakdown in social control explains, at least in part, the religious insurgencies the US confronted in Iraq since 2003. With his analysis of the management of religion by Saddam and the breakdown after his fall, Helfont has made an important contribution to the study of Iraq. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies

59mins

1 Oct 2018