Who got that job?

December 21, 2007

Alia Brahimi

Research associate, Oxford Leverhulme programme on the changing character of war, department of politics and international relations, Oxford University

Job advertised in The Times Higher, March 16, 2007

Alia Brahimi recently completed her PhD thesis - "Just War and Jihad in the War on Terror" - examining the moral arguments of the War on Terror.

The idea for the analysis came to her while she was in Lebanon.

"We were living in Beirut when the 9/11 attacks happened in the US," she said. "My mum is from the US and my dad is Algerian, so I can understand English, Arabic and French. The Lebanese have very strong media, and I ended up becoming aware of a severe mismatch in the way the 'just war' thesis was being presented."

Dr Brahimi found that both al-Qaeda and the Bush Administration deviated from and reinterpreted the traditionally accepted definitions of a just war.

"Jihadis in local groups often take up arms for the collective defence of the Muslim community as a way to obtain fair human rights within Islamic tradition," Dr Brahimi said. "In abstracting from the local situation to the global, an organisation such as al-Qaeda can articulate a 'war of self-defence' with new values of nihilistic, utopian aims, finding resonance worldwide in the anger of people who are dispossessed.

"Likewise, the Bush Administration wants to export liberty and democracy and so has been redefining the basis for pre-emptive warfare to spearhead belligerent aggression in Iraq. We need to listen more closely to what groups are saying. The arguments from both sides are symbols of broader moral agendas."

Dr Brahimi is now converting her thesis into a book, a process she is finding "far more long-winded than anticipated".

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