Interview: Middle East Expert Dr. John L. Esposito

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Executive Editor Garrett Redfield had a chance to talk to Middle East expert Dr. John L. Esposito to get his insights on the Middle East, Muslims and Islam.

Dr. John L. Esposito is the Founding Director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in the Walsh School of Foreign Service and a professor at Georgetown University. Dr. Esposito has served as consultant to the U.S. Department of State and other agencies, European and Asian governments and corporations, universities, and the media worldwide.

In addition to his many publications and awards, Dr. Esposito is a former President of the Middle East Studies Association of North America and of the American Council for the Study of Islamic Societies, Vice Chair of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, and member of the World Economic Forum’s Council of 100 Leaders. He currently serves as Vice President (2011) and President Elect (2012) of the American Academy of Religion and a member of the E. C. European Network of Experts on De-Radicalisation and the board of C-1 World Dialogue and an ambassador for the UN Alliance of Civilizations.

The interview was conducted in two parts. In Part 1 and 2 the following questions were addressed:

Part I – To Watch Click Here

  1. What is the best explanatory fact for why Muslims and Islam are misunderstood?
  2. How much of what we witness today has to do with the historical conflict between Christians and Muslims?
  3. What is the best way to counter the radicalization that tends to drown out the non-radical elements of Islam?
  4. How do we marginalize those extremist elements?
  5. A Gallup poll found that a majority of Muslims globally desire democracy and freedom. Why then are many Muslim nations not democratic?
  6. With the history of U.S. mismanagement of Mid-East foreign policy, how much damage has been done regarding the building of relations once a democratic government comes in?

Part II – To Watch Click Here

  1. (Inquiry from SIA student) Jordan has not been subjected to the same upheaval as other nations regarding the “Arab Spring.” What changes has the Jordanian government made that allow the current regime to stay in power?
  2. (Inquiry from SIA student) Regarding the failed U.S. interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, what changes have there been in perceptions of the U.S. prior to and after 2001?
  3. What are some problems regarding the president allowing drone strikes on American citizens abroad if they are part of extremist elements?
  4. How do we turn the rhetoric of hatred of the West used to recruit Islamic extremists, from a recruiting tool of strength to a weakness?



Garrett Redfield is a Master of International Affairs Candidate at the School of International Affairs at The Pennsylvania State University. As an adopted Korean American, he has a strong interest in Korean Peninsula affairs, and focuses on Korean Reunification. Garrett has lived in Korea for an extensive amount of time, mainly as a former ESL instructor. He is proficient in Korean.


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