Ahmed, Akbar, The Thistle and the Drone. How America’s War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam, Washington, Brookings Institution Press, 2013, 400p.

ahmedInThe Thistle and the Drone, world-renowned author, diplomat, and scholar Akbar Ahmed draws on 40 current case studies in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, to reveal a tremendously important yet largely unrecognized adverse effect of campaigns on the war against terror. Ahmed argues that in the aftermath of 9/11, the use of drones as a leading military counterinsurgency weapon has morphed into a campaign against tribal peoples that has actually exacerbated the already-broken relationship between central governments and the tribal societies on their periphery. Although al Qaeda has been decimated, the U.S. is drifting into a global war against tribal societies on the periphery of nations.

In the third volume of his trilogy that includes Journey into Islam (2007) and Journey into America (2010), Ahmed offers an alternative and unprecedented paradigm for winning the war on terror.


The Thistle and Drone was awarded the prestigious German Peace Prize at the 2014 Karachi Literary Festival. On accepting the award, Ambassador Akbar Ahmed said:


“Over the past decades, especially after 9/11, I have committed my life to understanding and explaining the complex relationship between the West and the Muslim world, promoting interfaith dialogue, and building bridges between peoples and communities. With so much violence and turmoil running rampant across the world today, I believe that promoting knowledge and understanding is the key to finding peace. …I am inspired by the saying of the Prophet of Islam, ‘The ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr.’”

The Thistle and Drone was named the 2014 Gold Winner in Political Science from Foreword Review‘s IndieFab Awards.

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