Lawrence Rubin

Associate Professor

Member Of:
  • School of International Affairs
  • Center for International Strategy, Technology, and Policy
Office Location:
Habersham 149
Overview

Lawrence Rubin is an associate professor and the Director of Graduate Studies in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology as well as a faculty affiliate of the Center for International Strategy Technology, and Policy. His research interests include Middle East politics and international security with a specific focus on Islam and politics, Arab foreign policies, and nuclear proliferation. He has conducted research in Morocco, Egypt, Israel, the UAE, and Yemen.

Rubin is currently on leave for the 2017-2018 AY to serve in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy through a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellowship in Nuclear Security, sponsored by the Stanton Foundation.

Rubin is the author and editor of three books including: The End of Strategic Stability: Asymmetric Threats and Regional Rivalries (Georgetown University Press, 2018) with Adam Stulberg, Islam in the Balance: Ideational Threats in Arab Politics (Stanford University Press, 2014), and Terrorist Rehabilitation and Counter-Radicalisation: New Approaches to Counter-terrorism (Routledge 2011) with Rohan Gunaratna and Jolene Jerard. His other work has been published in International Studies Review, Politics, Religion & Ideology, Middle East Policy, Terrorism and Political Violence, Contemporary Security Policy, Democracy and SecurityBritish Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Lawfare, the Brookings Institute, The National Interest, The Washington Quarterly, and The Washington Post

Prior to coming to Georgia Tech, Rubin was a Research Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs with the Dubai Initiative in Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government (2009-2010) and was lecturer on the Robert and Myra Kraft chair in Arab politics at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies, Brandeis University (2008-2009). Outside of Academia, he has held positions at the National Defense University’s Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies and the RAND Corporation. Rubin serves as the Associate Editor for the journal Terrorism and Political Violence.

Rubin received his PhD in Political Science from UCLA (2009) and earned degrees from University of Oxford, London School of Economics, and UC Berkeley.  His research has been supported by the Hollings Center for International Dialogue, the Institute of Global Cooperation and Conflict, the U.S. Department of Education, Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy, Project on Middle East Political Science, and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

Areas of
Expertise:
  • Middle East Politics
Interests
Research Fields:
  • Global Nuclear Security
  • Regional Security Challenges
Geographic
Focuses:
  • Middle East
Issues:
  • Energy
  • Weapons and Security
  • Religion and Politics
  • Terrorism
Courses
  • INTA-2260: Govt Pol Soc-Middle East
  • INTA-3103: Challenge of Terrorism
  • INTA-3260: Middle East Relations
  • INTA-4500: INTA Pro-Seminar
  • INTA-6103: International Security
  • INTA-8010: IAST Ph.D. Proseminar
Recent Publications

Journal Articles

  • The Ascendance of Official Islams
       In: Democracy and Security [Peer Reviewed]

    2018

    ABSTRACT

    This article examines how and why four Arab states, Morocco, Jordan, Tunisia, and Egypt, have increased official Islam (OI) to counter the new challenges in the regional environment following the Arab uprisings. It argues that regimes responded to the initial rise of popular Islam as well as the threat from extremist groups by enhancing their support for official Islam. In an effort to control the religious space and legitimize their rule, these regimes have allocated financial resources, political capital, and institutional power to elements of official Islam. Furthermore, these regimes’ survival strategies vary according to the regime type and the presence or absence of inherited religious institutions. For example, we find that Tunisia turned to foreign training of their imams and greater cooperation with religious leaders in other countries. By contrast, Egypt, under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, further coopted al-Azhar and OI by setting the agenda for how religion institutions should engage society. Meanwhile, Jordan continued its long-standing development of OI while Morocco further expanded and internationalized OI. These similar goals but distinct approaches demonstrate the importance of the understanding the context in which these specific policies are developed.

     

  • How states can use ‘Official Islam’ to limit radical extremism
       In: The Washington Post

    November 2017

  • How to Give Counterterrorism a Fighting Chance
       In: The National Interest

    2017

  • Islamic Political Activism among Israel’s Negev Bedouin Population
       In: British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies [Peer Reviewed]

    2017

    Abstract

    This paper examines Islamic political activism among the Bedouin Arab citizens of Israel who reside in the Negev/Naqab (southern Israel). It describes how a religious-political movement became the dominant political force among the non-Jewish communities of the Negev, in doing so, this paper explores the link between religious-political ideology, represented by the Islamic movement, and tribalism, the dominant social-cultural influence among this population. While this paper is a first cut at trying to understand these linkages, I suggest that Israeli Islamist political leaders have mobilized support in two interconnected ways. First, they have attracted support through dawa (religious education), social-welfare activities, and mobilizing symbols. Second, Islamic political activists have worked within and exploited one of the most salient features of Bedouin life, tribalism, by recruiting support from the lower-status, largely urbanized, and landless tribes. These activities have taken place within the broader context of a changing landscape of identity within these communities of the Negev.

  • “Islamic Political Activism among Israel’s Negev Bedouin Population,” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies

    December 2016

  • The Strategic Illogic of Counterterrorism Policy
       In: The Washington Quarterly [Peer Reviewed]

    December 2016

  • The Strategic Illogic of Counterterrorism Policy
       In: The Washington Quarterly [Peer Reviewed]

    December 2016

Working Papers

Internet Publications

All Publications

Books

Journal Articles

  • The Ascendance of Official Islams
       In: Democracy and Security [Peer Reviewed]

    2018

    ABSTRACT

    This article examines how and why four Arab states, Morocco, Jordan, Tunisia, and Egypt, have increased official Islam (OI) to counter the new challenges in the regional environment following the Arab uprisings. It argues that regimes responded to the initial rise of popular Islam as well as the threat from extremist groups by enhancing their support for official Islam. In an effort to control the religious space and legitimize their rule, these regimes have allocated financial resources, political capital, and institutional power to elements of official Islam. Furthermore, these regimes’ survival strategies vary according to the regime type and the presence or absence of inherited religious institutions. For example, we find that Tunisia turned to foreign training of their imams and greater cooperation with religious leaders in other countries. By contrast, Egypt, under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, further coopted al-Azhar and OI by setting the agenda for how religion institutions should engage society. Meanwhile, Jordan continued its long-standing development of OI while Morocco further expanded and internationalized OI. These similar goals but distinct approaches demonstrate the importance of the understanding the context in which these specific policies are developed.

     

  • How states can use ‘Official Islam’ to limit radical extremism
       In: The Washington Post

    November 2017

  • How to Give Counterterrorism a Fighting Chance
       In: The National Interest

    2017

  • Islamic Political Activism among Israel’s Negev Bedouin Population
       In: British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies [Peer Reviewed]

    2017

    Abstract

    This paper examines Islamic political activism among the Bedouin Arab citizens of Israel who reside in the Negev/Naqab (southern Israel). It describes how a religious-political movement became the dominant political force among the non-Jewish communities of the Negev, in doing so, this paper explores the link between religious-political ideology, represented by the Islamic movement, and tribalism, the dominant social-cultural influence among this population. While this paper is a first cut at trying to understand these linkages, I suggest that Israeli Islamist political leaders have mobilized support in two interconnected ways. First, they have attracted support through dawa (religious education), social-welfare activities, and mobilizing symbols. Second, Islamic political activists have worked within and exploited one of the most salient features of Bedouin life, tribalism, by recruiting support from the lower-status, largely urbanized, and landless tribes. These activities have taken place within the broader context of a changing landscape of identity within these communities of the Negev.

  • “Islamic Political Activism among Israel’s Negev Bedouin Population,” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies

    December 2016

  • The Strategic Illogic of Counterterrorism Policy
       In: The Washington Quarterly [Peer Reviewed]

    December 2016

  • The Strategic Illogic of Counterterrorism Policy
       In: The Washington Quarterly [Peer Reviewed]

    December 2016

  • "Why the Islamic State won't become a normal state" in Islam and International Order, POMEPS Studies 15

    July 2015

  • How Jordan uses Islam against the Islamic State

    November 2014

    How Jordan uses Islam against the Islamic State
  • Who's afraid of an "Islamic state?" The Washington Post

    October 2014

    Who's afraid of an "Islamic state?"

  • When Victory Is Not an Option: Islamist Movements in Arab Politics
       In: INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MIDDLE EAST STUDIES

    August 2013

  • The Rise of Official Islam in Jordan

    February 2013

    This paper examines the development of ‘Official Islam’, or state-sponsored religious institutions, in Jordan. We argue that Jordan's development went through three phases. From its independence in 1947 until the revolution, the state undertook minimal efforts to develop this institution. After the Iranian revolution, however, the state changed course by developing two such institutions – the Advisory Council of Dar al-Ifta (Department for Issuing Fatwas) and the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought. These institutional changes set the stage for the regime's new policy of seeking to manage the public religious space. With the rise of Global Jihadism in the late 1990s, however, the state has increasingly empowered both institutions seeking to actively shape the religious space and debate in Jordan.

  • Documenting Saddam Hussein's Iraq

    June 2011

    Regime changes through revolution or war are of great interest for scholars not simply because there is a need to explain these events but also because the conquering army or new regine may release information that enables scholars to assess the previous historical record. Access to state records is particularly important for trying to understand more about social and political life under authoritarian or totalitarian rule.

Chapters

Working Papers

  • “U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East amidst Regional Disorder and Entangled Alliances,”
       In: International Sea Power Symposium Proceedings

    April 2017

  • Islamic Political Activism in Israel

    April 2014

    In this new Saban Center Analysis Paper, Lawrence Rubin examines the curious case of the Islamic movement in Israel, from its origins in the early 1970s, fragmentation in the mid-1990s, to its present state. He provides an overview of this Islamic movement as a window into an under-examined subject at the intersection of Israeli-Arab and Islamist politics.

    Islamic Political Activism in IsraelRubin pays particular attention to the evolution of the Islamic movement by surveying its major inflection points, including its development, its split into hardline and moderate factions and its attempts at reconciliation. The paper also situates this movement within the domestic and regional environment in order to highlight both the similarities and differences between the Israeli Islamic movement and others in the region. Rubin looks at the future trajectories of the movement, including the challenges and opportunities presented by the Prawer Plan and other developments. 

    Finally, the paper concludes by highlighting why this movement is important for Arab-Jewish relations, the peace process and regional peace and stability—and what it means for U.S. foreign policy.

  • Islam in the Balance: Ideational Threats in Arab Politics

    2014

Internet Publications

Other Publications