Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed
Born 1978 (age 35–36)
Residence United Kingdom
Nationality British
Occupation Author, Journalist, Scholar
Home town London

Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed (born 1978)[1] is a British author, investigative journalist, and international security scholar. He is Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Research and Development (IPRD), an independent think tank focused on the study of violent conflict in the context of global ecological, energy and economic crises; and a film-maker who has co-produced and written The Crisis of Civilization, and associate produced Grasp the Nettle, both directed by Dean Puckett. Ahmed's academic work has focused on the systemic causes of mass violence. He has taught at the Department of International Relations, University of Sussex, and has lectured at Brunel University’s Politics & History Unit at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, for courses in international relations theory, contemporary history, empire and globalization.[2] He is a former environment blogger for The Guardian, writing regularly for the website from March 2013 to July 2014.[3][4]

Ahmed now contributes a weekly column to Middle East Eye, the London-based news portal founded by an ex-Guardian leader writer David Hearst,[5] and is 'System Shift' columnist at VICE's Motherboard.[6] Ahmed is founding editor of Insurge Intelligence, a crowdfunded investigative journalism project.[7]

Education and career[edit]

Ahmed received an M.A. in Contemporary War & Peace Studies and a DPhil in International Relations from the School of Global Studies at Sussex University, where he taught for a period in the Department of International Relations.[2] His focus is on Western military action, counterinsurgency, the war on terror, and the interconnections of systemic global crises.


Ahmed's first book, The War on Freedom: How and Why America was Attacked, September 11, 2001, was praised by the American essayist Gore Vidal in the London Observer newspaper, where he described Ahmed's book as "the best and most balanced report" on 9/11.[8]

Ahmed's later book, The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism, follows up from his first book, with a critical evaluation of the findings of the 9/11 Commission. The book was positively reviewed by Murad Wilfried Hofmann, former NATO Director of Information (1983-1987).[9]

A User's Guide to the Crisis of Civilization[edit]

Ahmed's book, A User's Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It, received a notice in The Guardian which commented: "Ahmed could be charged with a certain ebullience in his delineating of potential catastrophe, which will necessitate 'the dawn of a post-carbon civilisation'. But his arguments are in the main forceful and well-sourced, with particularly good sections on agribusiness, US policies of 'energy security', and what he terms the 'securitisation' of ordinary life by western governments."[10]

In The Oil Drum, Jeff Vail, a former US Department of Interior analyst specialising in energy infrastructure, "highly recommends" the book, concluding: "In the end, if the crisis of our modern civilization can be solved—or at least if the transition to whatever replaces it can be softened—then it will be through a syncretic understanding of the system of threats we face, such as that presented by Dr. Ahmed, that pave the way."[11]

A review in Marx & Philosophy of Books, however, criticises the book's approach to systems theory with regards to Ahmed's proposed solutions. Although the reviewer, Dr Robert Drury King, an assistant professor at Sierra Nevada College specialising in systems, acknowledges that "Ahmed draws convincingly and commandingly on a number of fields, including climate sciences, geology, monetary and financial economics, and systems theory, among many others. The impressive scope of the book owes to the fact that Ahmed is very deliberately a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary scholar" - he questions whether there is "a clear and feasible notion of systematicity" that is "applied methodologically to the resolution of the identified crises." King says that "Ahmed’s proposed solutions to global, systemic crises remain, in fact, largely unarticulated in systematic terms" and amount largely to "voluntaristic, wishful-thinking."[12]


Nafeez Ahmed's disagreement with Christopher Hitchens over Gore Vidal[edit]

In his 2010 essay in Vanity Fair attacking Gore Vidal, Christopher Hitchens criticises Ahmed, who Vidal relied on for his 9/11 essay in The Observer. Hitchens wrote: "Mr. Ahmed on inspection proved to be a risible individual wedded to half-baked conspiracy-mongering, his 'Institute' a one-room sideshow in the English seaside town of Brighton, and his publisher an outfit called 'Media Monitors Network' in association with 'Tree of Life,' whose now-deceased Web site used to offer advice on the ever awkward question of self-publishing."[13]

Ahmed responded with a letter to the editor, published by Vanity Fair, asserting that Hitchens's article contained "major inaccuracies": "Hitchens’s reduction of me to 'conspiracy-mongering' and as having a 'one-room sideshow' institute is contrasted by the fact that I’m an academic at the University of Sussex; my book, The War on Freedom, was used by the 9/11 commission; I’ve testified before the U.S. Congress; I’ve given evidence to a U.K. parliamentary inquiry; and my institute is advised by a board of 20 leading scholars. Hitchens also bizarrely targets my first publisher, which is not 'deceased' but is in fact a flourishing alternative news source." Hitchens offered a further reply in the magazine: "On reflection and on a rereading of his 'book,' I would change my original article and remove the word 'risible.' A more apposite term for both the author and his illiterate pages would be 'contemptible.'"[14]

As no further right of reply was permitted, Ahmed followed up with a detailed critique of Hitchens' attack on both himself and Gore Vidal in a feature article published by The Independent on Sunday. He argued that:

the pre-9/11 intelligence failure was not simply because of a lack of reliable intelligence, or because intelligence bureaucracy was hopelessly incompetent (which it was and is), but ultimately because the Bush administration made political decisions that obstructed critical intelligence investigations and ongoing information-sharing that could have prevented 9/11. Those decisions were made to protect vested interests linked to US support of Islamist extremist networks like the Taliban and their state-sponsors, such as the Gulf kingdoms, rooted in Western oil dependency and intersecting financial investments. The inadequacy of the 9/11 Commission investigation, in this regard, is an open secret to many intelligence experts.[15]

He went on to discuss overlooked evidence that the US air defence failure on 9/11 was due to the latter having been contracted out to an obscure firm, Ptech, with connections to Saudi-sponsored and al-Qaeda linked terrorists and terrorist-funders, which was able to interfere with the FAA and other agencies.[15]

On the same day, The Independent on Sunday ran a news story on the whole episode, reporting that Ahmed "had not suggested there was a conspiracy [on 9/11], rather a 'dereliction of duty'", and that he had "used the word 'complicity' in a legal sense."[16]

Nafeez Ahmed and Discover magazine[edit]

In 2014, Discover, an American general audience science magazine, published a blog article by Keith Kloor concerning Ahmed's Guardian article[17] about a supposedly "NASA-sponsored" and funded study of about the collapse of industrial civilisation.[18] Kloor objected to the lack of independent responses to the paper, yet to be published at the time, from other scholars in the field. A second post on the study by Kloor detailed serious reservations by specialists on the collapse study leading to an assertion that Ahmed had made an "uncritical appraisal".[19] The story was reported internationally by other media outlets, but Ahmed's claims about NASA were officially rejected.[18] In a statement, NASA commented that the collapse study "was not solicited, directed or reviewed by NASA. It is an independent study by the university researchers utilizing research tools developed for a separate NASA activity. As is the case with all independent research, the views and conclusions in the paper are those of the authors alone. NASA does not endorse the paper or its conclusions."[18]

Ahmed disputed the claim that NASA funding had not supported the study by quoting its notice to that effect, and asserted that the paper's authors backed his earlier comments.[20]

Discover has labelled Ahmed as a "doomer." A December 2013 blog post by Kloor asserts: "Once someone starts down this civilization-is-collapsing road, like Guardian blogger Nafeez Ahmed, it’s hard to stop. If you want a tour guide to the apocalypse, Ahmed is your guy."[21] A March 2014 blog post says: "Like the most warped fundamentalists who exploit tragedy, the merchants of eco-doom also cynically seize on current events. On this score, nobody rivals Nafeez Ahmed (the UK Left’s faux-scholarly equivalent to Glenn Beck), who has an unquenchable appetite for peak-everything porn."[22]

Ahmed rejected the characterisation of his work as being marked by "doom" following his first post on the collapse study. In March 2014, he wrote in his Guardian blog: "Rather what we are seeing ... are escalating, interconnected symptoms of the unsustainability of the global system in its current form. While the available evidence suggests that business-as-usual is likely to guarantee worst-case scenarios, simultaneously humanity faces an unprecedented opportunity to create a civilisational form that is in harmony with our environment, and ourselves."[23]

The Crisis of Civilization[edit]

Promotional Poster for The Crisis of Civilization. Design: Abby Martin

Following the release of Ahmed's 2010 book, A User's Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It, a chance meeting with filmmaker Dean Puckett led to the development of a feature documentary, The Crisis of Civilization.[24]

Critical reception[edit]

The Crisis of Civilization was received positively by Hitcham Yezza, editor of Ceasefire magazine, who the "film is necessary viewing, not just for activists but for anyone who’s planning to hang around this planet for the foreseeable future. Yes, I’m looking at you."[25] Elsewhere, Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute said of the film, "a really fantastic overview of the global situation. I don’t think I’ve seen a more comprehensive ‘welcome to the 21st century’."


Academic articles[edit]

  • "The International Relations of Crisis and the Crisis of International Relations: From the Securitisation of Scarcity to the Militarisation of Society", Global Change, Peace & Security (Vol. 23, No. 3, October 2011)
  • "Colonial Dynamics of Genocide: Imperialism, Identity and Mass Violence", Journal of Conflict Transformation & Security (Vol. 1, No. 1, April 2011) pp. 8–36
  • "Overcoming Paralysis on Climate Change", Survival: Global Politics & Strategy (Vol. 53, No. 1, February–March 2011) pp. 203–206
  • "Water, oil and demographics: The Arab world‟s triple crisis", Europe’s World: The Only Europe-Wide Policy Journal (Vol. 17, Spring 2011) pp. 121–123
  • "Globalizing Insecurity: The Convergence of Interdependent Ecological, Energy and Economic Crises", Yale Journal of International Affairs (Vol. 5, No. 2, 2010) pp. 75–90
  • "India and the Crisis of Civilization: Potential Impacts of Converging Ecological, Economic and Energy Catastrophes", India Economy Review (Vol. 7, March 2010) pp. 90–97
  • "The Crisis of (Post) Modernity: The De-Sacralisation of the Social, the Death of Democracy, and the Reclamation of Islamic Tradition", Arches Quarterly (Vol. 3, No. 1, Summer 2009) pp. 25–32
  • "Anglo-American World Order: 30 Years After the Islamic Revolution of Iran", Islamism Digest: Journal of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism (Vol. 4, No. 2, February 2009) pp. 14–19
  • "Review – Purify and destroy: the political uses of massacre and genocide, by Jacques Semelin", International Affairs (Vol. 84, No. 4, July 2008) pp. 836–837
  • "Terrorism and Western Statecraft", in Paul Zarembka (ed.), The Hidden History of 9-11-2002 (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2008) pp. 143–182
  • "Structural Violence as a Form of Genocide: The Impact of the International Economic Order", Entelequia. Revista Interdisciplinar [Entelechy: Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies](University of Malaga, No. 5, Fall 2007) pp. 3–41
  • "Terrorism and Western Statecraft: Al-Qaeda and Western Covert Operations After the Cold War", Research in Political Economy (Emerald: Vol. 23, 2006) pp. 149–188
  • "UN Humanitarian Intervention in East Timor: A Critical Appraisal", Entelequia. Revista Interdisciplinar (University of Malaga, No. 2, Fall 2006) pp. 227–244
  • "The Globalization of Insecurity: How the international economic order undermines human and national security on a world scale", Historia Actual [Contemporary History] (University of Cadiz, No. 5, 2004) pp. 113–126
  • "The Discourse of Empire: United States National Security Strategies Since 1945", in Ronald Thoden (ed.), Terror und Staat: Der 11 September – Hintergrunde und Folgen: Goestregie, Terror, Geheimdienste, Medien, Kriege, Folter, Edition Zeitgeschichte (Berlin: Kai Homilius Verlag, 2004)
  • "State Terrorism at the Dawn of the New American Century", Afterword to William Blum [former State Department official], ll libro nero degli Stati Uniti (Rome: Fazi Editore, 2003)
  • "America and the Taliban: From Co-operation to War", Global Dialogue (Vol. 4, No. 2, Spring 2002) 7
  • "Distortion, Deception and Terrorism: The Bombing of Afghanistan", International Socialist Review (No. 20, November/December 2001) pp. 36–44

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Background, Nafeez Ahmed's website
  2. ^ a b "Dr Nafeez Ahmed", University of Sussex staff page
  3. ^ "Contributor page". The Guardian. 
  4. ^ "Statement in response to a blog post by Nafeez Ahmed". Guardian News and Media Press Office (Press release). 5 December 2014. 
  5. ^ "Nafeez Ahmed". Middle East Eye. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  6. ^ "System Shift column". Motherboard (VICE). Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  7. ^ "Patreon: Support the creators you love". Patreon. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  8. ^ Gore Vidal, "The Enemy Within," The Observer, Sunday 27 October 2002, Review Section, pp. 1-4, full text available online at
  9. ^ Wilfried Hofmann, Review of The War on Truth, The Muslim World Book Review, 2004
  10. ^ Poole, Steven (1 January 2011). "Et cetera: non-fiction roundup". The Guardian. 
  11. ^ Jeff Vail, 'A review of Nafeez Ahmed's latest book', The Oil Drum, 13 November 2010,
  12. ^ Robert Drury King, 'Review', Marx & Philosophy Review of Books, 2011,
  13. ^ Hitchens, Christopher (February 2010). "Vidal Loco". Vanity Fair. 
  14. ^ "Nafeez Ahmed responds to Cristopher Hitchens". Vanity Fair. February 2010. 
  15. ^ a b Ahmed, Nafeez (7 February 2010). "Hitchens has no clothes". Independent on Sunday (London). 
  16. ^ Kate Youde "Christopher Hitchens attacks Gore Vidal for being a 'crackpot'", Independent on Sunday, 7 February 2010
  17. ^ Nafeez Ahmed "Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for 'irreversible collapse'?", theguardian, 14 March 2014
  18. ^ a b c Keith Kloor "Collide-A-Scape: About that Popular Guardian Story on the Collapse of Industrial Civilization", Discover, 14 March 2014
  19. ^ Keith Kloor "Judging the Merits of a Media-Hyped ‘Collapse’ Study", Discover, 21 March 2014
  20. ^ Nafeez Ahmed "Did Nasa fund 'civilisation collapse' study, or not?",, 21 March 2014
  21. ^ "The Well-Intentioned, Misguided Eco-Doomers". Collide-a-Scape. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  22. ^ "The Merchants of Doom". Collide-a-Scape. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  23. ^ Nafeez Ahmed "The global Transition tipping point has arrived - vive la révolution",, 178 March 2014
  24. ^ ""The Crisis of Civilization"". Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  25. ^ "Review: The Crisis of Civilization", Ceasefire Magazine, 28 November 2011

External links[edit]