Vital Perspective has been invited to participate in a new blog run by the Washington Post and moderated by columnists David Ignatius and Fareed Zakaria, called PostGlobal. We're honored and excited about this new opportunity, and welcome PostGlobal readers to our site.
Below is our response to the following prompt: American policies and rhetoric in the past three years has created a rise in anti-U.S. sentiment among the world's Muslims, some of whom are turning to violence. Should it be a goal of the U.S. to reduce that hostility and, if so, what's the best way to do it?
It cannot be argued or reasoned away that anti-Western sentiment among the world’s Muslims was not fervent prior to the invasion of Iraq. Have we forgotten the bombings against tourists in Bali, the attack on the French oil tanker Limburg, the bombing of the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Calcutta, the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl, and of course, 9/11?
Our allies in the region are committed to helping the U.S. win the war on terror. Intelligence has proven strong in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, which assisted the U.S. in the capture of Abu Zubaida and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, among others. Not to mention the Iraqis that dropped a dime on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Some would have the U.S. support moderates in the Muslim world and build up our alliances within the existing framework of allies to win the war on terror. This, however, ignores the threat that state sponsors of terror pose and puts us back into a foreign policy where the empowered extremists can use their terrorist contractors to attack worldwide. It was exactly that sort of policy that created a more acute terror threat, and we ignore it at our own peril. Fortunately, there is a solution to reverse a generation of disdain for the West in the region: cultural exchanges, democratic reform and broad economic investment. Hostility to the West cannot be reversed in a day; it’s a process that requires a long-term commitment from America that we must continue with to make our nation more secure.