Progressive politics, ideas & culture


battle for hearts and minds update

This Magazine Staff

In a story today on the very terrifying liquid explosive terror plot, The New York Times talks to Simon Reeve, author of a 1999 book on Osama bin Laden.
Mr. Reeve said that while traveling recently in Indonesia he heard of many baby boys being named Osama in honor of Mr. bin Laden.
In part because of the Iraq war, he said, “We’re seeing a radicalization of the ummah, the larger Muslim community around the world.”
Now, before someone on either the left or right accuses me of excusing terrorism with a root-cause ideology, I just want to point out that winning the hearts and minds of the Muslim street was for awhile there the hyped justification for specific US foreign policy adventures in recent years.
I’m just wondering if the US government has an update for us on how all that is going. I think the past five years have educated the west on Islam and given the wider, non-radicalized Muslim community greater prominence in geo-political discussion, and that’s all good. But if experts can point to US policy decisions and say they are partly responsible for increasing radicalization of Muslim populations, isn’t it time to re-examine?

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