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Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror

In Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror, which first appeared under anonymous authorship, CIA analyst Michael Scheruer offers his explanation why so many Arabs hold the United States in contempt, and why Osama bin Laden is nearly a cult hero. It’s intriguing and disquieting. He says they don’t dislike us because we’re free, they dislike us because of what we do in their part of the world. We extract oil that keeps despots in power. We overlook human rights abuses among some of the most corrupt governments anywhere. And we continue to tilt toward Israel and ignore the desperate pleas of the Palestinian people. They dislike our policies, not our freedom nor even our society. Mostly, he claims they would like us to leave them alone rather than make their lives worse.

Osama bin Laden has been adept at exploiting the
raw wounds that fester in corrupt Arab societies and pouring salt into them. As
a result, he has built a following in the Arab world that views him as a hero.
Scheruer is scathing in his critique of right-wing evangelical Christians who,
viewed from the ground level in Arab societies, represent the entire Christian
community. These folks have made statements that are not only insensitive, they
are inflammatory. Instead of helping us understand each other, such statements
lead to deeper division, according to Scheruer. While it’s not necessarily his
point, it leads me to the conclusion that the teaching organizations in the
U.S., the schools and churches have a significant responsibility to carry out
global education. And the voices of moderation and understanding, from all
perspectives must make even greater effort to be heard. We need to cut through
the rhetoric and get to real conversation that holds the promise for mutual
understanding and respect. That’s not an impossibility and its strategic
advantage is that it could help us find a way to peace.

Welcome to Perspectives

Welcome, and thanks for stopping by Perspectives.

In this blog I look at contemporary issues that intersect media, culture and religious faith. I’m motivated, in part, because I think the dialogue has been too limited; in part, because I’m interested in hearing from more voices; and finally because I have to be hopeful that we can overcome the namecalling and division that’s so prevalent today and create a more inclusive and affirmative society. So, I live in hope.

Christian values include
and justice issues,
and healthcare,
human rights
responsibility for
the environment

But hope must live in a real context. For example, the debate over so-called traditional values has been very narrow and incomplete. I believe Christian values include peace and justice issues, food and healthcare, human rights and responsibility for the environment. But these values have gotten precious little attention in the polarized debate about gay marriage and abortion. As a result, we’re not better informed, but we’re
certainly more divided.

I doubt that confrontational media framing brings much light to the darkness. Nor does the politicizing of religion. In fact, I think “either/or” framing of stories is harmful to the public conversation. It distorts our perception and simplifies complicated issues by turning them into bumper sticker slogans. It shuts out too many voices and it doesn’t lead us to creative problem-solving. If, as a result, we are more divided and less understanding then journalism has failed. I hope we preserve journalism that can help us sustain a diverse and inclusive society as the Constitution envisioned.



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