Bipartisan Group of U.S. Leaders Calls for 'Changed Course' in Relations With the Muslim World

Leaders Call 'Global War on Terror' an Inadequate Response, Propose Comprehensive U.S.-Muslim Relations Strategy to Prevent Another 9/11 "Few challenges matter more than reducing distrust and misunderstanding between the United States and...


Leaders Call 'Global War on Terror' an Inadequate Response, Propose Comprehensive U.S.-Muslim Relations Strategy to Prevent Another 9/11

"Few challenges matter more than reducing distrust and misunderstanding between the United States and people living in Muslim majority states. This timely report is a groundbreaking, stereotype-shattering and thought-provoking contribution to that essential cause."

-- Madeleine Albright , former U.S. Secretary of State, member of the U.S.-Muslim Engagement Project's Leadership Group

" The United States needs to make a significant shift in our relations with Muslim countries, relying more on diplomacy and helping lay the foundation for democratic development."

-- Richard Armitage , former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State and Leadership Group member

WASHINGTON , Sept. 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today at the National Press Club, the bipartisan Leadership Group of the U.S.-Muslim Engagement Project released its report entitled Changing Course: A New Direction for U.S. Relations with the Muslim World.

The report argues that the Global War on Terror has been an inadequate framework for improving our security and preventing future 9/11s. It proposes a comprehensive strategy with concrete actions to reverse extremism, increase U.S. and international security and improve U.S. relations with Muslim countries and communities. The report also calls upon Muslim leaders to take reciprocal steps to improve relations.

This morning, several members of this Leadership Group briefed House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard L. Berman (D-Calif.) on the report. Rep. Berman welcomed the report, stating, "This study explores in depth one of the central global challenges of our time: developing harmonious relations between Muslim-majority countries and the West. It offers thoughtful, creative, and multi-faceted proposals for meeting that challenge. Congress should give those proposals the fullest possible consideration."

The report asserts that the much-publicized debate between the United States and the Muslim world is not as deep or irreconcilable as many believe. Policies and actions -- not a clash of civilizations -- are at the root of these tensions.

"The best available public opinion research shows that the vast majority of Muslims share core interests and values with the citizens of the United States : economic opportunity, political freedom and the rule of law," said Dalia Mogahed, Executive Director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, and a member of the Leadership Group. "Only a tiny minority of Muslims is involved in violence against the United States and its allies. The extremists' ability to recruit, operate, and inflict harm depends on a more widespread set of active and passive supporters. We believe that our strategy can reduce the base of support for extremism."

At the core of the strategy is a "four pillar approach." Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright explained, "The key to moderating extremism is a comprehensive policy that addresses the main sources of tension. Together with partners in the Muslim world, we should employ diplomacy to reduce conflict, technical assistance to improve governance, economic help to create jobs, and dialogue to build mutual respect and understanding."

Leadership Group member and former U.S. Representative Vin Weber elaborated that, "The Leadership Group, the U.S. military and U.S. public all recognize the limits of military force, and the need for a more comprehensive set of tools to resolve conflicts with and within Muslim countries. By clarifying our approach, we will also help to reverse the widespread perception among Muslims around the world that the United States is engaged in a 'war on Islam.' The Leadership Group believes that the United States can and should use diplomacy far more proactively to resolve the major conflicts we now face. We may not succeed in all cases, but the possible benefits of direct engagement with both allies and adversaries are much bigger than the costs."

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