The Battle for the Disenfranchised Majority

"In the aftermath of Sept. 11, the United States finds itself embroiled in two different battles," writes Princeton University history professor Nicholas Guyatt. "The first, waged on the plains and in the mountains of Afghanistan, pits the world's richest nation (and most powerful military) against one of the world's poorest. It's not hard to predict that the United States will probably win this war, although its task in finding a legitimate replacement for the Taliban may be much harder.The second battle, however, is of an altogether different order of magnitude. Since the attacks of Sept. 11, the United States has been engaged in a battle for the hearts and minds of global public opinion -- especially the approval of the Islamic world." Winning that second battle will be difficult, Guyatt says, in light of the long history of disastrous policies that the U.S. policies has pursued in the Middle East. "The calculus of human suffering is far less clear from the perspective of the Middle East, and the awful images of Sept. 11 fade quickly when supplanted by Israeli attacks on Bethlehem or even the 'collateral damage' of the U.S. bombing campaign in Afghanistan. ... Will the United States acknowledge the importance of this second battle and begin in earnest to reach out to the disenchanted majority in the Muslim world?"