WASHINGTON, D.C., June 5, 2009 – President Obama’s speech in Cairo broke new ground in the relationship between the United States and Muslim populations worldwide, said CNAS Vice President and U.S. public diplomacy expert Dr. Kristin Lord.
“For the past eight years, the prevailing narrative has portrayed America’s relations with the world’s one billion Muslims in simplistic “us/them” terms,” Lord said. “While frankly acknowledging a complex history characterized by division and suffering, Obama helped change that narrative by presenting a compelling vision for the future and a peaceful path to change.”
Lord strongly supports Obama’s call to increase U.S. investment in science, technology, and education in the region. “Building these networks of positive relationships, like we have done in many other regions in the world, provides a foundation for productive, mutually-beneficial partnerships that are strong and enduring. It also confronts the challenge posed by a burgeoning youth population who face all too few opportunities.”
“The United States can also work hand in hand with Muslim populations toward the shared goal of diminishing violent extremism, which threatens both Americans and Muslims worldwide,” Lord added. “Muslim communities, not the United States, are both the primary victim of violent extremism and the most powerful force to isolate extremists and their vicious ideologies. But America can send strong signals that the United States is not a threat to Islam and that Americans are dedicated to working with all nations to create a better future for their citizens as well as our own. We can show by example that supporting violent extremist groups is not the way forward, it is the way backward.”
Lord, along with CNAS President Dr. John Nagl, is the author of a new report released today, Beyond Bullets: A Pragmatic Strategy to Combat Violent Extremism. The report calls on the United States to re-commit to countering violent extremism by employing an approach that is sustainable, properly resourced, grounded in bipartisan political support, and bolstered by a dense network of partnerships that engages actors both inside and outside of government.
“The United States is uniquely poised to build the partnerships necessary to combat violent extremism,” said Lord. “The goal for the Administration now should be to capitalize on the momentum created by the President’s speech.”
Dr. Lord's recent publications:
- A New Millennium of Knowledge? The Arab Human Development Report on Building a Knowledge Society, Five Years On (2008)
- Voices of America: U.S. Public Diplomacy in the 21st Century (2008)
- The Perils and Promise of Global Transparency: Why the Information Revolution May Not Lead to Security Democracy or Peace (SUNY Press, 2006)
The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) is an independent and nonpartisan research institution that develops strong, pragmatic and principled national security and defense policies that promote and protect American interests and values. CNAS leads efforts to help inform and prepare the national security leaders of today and tomorrow.