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If you think the next front in the fight against global terrorism is in Pakistan or Afghanistan, this book will startle you. Four-term U.S. Senator Christopher "Kit" Bond and veteran foreign correspondent Lewis M. Simons reveal that the next front is taking shape right now in a part of the world most Americans haven't thought about since the Vietnam war: Southeast Asia.
Bond and Simons demonstrate compellingly that by beginning in Southeast Asia the Obama administration can reverse the devastating effects of failed policies throughout the Islamic community. The key is a new "smart power" approach, one that combines the "soft" tools of diplomatic, economic, and personal outreach with the fallback "hard" option of military force.
Southeast Asia is home to one of the greatest concentrations of Muslims on Earth. More Muslims live in Indonesia alone than in the entire Middle East. Historically, they have been religious moderates. But today, Islamic fundamentalism and anti-Americanism are on the rise, fueled by the United States' intimate alliance with Israel, its invasion of Iraq, the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, and the Guantanamo Bay imprisonments. These have provoked outrage and provided seemingly irrefutable evidence of America's universal disregard for Muslims.
While this picture is bleak, the central theme of The Next Front is that it is not too late for the United States to turn the rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism in Southeast Asia.
Americans rarely pay serious attention to other nations until they suddenly perceive them to be a threat. Then they find themselves woefully lacking in information and understanding. Hoping to avoid that recurring flaw, Bond and Simons invite readers to travel with them through Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, meeting people at all levels of society. Drawing on their decades of experience, they speak withand, more importantly, listen topresidents and prime ministers, soldiers and policemen, teachers, mothers, lawyers, clergymen, and terrorists. Their stories provide exceptional insights into the politics and economies of their countries as well as their personal concerns, motivations, hopes, and fears. With unremitting candor, they reveal complex and often conflicting feelings about America that range from admiration and affection to resentment and hostility. If the United States is to regain respect around the world and stem the tide of religious extremism in Southeast Asia, it must listen to these people and weigh the value of what they seek from us. Americans in sandals and sneakers today will eliminate the need for Americans in combat boots tomorrow.
"The Next Front is an eye-opener. Senator Kit Bond and Lew Simons reawaken us to Southeast Asia. Here's the way to mutual respect between America and Islam."
—Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's Hardball and NBC's The Chris Matthews Show
"The Next Front is important reading for anyone interested in America's relations with the world's Muslims. Bond and Simons demonstrate that a piece of the solution lies with the huge Islamic population of Southeast Asia, a vital region we have largely ignored since the end of the Vietnam War."
—Sen. John McCain
"Kit Bond and Lew Simons masterfully articulate the importance of incorporating Southeast Asia and its Islamic majority into a new twenty-first-century style of diplomatic engagement. Required reading for today's policymakers and anyone who is concerned about the spread of religious extremism."
—Sen. John Kerry, Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
"Rare insights that could only be offered by these two individuals—one a United States senator and the other a Pulitzer Prize winner, both of whom have fastidiously worked to build bridges between the people of Southeast Asia and the United States."
—Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), ranking member, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
"Bond and Simons have cornered the elusive enemy we all face. It is mutual ignorance. . . . The Next Front presents a bold, new, outside-the-box way of thinking for Americans to achieve understanding and peace with Muslims throughout the world."
—Greg Mortenson, author of the No. 1 New York Times bestseller, Three Cups of Tea
I've spent the last few years on and off living in Indonesia, and before that I was spending a lot of time in the Philippines. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Mediocre Gatsby
A thoughtful, admirably well-researched work of journalism. The book reads like a gripping set of first-person reports from Southeast Asia and, at the same time, a cogent argument... Read morePublished on January 25, 2010 by Reginald Stephens
I wish this is required reading for ALL politicians and most everyone that deals even so slightly with foreign affairs.. Read morePublished on November 26, 2009 by Amazon Customer
As someone with a strong interest in US foreign policy but a nascent understanding of Southeast Asian nations' society, government, and history, this book has been crucial in... Read morePublished on November 9, 2009 by Hayden Brown
"The Next Front" should be read by Obama, the Department of State, Department of Defense, and all university majors of International Relations. Read morePublished on November 6, 2009 by Kent Hinckley
This is an excellent read, and most importantly it needs to be read by all if we (U.S. citizens) are going to understand the world of Islam and how to live in peace with Southeast... Read morePublished on November 2, 2009 by P. Adler
Readers concerned about how the U.S. must deal with terrorism rising out of radically fundamental Islam and the overall conduct of American foreign policy -- and we all should be! Read morePublished on October 23, 2009 by Robert Wozniak
I have just read the introduction to this important book and am already moved to speak of what is says. Mr. Read morePublished on October 18, 2009 by Paul Moss
Wonderful read, compelling topic, and practical solutions on stemming radical Islam. Important book for anyone interested in timely world issues.Published on October 14, 2009 by Fred S. Claar