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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
An Important Read for Anyone Interested in US Foreign PolicyPublished on November 9, 2009 by Hayden Brown