September 11, 2008

Rethinking the Message We’re Sending

“The ideology behind 9/11 has become mainstream in much of the Middle East” said Jim Sciutto, author of Against Us: The New Face of America’s Enemies in the Muslim World. Jim Sciutto in his first public appearance since the books publishing was hosted by David Gray from the New America Foundation yesterday.

The book profiled eight people from various Middle Eastern countries throughout the last seven years, analyzing the roots of their negative views of US foreign policy; the war in Iraq, the Afghan invasion, US support for Israel, and foreigners in Muslim lands. “You hear the same buzz words, same manifesto, and same rhetoric…What you heard from Jihadists [in the past], you now hear from people on the street.”

Much of it is rooted in a perception of US hypocrisy. “US interests seem to override US principles and principle is central to our sales pitch,” commented Sciutto. Similar contradictions exist in the Middle East – “they have an admiration and desire for US culture and government,” he said, yet they dislike many things American. He named this as the main cause of the severe disappointment among many Afghanis and Iraqis.

Sciutto depicted Tehran as a city that was friendly to the west, “certainly more friendly to us than our allies in Egypt and Jordan.” He profiled a young man in Iran, Babak Zamanian, who was sentenced to time in prison after protesting Ahmadinejad at a rally, reportedly yelling “Death to the Dictator” and burning his picture. Zamanian said that our cause for winning the Iranian people’s hearts and minds is hurt by the constant talk of war.

Footage of the event can be viewed online at http://www.newamerica.net/events/2008/against_us

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