is a self syndicated column. If you wish to publish this
column in your newspaper, magazine, journal or on your websites please
click here: Syndicate
Muqtedar Khan is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Adrian College
in Michigan. He is a Visiting Fellow at Brookings Institution and a Fellow
of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.
For a comprehensive resume click here: Resume
M. A. Muqtedar Khan
and Farid Senzai
The importance of American Muslims to an effective and more peaceful US foreign policy towards the Muslim World was once again underscored at a policy forum in Washington DC on January 28th, 2005. US government officials, foreign policy experts, Muslim scholars and activists gathered at a standing room only event on Friday afternoon to discuss the deteriorating nature of US-Muslim relations and to brain storm how things could be improved. The open and very candid forum once again showed the great unease that American Muslims have about the direction of US foreign policy. It also highlighted the enormous willingness of American Muslim citizens and mainstream organizations, several of whom were represented at the forum, to work with the US government to improve its policies and its relations towards the Muslim World.
The Muslim World Initiative of The United States Institute of Peace (USIP), an independent, non-partisan federal think tank, sponsored the forum titled “The Role of American Muslims in Bridging the U.S.-Muslim Divide”. There is an emerging consensus among policy makers that the American Muslim Community can play a pivotal role in improving the relationship between the United States and the Muslim World. The Brookings Institution’s US-Islamic World Project and the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding provided the initial impetus and idea for the event.
Dr. Abdeslam Maghraoui, Associate Director of Research of Studies for the Muslim World, at the United States Institute of Peace, hosted and facilitated the forum. Featured speakers included Dr. Fawaz Gerges of Sarah Lawrence College and a Fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding), Dr. Muqtedar Khan (Chair of International Affairs at Adrian College and a Non-resident Fellow at the Brookings Institution), Mr. Farid Senzai (Fellow and Director of Research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding) and Mr. Duncan McInnes (US State Department).
Part of the problem, he argued, was the lack of professional staff with the language and regional expertise for public diplomacy in Arab and Muslim societies. He concluded by pointing out that winning the “hearts and minds” of the Arab and Muslim world won’t be won by tricks and manipulation, but by honesty from a country that believes in its own values – and acts on them.
Mr. Duncan MacInnes outlined US government’s current public diplomacy effort and the need for greater communication between the various government agencies and the Muslim community in the United States.
He attributed the imbalance of power between various executive agencies, particularly the domination of the defense department on Foreign policy and intelligence issues, as the primary reason for failure of US diplomacy. He asserted that as long as the administration excluded Muslim input, and if Muslims did not actively provide it, US foreign policy in the Muslim World would remain misguided.
His most important point was that the bad US policy was not a function of ignorance but of a lack of political will. He pointed to several US government studies that had blamed US policies for bad US-Muslim relations and called for radical transformation of its policy approach, but the administration was not paying heed to its own findings.
forum continues from a previous conference held in December 2004
at the Brookings Institution, from which the American Muslim
Group for Policy Planning (AMGPP) emerged. The group seeks to
first bridge the gap between American Muslims and American
policymakers in order to facilitate better policies to bridge
the divide between the US and the Muslim World.
Muqtedar Khan [www.ijtihad.org] teaches at Adrian College
and is a Non-resident Fellow at the Brookings Institution. He is
the author of American Muslims: Bridging Faith and Freedom
(2002) and Jihad for Jerusalem: Identity and strategy in
International Relations (2004).
Related Article: American Muslims Push for Role in Policy Planning
Recent articles on IJTIHAD
This New York Times Op-Ed discusses how the American Muslim community is changing as a result of the changing condition in America.
"A rare moderate voice" Khaled Ahmed, Pakistan's prominent commentator and reviewer on American Muslims.
Muqtedar Khan Debates Dr. Daniel Pipes on Islam and Democracy