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The unrest and violence that has erupted in more than a dozen countries across North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia has refocused Americans’ attention on two different but not disconnected historical movements in the Muslim world. The first is the campaign of terror launched by Osama bin Laden and an alliance of militant Islamic warriors who have sought to expel the West from Muslim lands, oust pro-Western dictators and unify those lands as a single Islamic nation for over 15 years. This movement, initially supported by America and its allies when it was used to dislodge the Soviet Union from Afghanistan in the 1980s, metastasized into the Al Qaeda terror groups that eventually attacked the United States on 9/11. The toll in American blood and treasure has been over 10,000 lives and trillions of dollars in damages and the cost of U.S. led wars.

WOW is right! The 12th Window on the World, Tennessee Tech’s annual global awareness festival that celebrates, at once, international unity and diversity was center stage on campus this weekend. The Roaden University Center, festooned with scores of country flags that symbolize the origins of many Tech students and faculty, was filled with hundreds of people working and thousands of people visiting the music and dance performances, art displays, shopping kiosks, food courts, children’s activities, and country table displays. The atmosphere, as always, was electric as people moved about to take it all in – to enjoy it all and to learn something about every corner of the world.

Foreign Policy and War On The Fly

March 26, 2011

The tide of revolt that has swept the Arab World in the last two months has been stunning in scope, intensity and importance. From the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf autocratic regimes have been shaken and some have fallen in an historic reformation of how Arab countries will manage their affairs. This transformation, dubbed an “Arab Spring,” has also stunned foreign policy making institutions in the United States as America’s values and interests are increasingly at odds with each other.

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At the Tipping Point in the Arab World

January 29, 2011

The throngs of Egyptians who have taken to the streets in the Arab world’s most populous country are shaking the foundations of regimes across North Africa and the Middle East with scant hope America will emerge from this new crisis with a winning hand, much less breaking even.

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America’s Global Indifference and Looming Challenges

January 8, 2011

Indifference to global developments is not a new phenomenon in America’s public life. In recounting the story of the Council on Foreign Relations, Colorado College political scientist David Hendrickson, writing in “Foreign Affairs,” noted the relative ignorance among officials and the public about the world. Of the former he said the U.S. State Department, in the wake of World War I, lacked the “detailed knowledge of European conditions that would be required for redrawing, as fairly as could be done, the map of the world.” Of the citizenry of the day, he said “American domestic opinion was returning with a vengeance, to the insular habits that had long characterized it,” citing as evidence the “Philadelphia Record’s” comment in 1928 that, “The American people don’t give a hoot in a rainbarrel who controls north China.”

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Political Pandering Column Postscript

August 8, 2010

This week I wrote about politicians’ pandering to voters over possible fears of Islam — opposing mosques and Islamic community centers in Tennessee and New York City. It is a hot topic and the controversies continue even though the primary elections talked about in the column are over. Today on CNN’s show “Fareed Zakaria: GPS” […]

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Not on the Cover of the Rolling Stone

June 26, 2010

The newest addition to the seemingly unending collection of stories that you just can’t make up is the strange case of General Stanley McChrystal, who until this week was the top military man in Afghanistan directing American and NATO combat forces. The general handed his commander in chief a resignation on Wednesday after the public airing of disparaging comments aimed at American civilian leaders. But there is the unanswered question of why he joined a fight he was sure to lose, and a particularly strange part of the story is the battlefield he chose for the losing campaign. Rolling Stone.

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Memo to Fox Postscript

June 1, 2010

Thanks to everyone who sent feedback about this week’s column, “Memo to Glenn Beck and Fox News Media Mogul Rupert Murdoch.” In it I mentioned that President Obama was giving Memorial Day remarks at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Illinois after Mr. Beck and others on Fox News (and elsewhere) asserted that President Obama was skipping the Arlington National Cemetery observance at the Tomb of the Unknowns in favor of a “vacation.” [Click on this post title to see the video.]

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Memo to Glenn Beck and Fox News Media Mogul Rupert Murdoch

May 29, 2010

As one of the many Americans who value the real Memorial Day as a very special occasion and who is a regular visitor to family and friends whose address is Arlington Cemetery, it is offensive that the disturbing trend of divisive dialogue in our country’s political life has punctured what should be an off-limits zone. Fox News, keep your hands off our Memorial Day. We want it back.

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Generosity and Misperceptions in Meeting Needs Abroad

April 23, 2010

We Americans consider ourselves to be among the most generous people on the planet and when it comes to individual charitable giving that appears to be the case. Americans give three and one-half times more per capita than the French, seven times more than the Germans and 14 times more than the Italians, according to a television news magazine story by John Stossel. When asked about Americans’ giving in response to the Haiti earthquake in January, Cass Wheeler, who knows something about raising money as former CEO of the American Heart Association, said, “When you think about this country, the spirit of volunteering time and making contributions is really a part of our fabric.”

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