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U.S. Sen. Kit Bond has co-authored a book about "Southeast Asia and the road to global peace with Islam" titled "The Next Front."
Co-authored with Pulitzer Prize winner Lewis Simons, the book really enlightened me on the Far East, Muslims, the Chinese influence, extremists, terrorism and what many leaders say about the United States and our strategies in their countries. Not a pretty picture, but certainly an interesting, sometimes shocking and informative book.
Almost daily one gains even more respect for Senator Bond as he has become a national spokesman on our country's internal security (including frequent TV appearances). Now a new dimension has been added by this book, which comments on Bond's numerous trips to the Far East and meetings with leaders from Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc.
The following is from the book's dust jacket, which gives a general summary of the context of "The Next Front."
"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 with -- and, more importantly, listen to presidents 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."
I've already bought some extra copies to give to people who are better acquainted with this area of the world than I for their comments.
Gary Rust is the chairman of Rust Communications.