Report Seeks Engagement with Muslims by Diplomacy

September 23, 2008

Author: Laurie Goodstein

Source: The New York Times

After 18 months spent examining the deteriorating relations between the United States and the Muslim world during the Bush administration, a diverse group of American leaders will release a report in Washington on Wednesday calling for an overhaul of American strategy to reverse the spread of terrorism and extremism.

The report recommends more diplomatic engagement, even with Iran and other adversaries, and a major investment in economic development in Muslim countries to create jobs for alienated youth. It calls on the next president to use his Inaugural Address to signal a shift in approach, to immediately renounce the use of torture, and to appoint a special envoy within the first three months to jump-start negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

The report, “Changing Course: A New Direction for U.S. Relations with the Muslim World,”; was produced by 34 leaders drawn from religious, business, military, foreign policy, academic, foundation and nonprofit circles. The group included Democrats like Madeleine K. Albright, who was secretary of state under President Bill Clinton, and two former Republican congressmen, Vin Weber and Steve Bartlett.

It also included Thomas Dine, a former executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America. One-third of the group were Muslim Americans. The members were selected by the sponsoring organizations, Search for Common Ground and the Consensus Building Institute, which both promote nonviolent conflict resolution.