War on Terror needs more humanitarian efforts

Pentagon officials’ recently released counter-terrorism strategy acknowledged that "the American military's efforts to aid [2004] tsunami victims in Indonesia and to assist victims of Pakistan's [2005] earthquake did more to counter terrorist ideology than any attack mission."

Indeed, according to the Navy's commanding officer, Admiral Michael Mullen, the change of Muslim public opinion as a result of American aid is nothing less than "one of the defining moments of this new century."

The statements of our military's leaders point to a dramatic reconsideration of the means necessary to prevail against global terrorists.

For the first time since 9/11, both the Indonesian and Pakistani people - the largest and second-largest Muslim populations in the world - expressed a favorable opinion of the US, and at the same time, turned against support for Mr. bin Laden and terrorist attacks.

It is time we listen to our foremost military experts on what is truly required to win the war on terror. American humanitarian leadership is the proven path to winning Muslim hearts and minds. As the Navy's top officer Admiral Mullen said, "shame on us" if we fail to heed this message.

[Excerpt of an editorial by Kenneth Ballen, The Christian Science Monitor]

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