The War on Terror involves more than military or intelligence, it involves winning the ideological struggle. Not there, but here.
I once wrote about the way an elementary school teacher in Afghanistan discusses political science and history. The teacher holds up a wealth pie chart, showing that America controls this huge slice of the pie, leaving a tiny sliver for the Afghans. The teacher's point? Afghans suffer poverty because of America's disproportionate wealth.
Recently, an American public school teacher at Fratney Street School in Milwaukee wanted to show his kids how to understand the mind of a terrorist. The teacher says he doesn't "blame America," but he wanted to demonstrate to his students that overpopulation and poverty conspire to make easy recruits. He asked his fifth-grade students to stand, and he arranged them by population, on top of a huge floor world map. He then handed out cookies according to the countries' gross national product. Students in Asia, for example, received one cookie to share among 16. Three in Africa split a half cookie among them. But in North America, one kid received eight cookies.
Let's call this the Exploitation Theory: America enriches herself at the expense of other countries. America takes; others receive less. But for America's dominant, evil culture, and her extraction of wealth from others, the rest of the world could live in prosperity and happiness. America's wealth causes poverty in other countries. We win. They lose.
But the United Nations' Arab Human Development Report, written by Arab political scientists and scholars, came to a different conclusion. The scholars wrote about the comparative backward nature of 22 Arab states, covering nearly 300 million people. The Arab countries scored the lowest of all world regions as to freedom, the political process, civil liberties, political rights and media independence. The report found 65 million illiterate adults. Half of Arab women still cannot read or write. Ten million children between 6 and 15 years of age are out of school. The report describes a "severe shortage" of new writing. In the last 1,000 years, the Arabs have translated as many books as Spain translates in just one year. Only 1.2 percent of the population uses a computer, and only half of those access the Internet.
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