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Islamic Extremism and the War of Ideas by John Hughes

Length: 153 pages2 hours


Lessons from Indonesia


In the decade since United States Information Agency was dismantled and its remnants inserted into the Department of State, more than thirty major reports and studies have been issued recommending solutions to what is widely recognized as a major failing in post-cold war U.S. public diplomacy. In Islamic Extremism and the War of Ideas, John Hughes makes the case for a new and revitalized American public diplomacy effort.

Hughes examines lessons learned from the practice of public diplomacy—especially international broadcasting—in the cold war and tells how the United States could more effectively counter extremism, promote democracy, and improve understanding of itself in the Islamic world. He offers Indonesia as a successful example of the melding of democracy, Islam, and modernity and suggests that this country and other nations where Islam and democracy coexist—such as Turkey—could play a significant role in helping thwart Islamist extremism. He concludes that however democracy advances in the Arab world, and however its ultimate character differs from Jeffersonian democracy as Americans know it, the quest for freedom is noble and should remain the underlying premise of U.S. public diplomacy.

John Hughes is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for his coverage of Indonesia and the former editor of the Christian Science Monitor. He is currently a professor of international communications at Brigham Young University. He has served as the associate director of the United States Information Agency, the director of Voice of America, assistant secretary of state for public affairs, and State Department spokesman. He writes a nationally syndicated column for the Monitor.

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