No one has anatomized the misadventures of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq with greater historical perspective or critical acuity than Andrew Bacevich. He is among our indispensable intellectuals, all the more so now that the cartoonish figure of George W. Bush has been removed from the equation.
I travel to the Middle East at least once each year, often visiting
multiple countries. I belong to an evangelical-Muslim discussion group
which meets annually, and the participants include pious, brilliant,
generous Muslim scholars whom I count as my friends. When a topic like
"Islamophobic America" comes up, I share intense personal e-mails with
them. But I came away from my trip to the Middle East this past summer with some new concerns.
In September 2010, four gay children died from bullying. Children are
being bullied, tormented and abused for many different reasons, and
there is a distinct upswing on bullying in our schools. Please take
this to prayer with me.
European countries are asking how to deal with hundreds of young Muslims who went to Syria to fight and then returned home. Denmark is experimenting with rehabilitation rather than incarceration. Returning fighters are treated not as criminals but as troubled youth who lost their way and need a second chance. The program, first used with neo-Nazi youth, is voluntary and includes counseling, mentoring, opportunities for more schooling, and meetings with parents. So far the program seems to be working. Denmark has the second highest number of foreign fighters per capita. They “only become ticking bombs if we don’t integrate them” back into society, said a Danish psychologist (New York Times, December 13).