Coincidentally, on the same day as a State Department official offered bringing European Muslims to the United States as a solution to the problem of their radicalism, MEMRI published the highly radical views of just such a Muslim who spends lots of time in the United States.
In testimony before Congress, State's assistant secretary for European affairs, Daniel Fried said this:
Many foreign policy professionals regard exchanges as our single most effective public diplomacy mechanism. These programs were, without doubt, one of our most potent tools during the Cold War, as Eastern European alumni frequently stress. Our two flagship exchange programs are the Fulbright academic exchange, which brings visiting students and scholars to the United States and sends Americans overseas for study and research, and the International Visitor Leadership Program, which brings emerging leaders to the United States for several weeks.
To which I reply: yes, such exchanges did work gloriously during the Cold War, but is there any suggestion that they are working in the war on terror? Indeed, is there not plenty of evidence to suggest that such exchanges are counterproductive, starting with Sayyid Qutb's disastrous stay in Greeley, Colorado in the late 1940s? Has it not been established that Islamists time and again find their way to extremism precisely through familiarity with the West, either educational or personal? (I argued this point at some length in a 1995 article, "The Western Mind of Radical Islam.") More broadly, a book that appeared in 2000, America in an Arab Mirror: Images of America in Arabic Travel Literature, An Anthology, shows the generally negative responses of Arabic speakers to their U.S. experiences.
For a very recent example, consider Zaghloul Al-Naggar, an Egyptian-born professor of geology who has spent a sabbatical year at U.C.L.A., is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, and is associate editor of the Ithaca, N.Y.-based Journal of Foraminiferal Research. MEMRI provides quotes from an interview with Al-Naggar on the Saudi station, Iqra' Television, on April 2, 2006, in which he stated, referring to America:
this false state has to be demolished, sooner or later. America will not remain the sole world power forever. Time will come when this superpower will be dissipated to nothing. And the signs for this dissipation is quite obvious, I can see it quite clearly.
As this case shows, to avoid making more Islamists, separation from America works better than exchanges with it. But don't expect State's bureaucrats to look objectively at the record anytime soon. (April 5, 2006)