The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the authors’ alone. Libyan theologian Aref Ali Nayed is a senior advisor to the Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme and a leading signatory of A Common Word.
By Aref Ali Nayed
Being held in the early days of the Obama presidency, this year’s U.S.-Muslim World Forum in Doha last weekend was particularly luminescent with rays of hope. One was the very fact that its host, the influential Brookings Institution think-tank, invited faith leaders to discuss how to improve the dreadful state of relations between Washington and the Muslim world. The basis for discussion was A Common Word, an appeal by 138 Muslim scholars to Christian leaders to join in a dialogue based on the shared commandments to love God and love one’s neighbor.
That a theological and spiritual initiative is of keen interest to policy planners is indeed a fresh ray of light. Basking in that hopeful light, moreover, I had the rare privilege for a Muslim theologian of listening to the U.S. CentCom Commander General David Petraeus expound there on a “network of networks” that constituted a “security architecture” for our Middle East region. (Photo: General David Petraeus addresses the U.S.-Muslim World Forum, 14 Feb 2009/Osama Faisal)
General Petraeus argued that security can only be achieved through a multi-layered and multi-faceted network of networks that involved training, tooling and equipping, information sharing, and infrastructure building.
I very much liked the talk of a network of networks and indeed agreed with the need for training, tooling, information sharing and infrastructure building. Alas, I had to keep reminding myself, while looking at the elegantly uniformed speaker, that it is a military network of networks that he was advocating and that all those nice-sounding activities pertained to matters military. It turned out that I very much liked the structure of what General Petraeus was proposing, but definitely not its content!