For years, I've heard Jim Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute say the following about the Middle East:
"Since the end of the Vietnam War in the early 1970s, the United States has been more deeply enmeshed and invested in this region than anywhere else. During this nearly forty-year period, Americans have spent more money, sold more weapons, devoted more political capital, sent more troops, fought more wars, and lost more lives in the Middle East than in any other part of the world."
Surely, such a commitment of blood and treasure deserves an open and honest debate in America about our official policies in the region and about the way that we as citizens see the region and the people who live there. Jim Zogby is helping to spark that debate with a new book called Arab Voices: What They Are Saying to Us and Why It Matters.
The book is a mix of Jim's personal observations from more than 35 years of working on issues related to the Arab world and public opinion research conducted by Zogby International (ZI). As an Arab American, I'm proud that Jim's book is ranking number two on Amazon today for books on the Middle East and on international relations. I'm proud because Jim is a leader in our community and I'm proud because this is a book that will help improve our nation's understanding of this important region of the world.
The latter is crucial because as Jim talks about in the book, many Americans don't know basic facts about the Arab world and misinformation allows for misunderstandings to flourish. For example, in the book Jim addresses five myths about the region, each of which in different ways have contributed to foreign policy failures like Iraq.
I look forward to the debate this book will initiate and its already started on Jim's book tour. Jim's currently on the West Coast and has been encountering some pretty tough questions on radio talk shows. He's working hard to help people understand that Arabs don't hate us. The more he can break down that myth, the more we can begin to listen to Arab voices and only then can a conversation begin. That is why this is such an important book.