Dropping in and (Hopefully) Listening

Dropping in and (Hopefully) Listening

Monday’s visit to this country by President George W. Bush following the APEC summit in Vietnam comes at a pivotal point between Muslim nations and the West, at a time when perceived feelings on both sides of the yawning divide have never been so polarized.

      So it is all the more important, and timely, that President Bush opted to visit President Bambang Yudhoyono, head of the world’s most populous Muslim country, where the vast majority of the 19.8 or so million who follow Islam do so in a moderate, tolerant fashion.

      In Yudhoyono, Bush – doubtless glad of the Asian reprieve after the political bloodletting of last week that saw his Republican Party lose control of both houses of congress after sweeping midterm-election defeats, chiefly due to widespread voter dissatisfaction over the seemingly unstoppable war in Iraq – has a firm ally, yet one not shy of voicing criticism, and offering constructive advice, over global events with an American connection.

      Both countries have had much in common in recent years, being struck by deadly terrorism and going all out to wipe out the rising tide of militancy. Therefore, we hope the American president will listen to his counterpart when it comes to Muslim sensitivities over the US policies around the world, nowhere more so than in the ever-fractious Middle East, which with Iran’s stepped-up nuclear drumbeat shows every sign of spiraling out of control.

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The Bali Times