Magazine article The Christian Century

Hopes and Fears

Magazine article The Christian Century

Hopes and Fears

Article excerpt

With the terrorist attack that barely failed on a U.S. jetliner on Christmas Day and the opening of a new U.S. "front" against terrorist cells in Yemen, the year 2009 (and the decade of the "00s") came to a somber conclusion. The struggle against radical Islamic terrorists remains a long, twilight struggle. If they are realistic, Americans know that terrorists are likely to land some blows against them, no matter how sophisticated and coordinated the efforts of security agencies.

The events of year's end darkened some of the hope that President Obama sparked in June when he went to Cairo, Egypt, to seek "a new beginning" between the U.S. and Muslims around the world. Acknowledging failings on both sides, Obama insisted that America and Islam "need not be in competition" and that they share "common principles of justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings." This eloquent, dramatic gesture toward reconciliation was enough to earn Obama the year's Nobel Peace Prize--an award given for the hopes it engendered rather than any peace achieved. (The Cairo speech was also judged by the Religion Newswriters Association to be the top religion news story of the year. For more on the year in review, see p. 14.)

Obama himself recalibrated hopes in early December when he used his Nobel acceptance speech to offer a defense of U.S. military action. Military force remains a necessary instrument of justice in a world where evil exists, he maintained. …

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