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June 5th, 2009
01:45 PM ET

Youth in the Middle East

Jared Cohen, one of the youngest members of the U.S. State Department's Policy Planning Team and the author of "Children of Jihad," believes the under-30 generation in the Islamic world is the best hope for peace, as young people make up 60% in the region.  "Young people in the Arab and Muslim worlds shouldn't be looked at as a threat, they should be looked at as an opportunity," Cohen says.  Tony Harris and Nicole Lapin spoke to him to find out we can do just that.

Cohen is currently working on the "Text Swat" program at the State Department.  It's part of his push to get young people engaged through technology.

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Filed under: Nicole Lapin • On TV • Tony Harris
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. J. Cooper

    I resent "all" you Anchor personnel, and Radio host, referring to our
    President as BARACK OBAMA, or Mr. Obama.
    Give our President his respect, as you did President Bush,
    President Reagan, President Clinton and refer to our President
    as President Obama.

    June 5, 2009 at 2:45 pm |
  2. David

    This was a very interesting item. One of the greatest weaknesses of Americans is their isolation from people in other countries which leads them to substitute real understanding of other people with mindless stereotypes. Perhaps Lou Dobbs could listen to this clip.
    I have lived in a number of different countries throughout my life when I was younger, and the biggest lesson I learned was that the vast majority of people everywhere are fundamentally the same. They mostly want what is best for themselves and their families. They will generously help other people who are in need. They try to live decent lives and are basically good people. The tend to be over trusting of authority and they can be manipulated by the media and the oratory of unscrupulous politicians and others. Just like Americans, if they don't get a chance to meet real people from other countries , they can begin to substitute knowledge with carefully manipulated stereotypes.
    The more people travel and meet people from other countries and talk to them, they more they will see the postive side of humanity and this is true not just of young people, but young people are generally more open minded than older adults.

    June 5, 2009 at 3:42 pm |
  3. Andy

    Young people in Islamic countries are certainly the best hope for peace, but so often they have been heavily indoctrinated by their media, their textbooks (see recent video on CNN with a congressman showing that current Saudi textbooks teach 15 year-olds to kill Jews), their religious leaders, and their prevailing sense of demanding equal power (nearly all young Iranians want their country to have a nuke) that it is too late to make more than a superficial connection.

    It is very tempting to take a wide-eyed innocent hopeful approach (for which the sweet and beautiful Nicole is a great spokesperson), but unless we are prepared to see the full depth and extent of the problem, we will never be able to solve it.

    The Islamic countries today are in the same place as Christian Europe was in the middle ages, where religious authority could not be criticized for fear of death.

    I personally believe that the first real sign of a glimmer of hope will be when a Muslim can freely criticize the Koran in his or her home country, like people criticize the Bible here. Until that point is reached, there is absolutely no chance of real peaceful co-existence.

    Nicole, you should do all of these things because you are so intelligent: read the Wikipedia article on "Criticism of Islam" and follow all the links to the major websites referenced, such as,, (see if you can find any false statements on these sites about Islam, you won't find any), watch the movie "Islam: What the West Needs to Know" available free on Google video, hear what Wafa Sultan says about Islam on YouTube, read Robert Spencer, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq, Salman Rushdie, etc. These are the most courageous people on the earth today because they are living their entire lives under the constant threat of assassination in an effort to bring out the truth. (Even the suicide bombers don't suffer as much, because their deaths occur instantaneously.)

    in my opinion, "nice guys" who make knowingly false statements about Islam in an effort to look open-minded are not worthy of respect. They are defiling the real honor of these courageous people. (It is not possible to honestly interpret the meanings of Islamic scriptures to produce the conclusions being drawn by politicians and the mainstream media.)

    NIcole, what do you think? I know I'm throwing a tough one at you. Send me an e-mail if you want. I don't know if CNN will be willing to post this. The NY Times has begun accepting such comments in the last few months.

    June 5, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  4. Tomasz


    "See the people in the Middle East can be just as secular as you and I."

    What about people from the Middle East coming here and seeing "They can be just as humble, modest and conservative as us."

    People in the Middle East have to change, but Americans can be whatever they want to be, regardless of right and wrong.

    June 8, 2009 at 12:19 pm |
  5. Phyllis Neal

    I am a veteran and the VA system here in New Mexico is deplorable. If a veteran needs anything more than a simple blood test they, including me have to drive to Albuquerque. For me that is a 6 hour drive; for others it is a longer drive. When I lived in Arizona the VA Clinic was on one side of the street and the hospital on the other side of the street. All we had to do was to walk across the street to get any kind of treatment we needed. Here the VA had a contract with the hospital but it was not renewed because the VA did not use the hospital's services enough. This is intolorable! I blame the Director of the VA in Albuquerque. We need help and a director who cares. We also need a President who cares about us. It is not real reassuring to know that we are only worth a $250.00 when we are the people who keep America a free country.

    June 16, 2009 at 2:27 pm |

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