President Bush has repeatedly stated that America does not hate Muslims, it just hates extremists. Unfortunately those words are now falling on deaf ears in much of the Muslim world. With anti-American sentiment dangerously up, we are in dire need of some good will, based on action rather then words.
Here's an idea for President Bush that could help change our perception in the Muslim world. It doesn't involve Iraq, Afghanistan or the Middle East, so it's not a political hot potato. It doesn't get in the way of America's "war on terror" so President Bush can support it without fear of reprisal from his own party. And because Democrats and Republicans would most likely support it together, it is an idea for hearts and minds that is actually achievable.
America should lead the capture of the man responsible for the murder of more Muslims than anyone in modern history -- the most wanted war criminal in the world, Radovan Karadzic.
Karadzic was President of Bosnia during the war there from 1992-95. During his years in power (according to the indictment by the Hague) he was complicit in the rape and murder of thousands of innocent Muslims. He is accused of acts of genocide as part of a campaign to terrorize the population. There is a five million dollar bounty on his head and yet, America, and the world, have not caught him.
Bosnia is tiny. The size of Kentucky. Karadzic has been spotted in public places such as restaurants that tour books write about. He has been on the run with practically no one after him for over a decade. So un-pursued has Karadzic been, that during the past few years he has published two books and a play. Perhaps the international community thinks they're going to catch him by opening up a summer stock theater, since clearly the normal method is not working. Why?
There are many theories on why Karadzic has not been caught. Conspiracy theories abound in the Balkans. Some say that Serbia is hiding him. Or Russia. Some darker scenarios have it that the Americans made a secret deal with Karadzic that if he stepped down from power (thus ending the war), we would not go after him for war crimes. Some say the French and British don't want him caught because he would reveal the secret deals he made with them during the war (including the removal of the UN from Srebrenica before the genocide there). As out there as some of these ideas are, many are considered possible for the simple reason that Radovan Karadzic, Hague-indicted war criminal, is still completely free, thumbing his nose at the world.
With the threatened deadline of the closing of the Hague tribunal on war crimes in Bosnia fast approaching, the time for action is now. With a renewed desire from President Bush, most believe Karadzic can be finally apprehended. America, which under President Clinton led the effort to end the war in Bosnia, could now bring the most famous and wanted war criminal from that bloody conflict to justice, and in doing so earn some much needed good will from the Muslim street.
Imagine if America captured the man whose evil deeds against Bosnian Muslims the term "ethnic cleansing" was coined for. The radicals, jihadists and even moderates who are leaning towards hate would have to take pause. Their theory that we declare war on terrorism but only go after Muslims, would be neutered. The idea that America sides only with those that are against Islam would be proved wrong. The belief that America does not care about Muslims unless it has to do with oil or politics would be challenged.
In the extremely important fight for the hearts and minds of the Muslim world, bringing Radovan Karadzic to justice would show we don't hate Muslims with dramatic actions, instead of just words.