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September 06, 2005



And this one would be "Abu Aardvark gets results from Karen Hughes (sort of)."

Michael Robinson

"I also had a series of recommendations for how the US should be talking on al-Jazeera: less lecturing, more listening; less spin and message control, more recognition of the reality of conflicting interests; less lashing out at 'disinformation' and more respectful hearings for reasoned arguments coming from the Arab world."

Yeah, and a pony.

We can't even get any of that in the White House breifing room:


On what conceivable basis do you envision it forthcoming for the Arab world?

the aardvark

"and a pony"

Dang, that's my line. Or at least Belle's line which I use as often as possible because it's such a killer.

Only reason to envision it forthcoming is simple pragmatism: the alternative is failed, and if you take the job seriously then you try something else. But I don't have especially high hopes that it actually *will* happen... the "truth squad" approach seems rather more likely.

John Penta

AA: Don't knock "truth squads" in general. They do have their place...as a small part of a broader media strategy.

You're right: On their own, they're worse than useless.

However, they can be very helpful in precisely the terms Hughes used: Rapid response to breaking events. A PR fire company, if you will.

That said, Public Diplomacy has always been an American failing; When one thinks about it, until 10-20 years ago, the idea of diplomacy focusing on anything other than other states would have been regarded as unusual at best.

So, is this the best we could possibly expect? No. Not even close.

But I'd say it's still a good first step.

Anna in Cairo

To John Penta, actually the "public diplomacy" part of the American foreign policy process started after WWII with people like Edward R. Murrow and went *back* to being focused on states and elites during the Reagan admin. The broad-based public-focused programs like libraries and large exchange programs and vibrant cultural centers were things that worked over the long term. Also the early public diplomacy initiatives did not try to whitewash the US but tried to show it hwo it really was (Edward R. Murrow used to say "warts and all") while since the Reagan Admin it became straight lying PR sort of like what the tobacco industry does (See, the Kuwaiti baby incubator thing for e.g.) (I worked for USIA in the mid-90s, mostly in the Arab world.)

John Penta

Kuwaiti baby incubator thing?

Um, if it's from 1991...I was 6 during the Gulf War.

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