04 February 2004
Tutwiler Says U.S. Public Diplomacy Must Engage Youth
Head of public diplomacy at State Department briefs
U.S. public diplomacy efforts must reach beyond the traditional
audience of elites and government officials, says Under Secretary
of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Margaret Tutwiler.
Testifying at a House Subcommittee on Appropriations hearing February
4 on fiscal year 2005 appropriations for public diplomacy, Tutwiler
outlined numerous State Department programs to inform, engage and
influence foreign publics. She called for an expansion of education
exchange and other programs that reach younger audiences, particularly
in the Arab and Muslim world.
Discussing U.S. government efforts to advocate its policies and
explain its actions, Tutwiler said "Audiences may not agree or
like what we say and do, but we are communicating our policies
to governments and influential elites, including in the foreign
"Our senior officials, ambassadors and embassy staff are out there
explaining U.S. policy, goals and initiatives," she said.
"Where we have not placed enough effort and focus is with the
non-elites who, today much more so than in the past, are a very
strong force within their countries," added Tutwiler. "This must
be a priority focus now and in the future."
The under secretary said that in 2003 the State Department sponsored
30,000 academic, professional and other exchanges worldwide and
facilitated nearly 500 interviews and press conferences with senior
State Department officials for foreign media outlets. Since September
11, 2001, the department has organized over one thousand digital
video conferences between U.S. officials and experts and foreign
audiences, she added.
The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs' (ECA) Partnerships
for Learning initiative, she said, seeks to extend U.S. government-funded
exchange programs to undergraduate college students and also high
school students, and currently 170 high school students from predominantly
Islamic countries are living with American families and studying
at local high schools. In 2004, another 450 high school students
from the Middle East and South Asia will come to the United States
for the next academic year, she said.
"We must engage, listen and interact -- especially with the young," said
Tutwiler. "They are the key to a future peaceful world."
Tutwiler said that 25 percent of ECA's funding for exchanges will
go to programs in the Middle East and South Asia in 2004, compared
to 17 percent in 2002.
"We all know that our public diplomacy programs, those I have
mentioned and others, must advance our national interests and do
a better job of explaining not only our policies, but also who
we are as a people," said Tutwiler.
"Every American ... has to make an extra effort to communicate,
listen, and engage with not only our traditional audiences, but
to audiences to whom we previously have not given as much effort
and time," she said.
"I am realistically optimistic that we can achieve over time a
better, healthier and much more accurate impression of our nation
Following is the text of Tutwiler's prepared remarks:
U.S. Department of State
February 4, 2004
Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs
Margaret DeB. Tutwiler
Testimony before House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce,
Justice, State and the Judiciary
Chairman Wolf, Congressman Serrano and members of the subcommittee,
thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. Your
interest and commitment to public diplomacy is greatly appreciated
and I look forward to working with this subcommittee.
In less than two months that I have been serving as the Under
Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs I have gained
a much better sense and appreciation of what the Under Secretary's
office, as well as our three bureaus, the public diplomacy offices
of the regional bureaus and our overseas posts do in the field
of public diplomacy.
Over the last two years, much has been written and debated about
the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the U.S. Government's public
diplomacy activities and programs overseas. Helpful and responsible
reports by Ambassador Ed Djerejian's Advisory Group, the Council
on Foreign Relations, the Heritage Foundation, and the Center for
the Study of the Presidency, have served to help us examine that
which our government does well and that which can be improved.
Many of their insights and recommendations we can all agree upon.
As we all know, unfortunately our country has a problem in far
too many parts of the world today -- a problem we have regrettably
developed over many years through both Republican and Democratic
administrations, and a problem that does not lend itself to a quick
fix or a single solution. Just as it has taken us many years to
get into this situation, so too will it take many years of hard
focused work to get out of it.
We need to continue to focus on those areas of the world where
there has been a deterioration of the view of our nation and, at
the same time, work equally as hard in those areas where the opinion
of the United States has not changed to date.
We need to support those programs and activities that go to the
bottom line of halting and reversing this deterioration. We need
to constantly ask ourselves, "Is this activity or program still
effective in today's world?" If it is, we should keep it. If it
is judged to no longer contribute, then we should let it go.
We should listen more, not only to foreign audiences, but to our
own personnel overseas. We will shortly be able to communicate
and share new ideas amongst ourselves and across all regions through
a new interactive website.
I believe we basically do a good job of advocating our policies
and explaining our actions. Audiences may not agree or like what
we say and do, but we are communicating our policies to governments
and influential elites, including in the foreign media. Our senior
officials, Ambassadors and embassy staff are out there explaining
U.S. policy, goals and initiatives. However, we can all do better.
In addition, we must do a better job of reaching beyond the traditional
elites and government officials. Where we have not placed enough
effort and focus is with the non-elites who, today much more so
than in the past, are a very strong force within their countries.
This must be a priority focus now and in the future. We only have
to look at the outreach activities of many U.S. corporations overseas
to see the value of being present and engaged in neighborhoods
that we in government have for too long neglected.
We must continue pursuing new initiatives and improving older
ones in the hopes of reaching younger, broader and deeper audiences.
The Bureau of Public Affairs worked with our Embassy in Jakarta
to broadcast this year's State of the Union Address live, with
simultaneous interpretation in Bahasa Indonesian. One national
radio station carried the entire broadcast live, reaching millions
in this predominately Muslim nation.
In China, growing numbers of media outlets, including official
government media, are carrying material distributed via the International
Information Bureau's Chinese-language website and embassy information
I believe we can all agree that programs that bring Americans
and foreigners together, whether in person or even in a video or
press conference, create greater understanding. Last year, the
State Department directly sponsored over 30,000 academic, professional
and other exchanges worldwide.
Since 9/11, we have organized over a thousand digital video conferences
between American officials and experts and foreign audiences. In
the past year, we facilitated nearly 500 interviews and press conferences
with senior officials from the Department of State for foreign
As Under Secretary, I would like to see us expand our exchange
programs however we can. Exchange programs constitute the single
largest part of the State Department public diplomacy budget, $316,633,000
in FY-2004, which regrettably is $28,713,000 less than the President's
request including a rescission of $3,367,000. Within this amount,
we must set priorities.
Through our School Internet Connectivity Program, 26,000 high
school students from the Middle East, South Asia, South East Europe,
Central Asia and the Caucasus currently collaborate in online projects
on current affairs, entrepreneurship, health, and civic responsibility
with U.S. students.
Expanding the circle of opportunity is the concept behind Partnerships
for Learning (P4L), an initiative of the Bureau of Educational
and Cultural Affairs (ECA), which seeks to extend our exchange
programs to undergraduate college students and also high school
students. P4L has initiated our first high school exchange program
with the Arab and Muslim world. Today, 170 high school students
from predominantly Islamic countries are living with American families
and studying at local high schools. Another 450 high school students
from the Middle East and South Asia will come here in 2004 for
the next academic year. In addition, seventy undergraduate students,
men and women, from North Africa and the Middle East will come
to the U.S. beginning next month for intensive English language
training prior to their enrollment in university degree programs.
These are the kinds of initiatives I believe we should be pursuing.
A new initiative which I am exploring is the idea of micro-scholarships
for English learning and to attend our American Schools overseas.
The U.S. has been incredibly successful with micro-credits for
entrepreneurs and small businesses. Why not take that same concept
and apply it to education and English language learning?
However we do it, we must engage, listen and interact -- especially
with the young. They are the key to a future peaceful world.
Reaching out to the Arab and Muslim world is a top priority. With
regard to exchanges, 25% of ECA's funding will go to programs in
the Middle East and South Asia in FY 2004, compared to 17% in FY
2002. We have restarted the Fulbright program in Afghanistan after
a twenty-five year hiatus. Twenty Afghan Fulbrighters will arrive
next month. Just a few days ago, twenty-five Iraqi Fulbright students
arrived here for orientation prior to beginning their regular studies.
Of course, the Muslim world extends beyond the Middle East and
South Asia. We are mindful that programs in Africa, East Asia and
Eurasia are also priorities in this context. In addition to the
Arab and Muslim world and reaching out to young audiences, some
of the program priorities we hope to pursue include many recommended
by Ambassador Ed Djerejian and others.
For example, we are taking steps to improve interagency coordination.
The new State-USAID Joint Policy Council and State-USAID Management
Council is intended to improve program coordination in public diplomacy,
as in other areas, and help ensure the most effective use of program
resources at the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Regrettably, all too often, our important and meaningful assistance
to developing countries is going unnoticed and unappreciated, while
other nations' assistance to these same countries is widely known
and appreciated. This must change. Government-wide, we have to
do a much better job of insuring the U.S.'s efforts are widely
known well beyond the foreign government officials. We can no longer
afford for recipients overseas to have no idea that the people
of the United States provide assistance to their country.
Another program which holds promise is American Corners. In recent
years we have had good results from our American Corners program
which as you know are partnerships between our embassies and local
institutions like libraries, universities and chambers of commerce.
These corners are a source for information outreach at the grassroots
The Bureau of International Information Programs is working with
Near Eastern Affairs and South Asia bureaus to establish forty-three
more American Corners in those regions, including ten in Afghanistan
and fifteen in Iraq in FY 2005. We currently have more than 100
American Corners around the world. In FY04, we are planning on
opening 194 more in 64 countries. Of these 194, we will establish
58 in the Middle East and South Asia, including ten in Afghanistan
and fifteen in Iraq.
Virtual consulates, targeted web-based outreach to cities where
we lack an actual presence, may also offer a powerful tool for
reaching wide audiences with general information about the United
States, as well as specific information about commercial, visa
and other issues. Virtual consulates can also provide links between
foreigners and counterparts in the U.S. with whom they might want
to do business.
English teaching: To strengthen English teaching programs, ECA
is devoting an additional $1,573,000 to these programs, creating
five new Regional English Language Officer positions in FY 2005,
bringing the total to twenty. This is not enough, but it is a start.
Whether through direct teaching or training instructors, English
language programs offer great scope for advancing public diplomacy
objectives. For example, over the past five years, Embassy Damascus
estimates that it has trained over 9,000 of Syria's 12,000 English-language
teachers, a terrific example of outreach to the successor generation
Book Programs: The Department has developed "book sets" about
American history, culture and values for younger audiences around
the world. Embassies donate the "book sets" to local libraries
and primary/secondary schools. As of September 2003, embassies
worldwide had distributed over $400,000 worth of book sets. We
are examining our overseas book buys and journal publications as
Private sector cooperation: I have created a new unit in my office
to explore ways to draw on the expertise of the private sector
to advance our public sector objectives. We can expand public-private
partnerships, initially focusing on key industries such as technology,
health care and education. There is much more we can do in the
field of sports and the arts and I intend to pursue this.
Through ECA's new Culture Connect program, America's cultural
leadership directly communicates with elite and non-elite foreign
youth about our country and values. We currently have ten Culture
Connect Ambassadors, and we are going to expand the program this
Television offers a powerful tool for public diplomacy and public
affairs. We are using co-operative programming with local broadcasters
and exploiting new distribution channels and technologies to create
a fuller, more accurate picture of the U.S. for general audiences
abroad. Over the past two years, we have funded several hundred
journalist tours for broadcast and print media overseas, more than
half of which have been in Muslim majority countries. We intend
to increase these types of journalist tours.
In closing, Mr. Chairman, let me say again that we all know that
there is much work to be done. We all know that our public diplomacy
programs, those I have mentioned and others, must advance our national
interests and do a better job of explaining not only our policies,
but also who we are as a people.
In a world of finite funding, we must ensure that our public diplomacy
resources are used as effectively as possible. We must prioritize
and ask ourselves, "Is the activity I am doing getting the job
done?" We must listen to our field force. Today the State Dept
has approximately 1,200 employees working in the field of public
diplomacy. I maintain that every American, regardless of Agency
or Department, has to make an extra effort to communicate, listen,
and engage with not only our traditional audiences, but to audiences
to whom we previously have not given as much effort and time. We
must move beyond the walls of our Embassy's overseas and foreign
I am realistically optimistic that we can achieve over time a
better, healthier and much more accurate impression of our nation
and people. No one, most especially myself, underestimates the
challenge and the difficult task at hand. The public diplomacy
officials I work with are reaching, questioning and searching for
more effective ways to enunciate our policies and have our values
understood. We will continue to make some mistakes but I truly
believe we will ultimately get there. We have no choice. We must.
Thank you -- I will be happy to take your questions.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs,
U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)