23 July 2004
Payoff for Public Diplomacy a Long-Term Proposition, Ereli Says
Deputy spokesman says public diplomacy efforts
U.S. public diplomacy efforts are a continuous activity and "not
something that you just turn on and off, " according to the deputy
State Department spokesman.
"We are always doing it," Adam Ereli told reporters at the Washington-based
Foreign Press Center July 22. But the question is how to carry
out effective public diplomacy campaigns, he said, and how to make
a difference in a marketplace of competing ideas.
The key is how to "do it in a way that's effective, that matches
resources," Ereli responded after a reporter suggested that the
concept of public diplomacy was not raised in the National Commission
on Terrorist Attacks Report issued July 22. Even though the report
was not couched in public-diplomacy terms, the deputy spokesman
noted that 9/11 Commissioner Lee Hamilton did say at a press conference
following the public release of the report that there must be "a
better dialogue between the West and the Islamic world."
Ereli also pointed to Hamilton's observation that the battle of
ideas that is under way in the world underscores the importance
of improving communications between those two worlds. This is,
he said, "synonymous with public diplomacy."
The deputy spokesman acknowledges that the twin attacks in New
York and Virginia on September 11, 2001, served as "a wakeup call
that we had a lot of work to do in combating the noxious influence
of extremist ideologies that have proven to be surprisingly attractive
to people who are committed to using violence to achieve their
The challenge of effective public diplomacy is "a constantly evolving
job," he said, that requires "reaching out, deciding what audiences
are you know [appropriate]: we need to hit the messages; work with
Measuring public-diplomacy effectiveness is "a long-term issue," according
to Ereli. "You don't judge public diplomacy's effectiveness in
the span of months or even years," he said. Instead, the deputy
spokesman said: "It's a long-term effort whose results you see
over the course of generations." It is also a long-term proposition "that
we are dedicated to, that we've never lost sight of," he added.
The events of September 11, 2001, have prompted a shift in focus
though, he said. "We have dedicated ourselves" to the proposition
of cultivating and encouraging "a culture of tolerance ... understanding
... mutual respect, and of freedom and opportunity," Ereli said.
It will take time "to see the fruits of that," the deputy spokesman
The commission addressed the issue of needing to confront, address
and remedy "the hopelessness and the despair that grips a lot of
youth in countries that traditionally supply the manpower for terrorist
organizations ... that undertake these kinds of very destructive
and uncivilized acts," Ereli said.
When asked about the diplomatic ramifications of the commission's
576-page report, the deputy spokesman said, "It's a little bit
early to say" what the implications are for foreign relations.
But he went on to say "that what you're likely to see is the continuation
of a very robust, international, diplomatic effort that focuses
on two things: taking the fight to the terrorists and pursuing
an aggressive posture to prevent additional attacks as well as
trying to ameliorate "some of the root causes of extremism" that
typically propel disenfranchised youth "to find solace in extremist
As an example, he pointed to G8 efforts through the Broader Middle
East Initiative to support nations that are trying to implement
Ereli also said the United States "will continue to be very active
in working with allies" such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to take
the fight to the terrorists, to deny them safe haven, to pursue,
and, ultimately, to capture them.
The deputy spokesman described the 9/11 report as "a very practical,
action-oriented document" that is neither polemical nor political.
The existence of the report, he said, provides insight into understanding
the United States because it highlights the importance of the process
of "examination, accountability and transparency" in American society
and government. He also pointed out that as the commission sought
to ascertain the facts surrounding the World Trade Center and Pentagon
attacks and to analyze thoroughly the actions that were taken (or
not) before drawing its final conclusions. And, Ereli said, the
commission's report is noteworthy because two separate administrations,
representing two different political parties, cooperated to bring
out the truth.
The process reveals a lot about the United States and the role
of American government, the deputy spokesman said, because it illustrates "how
government should be and can be answerable to its citizens for
decisions, for its actions and for its policies, regardless of
who's in charge."
The full text of the commission's report may be viewed on the
World Wide Web at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/serialset/creports/911.html