|New Strategic Direction
Urged for Public Diplomacy
Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy
October 1, 2003
In Report to Congress today, Djerejian
Advisory Group calls for new approaches in structure, resources
and programs to meet successfully the challenge to our national
security interests in the Arab and Muslim world.
The United States today lacks the capabilities in public diplomacy
to meet the national security threat emanating from political
instability, economic deprivation and extremism, especially
in the Arab and Muslim world," stated an advisory group mandated
by Congress in a report presented today to the House Appropriations
Committee. The group was told during its trip to the region
that if America does not define itself, the extremists will.
As a remedy, the group called for a new White House
office to manage strategic direction and government coordination
of public diplomacy - that is, the promotion of the national
interest by informing, engaging and influencing people around
the world. Public diplomacy, the group said, requires a "seriousness
and commitment that matches the gravity of our approach to national
defense and traditional state-to-state diplomacy."
The group praised the State Department, the lead
agency in public diplomacy, for its dedicated work with available
resources, but criticized what it called "a process of unilateral
disarmament in the weapons of advocacy over the last decade [that]
has contributed to widespread hostility toward Americans which
has left us vulnerable to lethal threats to our interests and
The report, titled "Changing Minds, Winning Peace," declared: "In
this time of peril, public diplomacy is absurdly and dangerously
underfunded, and simply restoring it to its Cold War status is
The bipartisan 13-member Advisory Group on Public
Diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim World was chaired by Edward
P. Djerejian, former U.S. ambassador to Syria and Israel under
Republican and Democratic presidents. Djerejian is currently
president of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy
at Rice University.
The group was formed in June after Congress became
concerned about growing animosity to the United States, especially
among Arabs and Muslims abroad.
The group acknowledged that "public diplomacy is only part of the
picture." Suveys show that Arabs and Muslims oppose U.S. policies,
especially those related to the Arab-Israeli conflict and Iraq.
But the group's mandate was strictly limited to public diplomacy,
which, the group argued, could help reduce the increasing hostility
that "makes achieving our policy goals far more difficult."
The Advisory Group traveled to Egypt, Syria, Senegal,
Morocco, Turkey, France and the United Kingdom,and had video
conferences in Indonesia and Pakistan to investigate the U.S.
public diplomacy programs toward the Arab and Muslim world. In
the end, it recommended a broad restructuring of America's global
public diplomacy programs. Some of the major recommendations
Under the proposed reorganization, a new White House
Special Counselor with Cabinet rank, backed by an advisory board
of experts, would provide strategic direction and coordination
of public diplomacy government-wide. Also, a high-level dormant
interagency policy coordinating group within the National Security
Council would be reactivated and revitalized. Specific proposals
to enhance the role of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy
and Public Affairs in the State Department are contained in the
The State Department would remain the lead agency
for enacting policy, and, along with other parts of government
that participate in public diplomacy - including the Defense
Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development and
government-sponsored international broadcasting - it would be
brought under the new strategic policy umbrella.
In addition, the report criticized the lack of testing
and measuring of public diplomacy programs and called for a "new
culture of measurement" in the State Department and elsewhere.
A similar finding is contained in a report by the U.S. General
Accounting Office on public diplomacy last month.
The report asked for a "dramatic increase in funding." It
found that funding for all public diplomacy programs amounted
to $600 million last year and that funding left for outreach
programs in the Arab and Muslim world was only $25 million. "To
say that financial resources are inadequate," said the report, "is
a gross understatement."
The report also raised serious concerns about the
deficiency in personnel who can speak the languages of the region.
For example, there is a small number of Arabic speakers in the
State Department - only 54 with a reasonable level of fluency
and only a handful of those able and willing to participate in
media discussions on Arab television and radio. The report calls
for 300 fluent Arabic speakers within two years and another 300
by 2008. "Often," said the report, "we are simply not present
for the debate."
The report also asked for an independent review of
the planned government-sponsored Middle East Television Network,
and it urged the Broadcasting Board of Governors to adopt a "clearer
objective than building a large audience" with its new, music-oriented
radio network in Arab countries, Radio Sawa.
Other specific recommendations for action are contained
in the report.The
members of the Advisory Group are: Amb. David M. Abshire, president
of the Center for the Study of the Presidency; Stephen M. Cohen,
Ph.D., national scholar for the Israeli Policy Forum; Amb. Diana
Lady Dougan, chair of the Cyber Century Forum; Mamoun Fandy, senior
fellow at the United States Institute of Peace; James K. Glassman,
senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute; Malik M. Hasan,
M.D., founder of Qual-Med and Health Trio, Inc. Also: Farhad Kazemi,
Ph.D., professor of politics and Middle Eastern studies at New York
University; Judith Milestone, former senior vice president at CNN;
Harold C. Pachios, former chairman of the U.S. Advisory Commission
on Public Diplomacy; George R. Salem, partner in the law firm Akin
Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP; Shibley Telhami, Ph.D., Anwar
Sadat Professor of Peace and Development at the University of Maryland;
John Zogby, president of Zogby International, the polling firm. In
addition, Christopher Ross, former U.S. ambassador to Syria, served
as consultant to the group, and Nina DeLorenzo was staff director.
obtain the report, please visit http://www.state.gov/r/adcompd