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New Strategic Direction Urged for Public Diplomacy

Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy
Press Release
Washington, DC
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 our safety."

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 not enough."

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 follow:

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 report.

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.

To obtain the report, please visit http://www.state.gov/r/adcompd