DAVID MOREY: I remind you that the meeting is on the record. I'm David Morey. It's a pleasure to be here.
Post-9/11 and at the beginning at the administration's war on terrorism in 2003, Leslie Gelb convened and Pete Peterson chaired a task force -- a Council on Foreign Relations task force on public diplomacy, producing this report: "Finding America's Voice." Its viewpoints were echoed by a series -- a long series of commissions and reports arguing that the Information Revolution has created so many changes, so many new rules in terms of public diplomacy, and changes in international relations and national security mandates a new approach to public diplomacy; that is, it's not in a state of crisis, it's in a state of fundamental disrepair, a viewpoint that even today seemingly unites nearly all parts or all parts of the political spectrum.
The Council on Foreign Relations report argued that public diplomacy needs to be further prioritized; needs to be revolutionized, that is, reinvigorated and rethought and refocused; and even privatized. And it's on that third point that we're here today in the sense that privatization, the council report argued in general terms, could bring new energy, new leadership, new ideas into the mix. And because the council's job is to recommend and encourage and even inspire -- we don't actually do anything in terms of execution -- these gentlemen have actually gone off and done something in this regard, and they will talk to you about that today. They've taken their own focus and model and initiative.
I will allow each speaker -- I'll be undiplomatic and brief in the introduction because you have it all in your packet -- to take five minutes and lay out the case for The Foundation for International Understanding, and then I'll take a few shots at questions and then we'll turn it to all of you to do a better job at asking questions of these folks.
To my right, Dr. David Abshire is president of the Center for the Study of the Presidency. He is the vice chairman and co-founder of CSIS and the former ambassador to NATO.
To his right is Ambassador Stuart Holliday, who's president and CEO of Meridian International Center, widely regarded and known for its work in public diplomacy, global exchange and international cultural programs.
To my left is Mr. David Rejeski, who directs the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies -- I just like saying that -- (laughter) -- and he's the director of the Foresight and Governance Project at the Woodrow Wilson Center.
Dr. Abshire, gentlemen, you have the floor.
DAVID ABSHIRE: Well, thank you very much, David, and I'm delighted to be here to talk about what is now called The Foundation for International Understanding.
One of the great events in American history was the Marshall Plan. The success of the Marshall Plan was based on self-help. I'm not surprised that Ed Ney -- Ambassador Ed Ney, former head of Young & Rubicam -- when he went through these PowerPoints, said this is a Marshall Plan for the spirits and minds of the youth of the world, and I think that's a good caption and it's deeply into the new media.
When I was at NATO a couple years ago, I met with the secretary-general, and I said, "What's your number one strategic concern?" He said, "The youth of Europe -- we've lost them." When the Korean president was here, I said, "I fought in Korea, have your people in my company. What's happened?" "We've lost the youth of Korea. In the Muslim world, some of these people have turned to using the very technologies we talk about -- video games, Internet -- for crimes against humanity. So to take the new media and turn it into something that is constructive is our task.
Now, I think that Pete Peterson, whom I stay in close touch with on what we're doing -- I would believe that it's Joan Ganz Cooney and her creation of "Sesame Street," which is unparalleled -- we've visited there many times -- an associate in this endeavor -- this is an example of what can be done in the private sector and, I think, influenced Pete.
The council -- and I was just talking to Morey -- it's just a few lines in there -- and it casually called this a corporation for public diplomacy, and it -- just a few lines -- it came under vigorous attack from the BBG -- "Well, they're going to broadcast and cut into us" -- fully operational. Some people in the State Department said, "They're going get into exchange and cut across us." So it sort of suffered the inflating fire and it wasn't going anywhere.
I was on the Djerejian advisory group when I testified before that archactivist for good things, Congressman Frank Wolf. During the intermission, he said, you know, "I've come back from Europe. It's just awful, this anti-Americanism. We got to get this idea, if it's called a corporation, resurrected. I will set aside $700,000 if your center will undertake that task." I first said, "Well, you know, we don't take government money." That night, I thought Emerson said, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds," so I called him the next morning and took it.
And we got under way and Phyllis d'Hoop, Jeff Thomas and others -- and working with over 60 associates in this field that are already in it, developed this business plan for a corporation that would -- for a foundation that would get $20 (million) to $40 million of government money annually. It would be privately incorporated, and it would be worldwide on copartners, coproduction, money coming from all over the world. Aaron Lobel, by the way, America Abroad Media, just one of those -- here today, is just one of those partners.
We envision it coming into being -- what we're doing now is the initiative for the foundation -- coming into being in 2009. And part of this endeavor is going to mean getting partners and funders, whether it's from the Gulf states, whether it's from Seoul, it's big in the game business, a lot of it in sort of in a direction that we don't want to go, and -- or Europe or elsewhere, Hong Kong. And so the partnership that we have formed with Meridian and Ambassador Stuart Holliday is going to undertake, working with our staff, that international -- I got out of running CSIS because I wanted to get out of that extensive international travel. He's a lot younger than me, and he's better than me in doing this sort of thing.
STUART HOLLIDAY (?): Yeah.
ABSHIRE: So that is the way that we will build this up, and I think we would hope, as we get donors to help us in the initiative, that those could be brought over for capital development, so that in that third -- what is it -- a parking lot now, at Meridian International, we could have the Foundation for International Understanding and other things.
And we're -- it's wonderful to see Ambassador Jim Jones, one of Washington's great people, Congress, and he was ambassador to Mexico, who's the chairman of Meridian International.
So there we are. I got into serious gaming through the Lounsbery Foundation, with which I'm associated, and David Rejeski -- I don't play games like that. Now I talk about them and swear by them. And this took us into a whole new of genre because we'd be heavy on coproductions, Internet and serious gaming. And when we get to him, he's going to educate you more about that.
HOLLIDAY: Thank you, David.
And I'd also like to thank the council and Pete Peterson for their vision in identifying the opportunity for the private sector and for the many other threads and strands of exchange in communication besides our nation's public diplomacy government efforts that could be brought to bear as we face declining public opinion overseas.
I came into this as a customer. I was in the administration and received the council's report and worked with Ambassador Abshire in the Djerejian report and have been, in effect, a student of public diplomacy for a while. Many of you in this room have undertaken initiatives -- I know Marc Ginsberg and Walt with Leanna (sp) and Aaron Lobel -- others are out there in -- soldiering on in this important arena.
So Meridian's position, really, it's -- is an institutional home and, if you will, an opportunity to provide infrastructure. We've been in the exchange and public diplomacy business for 47 years. Ambassador Walt Cutler led the institution for many of those years. We have a niche which is sort of unique, in that that's all we do, is public diplomacy. In effect, we are not think tank. We are bipartisan. We are a convening forum and have about a hundred staff that work with a network of leaders around the world to help promote understand between the United States and other countries. There are a wide variety of programs there.
But when Ambassador Abshire was in the process of talking to Frank Wolf and others about how do we not allow the things that people are against or that people have problems with bureaucratically or institutionally -- how do we prevent those obstacles from strangling what in effect is a very necessary and needed effort by the private sector and the government to come together and move beyond the 1950s, 1960s-style public diplomacy, where you were confident, if you were Edward R. Murrow and you were doing the "Washington File," or you worked at VOA, that the young kid in rural Czechoslovakia would pick up his news or her news on the radio and that that place would be where they would be getting their definitive news and information. Those days are long gone.
And I think being the country which I think has a unique position in the technology arena, in the media arena, it's our responsibility, I think, to help foster those efforts around the world where individuals in other countries will not be necessarily simply receiving messages from the United States but will be creating content and creating, I think, their own efforts which will, hopefully, root in the soil of those countries in a cooperative and collaborative and non-patronizing way, will root institutionally what we hope are those aspects of society, openness, free media, tolerance; and on a more substantive level, whether it's global health or the environment, to try to foster and pursue projects that can actually advance those goals, because we all know that the best public diplomacy is not simply a marketing slogan, it is, in fact, when there is something tangible that happens to create hope and opportunity or a job or education on the ground in those countries.
So from our standpoint at Meridian, it's a wonderful opportunity to move from the face-to-face diplomacy work that we've been doing for so long into the channels where ideas and communication are taking place currently and into the future. And we hope to be supportive and work with all of you-all to refine this further.
DAVID REJESKI: Well again, thank you for inviting me, and also thank Dr. Abshire for supporting some of the earlier work we did in serious games.
I just want to sort of take you back through sort of the rationale of how I got into the games. I didn't get into games because I was an avid gamer. I got into games -- a friend of mine is a Freudian psychologist, and he always kids me about this -- because of a traumatized childhood. I sat through hours and hours of "Captain Kangaroo" and "Bonanza" and "Have Gun, Will Travel," and so I spent a lot of time thinking about the history. Let me take you through the points there, because in 1946 RCA introduces the first black and white television. In 1951, there are 4.5 million TVs in America. In most cities, kids are spending 2-1/2 hours a day watching television. But that's when there were only two channels. Nine years later, 85 percent of the all of the families in America have a television. Fifty million televisions. So the penetration of the technology was astronomical. It was highly addictive, clearly.
In 1961, the head of the Federal Communication Commission, Newton Minnow, gets up and basically says all television programming has been a vast wasteland. Didn't get a lot of support in the TV community. And in 1967, of course, President Johnson gets up and says television is only reaching a fraction of its potential, and creates the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, essentially putting aside a part of sort of the spectrum in our effort in broadcasting to do something in the public good, to free it up from commercial interests.
So the question I was asking four or five years ago was when somebody was going to deliver the "vast wasteland" speech about computer games, because it's inevitable. I mean, this is an incredibly powerful and effective technology, but it's only a matter of time before somebody looks back and says this was really a vast wasteland. So I began to float this idea around and I found that actually there were a lot of people who agreed with me that there was really a need to create a kind of public-service gaming sphere. And gamers came out, foundations came out, people who played games, social advocates, advocacy groups, and we began just getting together four or five years ago and created essentially a national -- what's grown into kind of an international movement to try to avoid, I think, what's inevitable with sort of this vast wasteland speech directed at games.
Why is this important? I mean, right now in the U.S. there's 140 million gamers. In China there's an estimated 30 (million) to 35 million gamers. We don't know what's going on in lots of other parts of the world. Games will be delivered in all kinds of technological platforms. There's 2 million -- 2 billion cell phones. So a lot of games right now are developed and essentially sent out mobilely. So you've got, again, a technology platform and a media -- essentially a media revolution that's going on.
The average age of gamers in the U.S. is 29, which is the average age of staffers on the Hill. Interesting to think about, what that's going to mean. Forty percent of the people who play games are women. In fact, the biggest users of AOL's game site are women over 45. So you think about not only reaching the youth with this technology, you also can reach other generations, you can reach across genders, and the question is sort of, how do we use this? It's essentially in the backbone of a whole bunch of technologies that are allowing us to go from sort of a broadcasting paradigm that was one to many -- this was the classical Voice of America paradigm -- to many to many, and hook up essentially millions of people. It takes people from being consumers of content to being essentially creators of innovative content.
And one of the most interesting parts of the gaming culture is what they call modding. So games are put out, and all kinds of people are asked into the game to create their own little pieces of the game, to improve it, to continue to improve it, and the culture rewards them for doing that.
So I think there is, you know, a tremendous opportunity here to sort of piggyback on, you know, technology that's inevitably going to, I think, propagate across the globe. It's already propagating. It's far more effective than television in the sense that it's incredibly interactive. And so I think there's things that we can do with this technology that would just -- we could never do with radio or television.
There's not a lot of what I would call public diplomacy games, and one of them mentioned here in the slide show is "PeaceMaker." That was developed by Carnegie Mellon University. It allows people to kind of role play, being Palestinians or Israelis, and sort of try to figure out how to solve that crisis.
There's another game that came out about a year and a half ago, called "A Force More Powerful." It was built on Milosevic and basically takes people through the whole idea of being able to bring about some sort of positive regime change within nonviolent methods, was linked -- the game was linked to a whole bunch of television shows, histories of Gandhi, Martin Luther King.
The U.N. Food Program bought (sic) out a fascinating program last year that puts you in the position of trying to solve a major humanitarian crisis that's been caused by drought or war.
So you're seeing the beginning of some of these games, but certainly they can go much further. So I'm not essentially putting this forward as a panacea, but it's an area that I think remains largely unexplored.
I would just say a that one of the areas that's grown the fastest in the past three or four years is our work with doctors and the health community. So there's now a whole movements called Games for Health. That's received major funding from the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation. We think of doctors and the medical community as relatively conservative, but they've gotten heavily into the games, not only for training surgeons to do laparoscopic surgery -- so if you go in, you should ask your surgeon whether they game -- but also dealing with everything from pain management to dealing with childhood depression.
Again, it's not a panacea, but I think it's something that's certainly worth exploring. And it's a pleasure to be sort of included in this initiative.
MOREY: Thank you, David. Thank you all for being so punctual.
Let me begin the questions, and I'll soon turn it over to our audience.
Let me start with a grounding question. You all have a PowerPoint in your materials, but -- this is to David and to Stuart, to Dr. Abshire and Ambassador Holliday -- fundamentally, you view the Foundation for International Understanding as a grant-making organization. Could you talk a little bit more about how you see that happening? What are the models that you found usefully relevant? And how -- what criteria would you use to make such grants to, as I understand it, fund innovation that might affect positively public diplomacy?
ABSHIRE: Well, you know, in -- when we undertook Wolf's initiative, the first thing we did is go up and talk to members of Congress and learn something from them. And the top-rated reason they didn't like the term "corporation" is because you don't get transparency in government -- (off mike) -- and the top-rated organization of every agency in Washington is the National Science Foundation. We spent time with Bement, the head of it. And it's transparent. It's well-done. You've got quality control. And so that was the model, that this would be grant making.
Now, when we say it's going to be grant making and not operational, obviously for quality control -- and we're looking at different areas, whether it's health, whether it's governance, whether it's religious tolerance, interfaith dialogue, whether it's nation-building -- you're going to have divisions, and you -- of experts that -- advisory boards that you're going to do the quality element. That's going to be a big thing with Congress. And this would privately incorporated. I would hope that Pete Peterson would be the chairman. I have said that to him. I said I don't want an answer now. You've got to wait and see will we get to 2009. But -- and we would certainly bring in an international advisory board, because this is international, privately incorporated, in Washington, government money, but not without (sic) any kind of government control. And we do have a congressional group of supporters, Republican and Democratic, that we're going through very much the same process that was gone through in setting up of (NAD ?) to build a support group.
HOLLIDAY: I agree obviously with everything Ambassador Abshire just said. I'd say that one of the problems in our public diplomacy effort frequently has been bifurcating sort of short-term message reaction, short-term public diplomacy efforts at the expense of longer term more strategic public diplomacy efforts. And I think we would see the integrity of this organization being very much divorced from the former, which is the development of particular messages and strategies to advance our foreign policy goals and really more along the lines, as David mentioned, of the National Science Foundation, where you're essentially planting seeds for the long-term. And obviously, the process by which those grants would be awarded would have to measure up to the expectations of Congress and have a very vigorous and very open and transparent process attached to it.
MOREY: Let's talk about scale and influence in money for a second. In terms of public diplomacy, last I looked the State Department hired about 1,200 -- that's 1,200 public diplomacy employees worldwide. We all know the budget is relatively small compared to other parts of government, compared, for example, to the Department of Defense. And David, in 2004 in your testimony on the Hill, you quoted Napoleon -- "The battle of perception is ultimately three times more important than the army."
So given the financial struggle public diplomacy enjoys, in terms of trying to get prioritization -- further prioritization within government, what kind of scale are you all thinking of in terms of this organization? What kind of leverage up given the power of the Gates, Buffett, Clinton models in the private sector? Can you see this thing scaling up dramatically and having a major role in terms of impacting this challenge that we face in terms of public diplomacy, in terms of sheer resource numbers?
ABSHIRE: Well, we see leveraging. We take -- you know, we're in conversations with the Gates Foundation, about to be. But what we're saying to Gates or Eli Broad, people like this, is that you made a huge investment, and now we're going to go people to people and enable your message on health in Africa, in the Middle East to reach people on a different basis and including young people and the gaming, podcast, all of this, which are interactive, are a part of that. And we would take people that are in foundations that are leadership or ethics, and, you know, corporations like Procter & Gamble, when they go into these foreign countries they want to hire young people that have got some kind of honor code. And so we're talking about maybe you'd have a cyber academy that people around the world could go to and get their baccalaureates, so Procter & Gamble or GE would be willing to hire them.
So it's leveraging. And whereas I mentioned certain American financial entities, but we would -- you know, this is an awful a lot of money in the Gulf states and elsewhere where we would -- that are in production, but people that would come in or heavy financing on a programmatic basis in helping us build some of these academies or cones.
HOLLIDAY: Could I just --
HOLLIDAY: -- just add very briefly, the force multiplier, if you will, in this is also the fact that the money is going to people who have, as far as audiences, inherently. So the dollar value of the public diplomacy money spent, for example, I think would be very, very good return on the dollar.
Secondly, I think that having international partners and engaging other countries and their private sectors in this has and can have the same effect politically and perhaps in terms of drawing attention to the need for constructive, moderate and hopeful messages out there that the Helsinki process, for example, had during the Cold War, where you had, on the one hand, you know, an increase in defense expenditures, but you also had a forum for people to get together to talk about this issue. And right now I think that there are disparate conversations going on, and it's very important, I think, that -- particularly in the Middle East, that there be greater attention to this question.
ABSHIRE: Could I just add one thing on Napoleon's --
ABSHIRE: -- if you want me to update that, the commander of the 101st Airborne, when he arrived in Iraq, General Petraeus said if we can't change minds, we can't win.
REJESKI: Can I make a comment?
MOREY: Yes, and -- please, David.
REJESKI: Okay. I mean, the other people, I think, that would have a vested interest is simply the people that are building the global infrastructure for IT. So one of the things that is worth looking at is the one child, one laptop movement that's come out of the MIT Media Lab. What they're trying to do is drive the cost of a laptop down to $100, and give them essentially to everyone on earth. And that's got some major funding from Gates now. But the question is, what's on the laptop?
MOREY: Let me follow that point with a question directly to you, David. We talked before. If we assume the Muslim world is an important audience in terms of U.S. public diplomacy, 50 percent of that universe is under 17 years of age. So could you talk a little bit, in a minute or two, and we'll go to the floor, about how to reach that youth target, in terms of games specifically? How -- what do you think -- why do you think games should be included in this mix? And how credible, how powerful, is that a mechanism to reach that important target audience?
REJESKI: Well, you know, I don't think there's been, you know, large experiments run in the Muslim community. I mean, we've run them obviously in other areas. I mean, one of the things that has to happen as you move these teams out is how to deal with language barriers, and that's going to be a major issue. I think the other issue that will get a lot of attention is to what extent we politicize, you know, the process.
But certainly you know, there's the potential of grabbing kids. If you watch how kids in developing countries actually -- what they do when they go to Internet kiosks, an awful lot of them will tap into the game world. The other thing that -- I spend some time in a virtual world called Second Life, which now includes, you know, hundreds of thousands of people. And one of the interesting things is who I bump into, because I've actually been in areas of that where I've been in -- essentially in the same area talking with people from 20 different countries.
So we're creating essentially venues where people can come together virtually that would never get together before. You know, companies are using Second Life for a number of reasons. But we'll create a whole kind of virtual world that can be populated by people from -- essentially anybody who has Internet access. And that world can be used for entertainment. But again to me, the real challenge is, how do you use it for other things? How do you put it sort of in the public's service?
You know, as you say, I think this area's just wide open for exploration. But the Internet -- the people that have a significant interest, and that's all the way from the AT&Ts down to the Intels producing the chips, are the people that will build a system. Because they want to see it used for a new purpose.
MOREY: We now invite council members to join in the discussion. I'd like to very much keep it in the style of a working meeting, conversational meeting. Please wait for the microphone to come your way. Speak directly into it. And please state your name and affiliation, and please keep your comments and your questions brief, so others can do the same. And I'd just say, brevity's good, and I see a hand right over there.
QUESTIONER: Joe Grimes.
Sounds terrific -- it's going to be open; anybody can join into it. What kind of control do you have? Suppose you have a game going that's kind of a pro-American game in the Middle East, and Osama bin Laden joins the game with a few different comments? What kind of control are you going to have over that? Do you censor anybody, or is anybody allowed to play?
MOREY: David, why don't you start.
And gentlemen, please come in.
REJESKI: It's a great question, you know. And I don't think it's -- I mean, there -- one of the things that's occurred in a lot of these games is that people develop a -- the culture of the game develops a rule system for what kind of behaviors are allowed. So even in a game that's played by a lot of young people, Sims, the gamers develop a kind of culture of sort of what behavior is allowed in the game. They've actually watched the game being used, the people at development, and set about ways that you can implement rule systems. So one of the games that's been used has developed a way to shun people if they're causing problems.
So the interesting thing, and there's a lot of philosophers and ethicists kind of working in these virtual worlds, is what kind of rule systems are applying. But there's a whole sort of group of people that are working on, you know, how do you actually enforce kind of social rules in these games? And you know, do you allow certain people in; do you allow them out? What kind of behaviors are allowed? What can you do, you know, across genders that would not be allowed for instance in the real world? I think it's an evolving thing. But the interesting thing is there's a bunch of structures that are actually evolving in the game to deal with this issue of who's in; who's out; what can you do; what can't you do?
MOREY: Gentlemen, comment on that?
HOLLIDAY: I'd just say obviously it's already happening. Anytime a tape comes out from bin Laden, he's joined the, you know the voices of the battle of public opinion out there. And I think that there's a certain degree of confidence in the message and confidence that more exposure -- in other words, right now, bin Laden is getting more media attention than anybody else on earth practically. And I think that the real purpose of this is to get more voices and other voices into the game too.
ABSHIRE: I would add, I've been over to -- (off mike) -- they're ahead of us. So like in any other area, and particularly -- (off mike) -- in everything you do, not simply related to an enemy but related to congressional members that are going to want to know about quality control -- (off mike). By the way, part of the way you cross barriers in language and things like that -- (off mike) -- a major dimension of this endeavor.
MOREY: Ambassador Ginsberg.
QUESTIONER: Thank you.
And as a member of the task force on the council, I want to commend Ambassador Abshire and David and Stuart for their leadership in this initiative.
As you all know, I'm president of Layalina Television, which is, I think, one of the best models to date, along with what Aaron (sp) is doing, that has actually produced commercial television programming that's cross-cultural, airing in the Arab world. And I'm proud to announce Sundance Channel will be airing our television series here in the United States, as well. We've already produced about four television series to date or are in the process of finishing them.
The question I have is that some of us who are involved in the presidential campaigns and public diplomacy have been encouraged to begin planning for some new modeling in the area of public diplomacy, and one of the questions that's on the table is, should there be a reconstituted USIA type of division; and why should not this enterprise, the foundation, be incorporated into it, is one of the questions that I've been asked.
MOREY: David, I'll start with you.
ABSHIRE: Well, this question came up in the very beginning of the effort. You know -- (inaudible) -- George Washington -- (inaudible) -- a lot of CIA. I think it was terrible that it was murdered. There was a culture there, with all due respect to the Foreign Service that has helped me so much when I've been in the State Department, but the Sir Harold Nicholson vest and tight way of working. I'm exaggerating to make my point. It's totally different from the old USIA, where you had reporting back to somebody generally that was close to the president.
And we think -- another recommendation that we made -- is there should be a counselor to the president. I think Karen Hughes, her coming into the State Department's wonderful. She should be in the White House. The president becomes the chief spokesman. If the president makes mistakes or gets off tune, you can't correct that by these other tinkerings of public diplomacy. But I think to re-breakout the structure in the State Department and to take those elements and try to put them back into a super-organization I think is too big an undertaking. But I wish it had never happened. I wish it had never happened. Because when I was running CSIS, all around the world I'd talk with USIA. When I was NATO ambassador, our ability to turn the missile deployment around was the USIS forward deployed. But I think that's too much.
And I think furthermore that FIU is on the forward cusp of the information revolution now. USIA was, but it is on the forward cusp, and I think doing through a virtual world so many of these things, even getting eventually into exchanges through the virtual world.
And let me just say that we also hope, as you well know, that there's some -- I think there's 60, maybe, total of organizations that are in the field, whether it's Seeds for Peace, Common Ground, what you-all have done, Dick Fairbanks and your colleagues, so well. We would hope that this foundation would generate new money for organizations like yours, that it would build synergies so, whereas it would encourage new initiatives, it would take these very valuable things that are going on and would be a multiplier effect for them.
MOREY: David? Briefly.
REJESKI: Briefly. Public diplomacy is now -- new Foreign Service entrants -- the second most popular cone after the political cone, which they view as the ambassadorial ticket. That should say something. That's new. There's a new DAS for public diplomacy in the EUR Bureau, and they're kind of moving that way. So I think that there has been some progress in the last year in terms of having the public diplomacy, the old USIA element, be more influential in the building. That will not be an overnight development, but it is moving in the right direction.
I would just say simply that the main issue would be that messages that come directly from the U.S. government are not viewed as -- always with the same eye or as credible as messages that come from third parties and that are developed the same way that ISIS (sp) and NED (sp) can go in and work, people know it's the U.S. government, but that when they work with partners locally, there's a, in a sense, one more step, a distance which gives more impact on the ground.
MOREY: Yes, right there, and I will get you -- in the orange shirt, it looks like.
QUESTIONER: Thank you. Kristin Lord from the Elliott School at George Washington University. I'm wondering if you could please discuss the grant-making process, or the process for selecting projects. Will primarily you wait for projects to bubble up, for grassroots projects through the grant-making process, or will there be people at the foundation who pick up the phone and call Nicholas Negroponte and say, "Hey, can we get our (Sirius Games ?) on your computers?"
ABSHIRE: It would be both. You know, we've got certain cones like the health cone, the leadership cone, the governance cone, the interfaith cone that would be set up and where we would attempt to front-load and then look at a donor base. And then since the foundation's staff -- (inaudible) -- doesn't possess all wisdom, we would expect that there would be new ideas that would come in. But that, as in most foundations -- I run a small one, but, you know, we have a -- go into a year, and we've got a game plan of priorities, but we have a lot of things like David Rejeski and David Walker and Lee Hamilton, get on the phone, come up with a new idea -- the kind of thing I never heard of before. So it would be both.
MOREY: Go ahead, David, please.
REJESKI: And the other possibility obviously is to run competitions. So -- and sometimes if you're in a new field, that's pretty interesting. So I'm involved in some work -- The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has floated $5 million out there looking for disruptive ways to change the health care system. So what they're saying is we don't want to tweak it; we want to change it fundamentally, because it's broken.
And we're right now running a competition looking for (gains ?). It's an open competition. It's run by the Ashoka Foundation. It specializes in open-source social innovations, and we've gotten in a month a hundred applications from all over the world dealing with problems ranging from dealing with HIV/AIDS to adolescent depression, stuff that is really phenomenal, for very little money. So I think there's the possibility of kind of looking at that sort of classic (purview ?) at NSF, an NIH model, and mixing it up with obviously -- as David said, people are going to walk in the door -- (chuckles) -- he wants some flexibility there -- you can use prizes and competitions, sort of the X prize for diplomacy. So I think there's actually a lot of different ways that you can approach it, and you can leverage all of those. And some of the leveraging is quite significant.
MOREY: Yes, ma'am, in the back, in the tan shirt.
QUESTIONER: Thank you. My name is Sonia Schott with Radio Valera, Venezuela. I was wondering if the panel can make some comments regarding U.S. public diplomacy toward Latin America. I would like to know if -- do you consider (this area ?) a successful story? Thank you.
MOREY: David? Stuart?
ABSHIRE: Well, I -- we had determined at the Study of the Presidency -- we have an issue group -- I was just talking about Ambassador Jones; we need his help, but I'll tell you the way we go about something like this. We're going to have a meeting -- we've met with the head of the Inter-American Development Bank, and -- who happens to have been a journalist before he was an ambassador, so he thinks both ways and with his staff. And, you know, we're going to look at their networks and look at the Latin American landscape. And we're very anxious with some of our -- (inaudible) -- of support in Latin American to do this. And so this is a question where we got an ideal organization to give us a head start with the kind of grants that they're making and the contacts that they have got.
HOLLIDAY: I'd just add, exactly the same short-term/long-term trade-off is why a foundation such as this is useful as the public diplomacy apparatus of a government has shifted to the problem of the next sort of year, two years, three years. Many people have said that Latin America frequently gets -- in the hemisphere frequently gets shortchanged in all that because there's not the level of crisis which precipitates that attention, but this is something which we are thinking about.
MOREY: Ambassador Jones?
QUESTIONER: First, David, thank you for your kind words. When Stuart presented this idea to the Meridian Board -- great enthusiasm, because we feel we're at the cusp of a new way to conduct public diplomacy; the rules are not there, and so you have really strong support from the Meridian Board. My question goes to your original comment, when you first started your comments, about the European leaders that you met with and the Korean leaders you met with, and both said they've lost their youth. Could you expand more they've lost it to what, how, and what does that really mean?
ABSHIRE: Well, going back to Secretary-General de Hoop Scheffer, he was referring that we've lost the memory of World War II, what we did for Europe; we've lost the memory of the Marshall Plan, what we did for Europe. These things are gone. And second, of course, it is in many cases not just disaffection with America, but it's disaffection with society in general that some of these people are giving troubles even in the society. Some of that is in the Muslim communities that are not integrated or not related in a healthy way like they are here, but I think it's that loss of mooring and that loss of a sense of history and commonality, and obviously some of these things are our fault.
But you know, the biggest uptake for what we might call public diplomacy didn't come from something called public diplomacy. It came from when this president asked George W. -- H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton to go to Asia after this catastrophe, and like the Marshall Plan, we were helping them. And that, you know -- and I understand that Hillary Clinton's saying privately that if she's elected, which I guess she expects, I don't know -- (laughter) -- but that she wants to get those two senior statesmen to do that kind of thing around the world; where we're doing something for the world, and when we do something for the world -- that's the beauty of the Marshall Plan -- people start admiring us more.
MOREY: Yes, I saw your hand first.
QUESTIONER: Hi. Bill Holly (sp), a former government official. Let me shift for a moment from the supply side and talking about how we get all this put together over to the demand side. And I'd be interested in David Rejeski's experience in how do you trigger on the part of your ultimate audience, whether it's the youth around the world, how do you trigger their interest in participating in these kinds of programs, the serious games, et cetera, et cetera? Do you have an idea that you can make this so attractive that it competes successfully with the thousands of competing entertainment channels? Or do you target your effort at organizations such as universities and others who can pull groups together and expose them through that mechanism? I'd be interested in what -- how your experience on -- with the serious games effort has reflected on that question.
REJESKI: The easiest thing, obviously, is you go for early adaptors, so obviously there's people that are out there that are sensitive to this issue that -- people like to solve problems, and so the idea is not to make a game that's sort of mind-numbing, but let me give you some examples.
There's been also a lot -- people learn in the game world. I was actually in a room with a 13-year-old, who's never really studied, the other day. There was some show running on television, a "Jeopardy" kind of show, and the question was: Who in 1759 wrote the "Theory of Moral Sentiments?" And the kid says Adam Smith. Okay, well, Adam Smith -- you know, most people know the "Wealth of Nations." The "Theory of Moral Sentiments" is a much deeper book, and this is a -- so I said where did you find that out? And he said in a game. And at that point in time, the whole world sort of kind of opened up. I was able to have a discussion -- what did you learn in the game.
The same kid and a bunch of other kids were sitting in front of a game called "Civilization" having a debate about what's better, a monarchy or a parliamentary system, and this went on for about an hour. As anyone -- I mean, I've talked to friends of mine who tried to teach history, they said forget it; I could never engage -- (off mike).
So I mean, I think the goal here is to find something that they are inherently attracted to. I mean, you're absolutely right -- I mean, being able -- there's a bunch of people that will never go away from games like Halo or the shoot 'em up games to play these serious games, but I think this ability of -- we're all game players. And this ability to sort of get people into a situation where they have to apply their creativity, whether it's, you know, running around through some race tack or trying to figure out how to deliver, you know, food and medicine to people in a virtual Africa is something that's very, very attractive to people.
And there's this ability when you start looking at this to bring, I think, into the game multiple layers of education. It's sort of, you know, this ability to kind of get kids engaged at one level where they're challenged, and all of a sudden they come away learning about Adam Smith or what's a monarchy. And I think that's something that we just haven't tapped into.
And the thing I really enjoy is actually having a bunch of kids playing either in a group or virtually asking a question, well, what is the system that works best? That having, you know, an awful lot of -- actually -- the debate actually occurs on the other side of the computer screen or on the other side of this. And that's why a lot of effort has to go into kind of how do you sort of bring the games to the kids? Do you use it in a classroom setting, do you use in some kind of setting where the kids are kind of -- after they play the game, sort of into this kind of argument about, well, what's better. And you can do that across multiple dimensions in terms of, you know, how we generate energy, what political systems do we use, how do we avoid a water scarcity.
But I think the interesting thing is just how much kids take away from this and the ability -- you're using this kind of magnetism of the game to pull them in and then get them to kind of get other messages and interact with other kids. I think that's -- the thing that's lost, quite often, is people who will use these games -- look at the game world, sees a bunch of adolescents in rooms isolated. I think that happens, but an awful lot of the stuff that I found most exciting is happening between kids; as they're playing the games they're actually in -- they're exchanging information.
The other thing you're going to find is people are going to put solutions on the board you never thought of. You know, one of the reasons we're building this national budget game is I want to see what happens if, you know, I got 100,000 people trying to solve the budget problem. And when they released them in -- the budget game in Massachusetts, the first person to balance the Massachusetts budget was not someone from a think tank, it was a journalist. And so this ability to kind of tap into, you know, the collective wisdom and find answers to really, you know, what DARPA calls "hard problems." There's a whole sort of -- (bunch of ?) DARPA-hard problems in the social world that we haven't been able to solve by sort of looking and tapping into people who we've never reached.
And when people get together, they do crazy things, I admit. You know, you can obviously get people, you know, doing a lot of kind of terrorist planning, but they also do incredibly creative things. So, you know, that's kind of what keeps me believing that this is something that is going to be -- is going to have a significant impact, this collective wisdom phenomenon.
ABSHIRE: Bill, could I just say very quickly --
ABSHIRE: -- that I think the other thing is where you've got young kids that don't have the ability or the money to start out on a career thing, they'd rather -- they may be a terrorist instead, but they'd like to be a doctor, they'd like to be a scientist. And, you know, we will survey all the distance learning -- we've done that at George Mason -- that is -- lots going on at Michigan -- so that how these things tie in, so you get that kid. So we want the young Muslims to get a job or to be a scientist or to be a medical technician.
MOREY: Please. The mike is coming.
QUESTIONER: Juliana Pilon. I just wrote a book called, "Why America is Such a Hard Sell: Beyond Pride and Prejudice," so I've been giving some thought to some of these issues. I'm happy that so much thought is being given to public diplomacy. And my one concern is that we jump on new things while old business isn't yet finished.
And Dr. Abshire, the Djerejian report, to which you contributed, has an interesting passage on -- an important recommendation on -- (inaudible) -- legislation, which is a self-imposed, anachronistic but terribly deleterious and, in fact, dangerous handicap to our public diplomacy. It concerns me that it may actually somehow or other apply to or be seen as applying to any organization that has government funding. The Defense Department certainly believes that it applies to itself.
So the first question is: How do we deal with that? Because of course, as the Djerejian report indicated, it is one reason why, for instance, USAID's work is not known. We have spent billions after the Marshall Plan, unbeknownst to not only our community but to the world community. So that's question number one.
And the part two: since we are concerned with the youth of the world and the rest of the world not knowing about all the good things that United States has already been doing and is doing, the other question is, to what extent is it not the case that the youth of world, just like our own, has lost that sense of self-reliance which the Marshall Plan capitalized upon, that sense of individual responsibility and initiative? And how that -- that I don't see reflected in the foundation.
MOREY: David? Stuart?
ABSHIRE: Well, let me say that number one, the Mundt act would not apply to this. That's one of the beauties. And it would also mean that -- let's suppose that a film or a production that was initiated in Jordan brought in an American partner (could ?) be shown across this country -- public television or the Discovery Channel or other things.
But second, we do feel that the -- by getting into the serious gaming and Internet activities on the positive basis of trying to promote careers and career development would help in that last part.
And we -- while it's not a selling America thing, we are going to talk about -- we'll have productions on the American experience, just as we have the British, the Indian experience, Mahatma Gandhi and a range of other things. So we would hope that this positive interactivity would build that self-reliance and that concerns the society that you're talking about.
HOLLIDAY: Personal view is that when the Internet came in, the Smith-Mundt act effectively made everyone a violator, because anything that can be viewed in the United States is technically in noncompliance. So I think it needs a serious look.
MOREY: I saw a hand right there. The gentleman with his hand up in the air, in the yellow shirt, right there. Coming to you.
QUESTIONER: Steven Kull, Program on International Policy Attitudes. We've studied some of these issues, and one of the questions we often ask is, what is the dependant variable you're looking for in -- what's the outcome that you're looking for? Is this more of a process-oriented thing, people becoming more sensitive, better understanding of dynamics such as between the Palestinians and Israelis? Is it specifically a process -- a variable related to the U.S. and the world?
Would this involve American young people, as well as foreigners? Would American young people -- would one of the goals be American young people having a better understanding?
Or is it primarily in terms of content, people understanding American foreign policy better, people appreciating American values better -- democracy, human rights, abstractly or tied more directly to U.S. foreign policy?
What -- again, what would you -- if you were to do a kind of evaluation, what would be the dependant variable you would be most interested in?
MOREY: And let me -- I'm going to use that as the last question, because it's a good one for that. And let me in tag it and tag it. In other words, gentlemen, five years from now, if this, what you've described today is successful, what has it been? What do you see as the successful destination in the form of that questioner's sub-questions? And secondly, if there are people here that would like to help in this endeavor, how do they do so?
ABSHIRE: Let us know; we'll put you to work. (Laughter.)
HOLLIDAY: Well, first, I think the outcome would be twofold. First is five years from now and in the Pew Global Attitude Survey, yours, the Gallup World Poll -- that we would see a shift in attitudes about the United States. But practically, how will that happen?
I think that the goal here is not to convince again somebody that a particular foreign policy position is correct, but again to actually give people the tools to improve their lives, their societies, and deal with some of these real issues through these technologies. And so we would actually hope that, exactly what Ambassador Abshire was saying, that by showing that this is actually going to be improving their lives, obviously consistent with our values and the values we share with others of openness and tolerance, et cetera, that that's going to have a positive effect.
ABSHIRE: I'd just conclude by going back to where we started: Sesame Street. Look at this miracle. I've been up there several times. And you know, the adults all over the world start talking about those programs. So everything you said comes to bear in certain dimensions of what's going on. And that's the amazing thing, that it's a dynamic beast. It is for our youth; it is for the German youth; it is for the Muslim youth. And it's for old folks too.
MOREY: David, anything you want to add?
REJESKI: Yeah, I just -- I think it's a great question, because I think the one thing that could get you into trouble is not building in a robust evaluation structure. You'd have to have, you know, I think, fairly clear-cut goals to do that. You want to be able to pump out, I think, you know, constant evaluation of whether whatever you want to change is changing. Because obviously funders and everyone else is going to begin asking questions about it.
And I think that one of things that's happened with a lot of interactive media is we don't necessarily know what's changing or we don't actually know what metrics to use. So we tend to fall back on the kinds of metrics that were used with other media forms. And so kids or adults, groups of people, might be learning skills that we really haven't figured out how to measure yet. So there's a huge kind of research into, you know, how do we evaluate this. But I think it's important, right at the beginning of anything like this, to flag the need to tackle that, to put in an evaluation of the structure and be fairly explicit about a set of goals.
MOREY: It's only left to me to thank these distinguished panelists and thank all of you -- a lot to think about.
ABSHIRE: Could I make one --
ABSHIRE: If any of you want to become involved, let us know. And you know, six months from now, eight months from now, we'd be happy to meet with you again.
MOREY: Thank you, gentlemen, thank you. (Applause.)
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