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Public Diplomacy Steps Taken Since 9/11 Not Enough; Council Task Force Urges the Bush Administration to Counter America’s Deteriorating Image as Anger at U.S. Deepens Post-Iraq War

September 18, 2003
Council on Foreign Relations

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September 18, 2003 - World opinion of the United States and U.S. policy has plummeted in the wake of the U.S.-led war in Iraq. The resulting widespread anger, fear, and mistrust, warns the Council-sponsored Independent Task Force on Public Diplomacy, are creating immediate and long-term problems for the United States that must be addressed urgently.

The Task Force, which first issued a report after September 11, points to evidence that, despite administration efforts, anti-Americanism is more widespread and dangerous than ever. The consequences are substantial, ranging from the difficulty faced by the Bush administration in forming a coalition for U.S. efforts in Iraq, to the increase of new terrorist attacks on American interests, to strained relations with its transatlantic partners.

The Task Force recommends the immediate integration of public diplomacy into the foreign policymaking process rather than just trying to explain policies after the fact— present at the “take offs, not just the crash landings.” Failure to take this and other steps will make it more difficult for the United States to maintain the war against terror and other policy undertakings, the Task Force concludes.

“Growing anti-Americanism means that foreign leaders are finding it increasingly difficult to cooperate with us,” said Task Force Chair and Council Chairman Peter G. Peterson. “This is a sober and practical reality.”

The Task Force, comprised of former top government officials and leading figures from industry and academia, offers specific measures to improve U.S. standing in the world.

Among the recommendations of the Task Force:

  • Make our foreign policy more sensitive to public diplomacy concerns. The task force believes U.S. policies should not pander to public opinion, but be sensitive to it, and strongly endorses an approach that brings public diplomacy into the foundation of the foreign policymaking process. Recommended strategies include: strengthening and streamlining the leadership of public diplomacy coordinating structures; appointing a presidential designee to oversee long-term strategic public diplomacy planning; and appointing a dedicated secretariat with broad-ranging expertise.

  • Draw into our public diplomacy effort the talent and energy of the private sector. Part of this recommendation includes creating an independent, not-for-profit Corporation for Public Diplomacy. Modeled after the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, this new entity would leverage private sector creativity and flexibility, and raise private funding.

  • Improve communications strategies overseas. Recommendations include increasing outreach to foreign press, expanding resources for foreign public opinion polling, and broadening the range of messengers abroad to include respected local business leaders, scientists and sports and entertainment figures.

  • Enhance training for U.S. ambassadors. The Task Force commends the proposed State Department training program for career officers and strongly recommends a much-enhanced training program for ambassadors. Currently, the department offers a two-week training seminar for new ambassadors, and only a small amount of that time is devoted to public diplomacy.

  • Build Congressional support for public diplomacy. To develop an effective, comprehensive program, public diplomacy must be funded at significantly higher levels. The marginalization of public diplomacy has created a legacy of under-funded and uncoordinated efforts. Key members of the Congress must be made aware of the urgency of restoring America’s public diplomacy.

The report commends a number of positive steps taken by the administration since September 11, including the formation of a White House Office of Global Communications, as well as the funding of Arabic and Farsi radio and television broadcasts in strategically important areas. But the Task Force warns that real progress will be elusive until the administration implements meaningful change in how the United States makes foreign policy and communicates with the world.

Established in 1921, the Council on Foreign Relations is a nonpartisan membership organization, publisher, and think tank, dedicated to increasing America's understanding of the world and contributing ideas to U.S. foreign policy. The Council accomplishes this mainly by promoting constructive debates and discussions, clarifying world issues, and publishing Foreign Affairs, the leading journal on global issues.

Full text of Finding America’s Voice: A Strategy for Reinvigorating U.S. Public Diplomacy

Task Force Members

Peter G. Peterson
The Blackstone Group
Chairman

Peter Ackerman
Rockport Capital, Inc.

Roger Ames
Warner Music International

Donald A. Baer
Discovery Communications, Inc.
Former Assistant to the White House Director of Strategic Planning and Communications

Ali Banuazizi
Boston College

Kathy F. Bloomgarden
Ruder Finn

Joan Ganz Cooney
Sesame Workshop

Geoffrey Cowan
University of Southern California
Former Director, International Broadcasting Bureau

Raghida Dergham
Al-Hayat

Joseph Duffey
Sylvan International Universities

Lynn Forester de Rothschild
ELR Hodlings, LLC

Barry Fulton
Public Diplomacy Institute, George Washington University

Peter Georgescu
Young & Rubicam, Inc.

Marc Charles Ginsberg
NorthStar Equity Group, Inc.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Morocco

Martin Gross
Sandalwood Securities

Bruce Gregory
Public Diplomacy Council

Henry A. Grunwald
Former Editor-in-Chief, Time Inc. Publications
Former U.S. Ambassador to Austria

Bernard Haykel
New York University

John W. Leslie, Jr.
Weber Shandwick Worldwide

Bette Bao Lord
Freedom House

Lewis Manilow
U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy

Randolph Martin
International Rescue Committee

Scott Miller
Core Strategy Group

David E. Morey
DMG, Inc.

M. Ishaq Nadiri
New York University
Advisor to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai

Nancy Nielsen
Pfizer, Inc.

Harold C. Pachios
U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy

Norman J. Pattiz
Westwood One
Broadcasting Board of Governors

Richard Plepler
Home Box Office

Moeen Qureshi
Emerging Markets Partnership
Interim Prime Minister of Pakistan, 1993

Walter R. Roberts
Public Diplomacy Institute,
George Washington University

William A. Rugh
AMIDEAST
Former FSO, U.S. Information Agency

Jill A. Schuker
The Kamber Group
Former Senior Director for Public Affairs,
National Security Council

Ron Silver
Primiparous Productions, Inc.

Elliot Stein
Caribbean International News Corporation

Shibley Telhami
University of Maryland

James J. Zogby
Arab American Institute

Barry Zorthian
Public Diplomacy Foundation


Contact: Lisa Shields, Vice President, Communications, (212) 434-9888

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