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November 15, 2001 – “We applaud the administration’s efforts on public diplomacy so far in this crisis,” says an independent task force on terrorism sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations. But the group goes on to urge that more needs to be done on a sustained basis to “create an understanding in the Muslim world of our cause and our actions that will give their leaders more flexibility to support the U.S. response to the 9/11 attacks.”
Task force co-chairs Carla Hills and Richard Holbrooke noted that the administration “has been moving in the right direction on many of the report’s recommendations.” Hills was United States Trade Representative under President Bush (41) and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Ford, and Holbrooke was the U.S. Ambassador to the UN in the Clinton administration. The report was delivered to the White House and Congress privately about ten days ago.
The report recommends changes in the Executive Branch to achieve the following goals: “a better grasp of our target audiences,” close and high-level monitoring of the public diplomacy campaign, a streamlining of the reviewing and coordinating process for public diplomacy, and “adequate resources to allow for a massive augmentation of public diplomacy assets.”
The report goes on to discuss messengers and messages. “To a certain extent in this case the messenger may be more important than the message,” the report states. The administration must be willing to work with a wide range of potential messengers to gain access and credibility in the Muslim world. And it must listen to the voices in the Muslim world.
The task force includes a bipartisan group of experienced individuals in all aspects of national security policy (see list of participants at end of attached paper).