|May 24, 2002|
May 24, 2002
The U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy is meeting this morning to look at how the U.S. is viewed overseas. Speakers include former CIA Official Graham Fuller. He recently returned from a speaking tour of the Middle East. The Advisory Commission was created by Congress in 1948 to oversee U.S. Government activities that inform or influence citizens of foreign nations. This is live coverage on
Harold Pachios: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the monthly meeting of the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. I am Harold Pachios, Chairman of the Commission. To my left is the Vice-Chairman, Charles Dolan of Virginia. To his left is Commissioner Marie Elena Torano of Florida, to her left is the former Commissioner Walter Roberts who is a consultant to the Commission and is a 42-year veteran of Foreign Service in USIA and one of the senior and most knowledgeable people in the area of public diplomacy. Our Staff Director is Matt Lauer who is sitting a couple of chairs away to my right. Many of you know Matt. I want to welcome all of you journalists and guests and friends from other places in the State Department and the Undersecretaryís office, from the GAO, Inspector Generalís office and other interested people. For those of you who may be watching this through the miracle medium of television, we in public diplomacy always call it a miracle medium, the Commission was established by Congress in 1948 to evaluate and report on the effectiveness of U.S. public diplomacy programs, that is, programs that it designs to influence foreign publics and promote the interests of the United States throughout the world. It has continued to exist since that time. Commissioners are appointed by the President, subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate. The monthly meetings usually involve reports from people in the Department of State and the Defense Department, from government radio, from NGOís and from other people who are involved in telling Americaís story abroad. The Commission, as many of you know, regularly issues written reports. We are fond of observing over the last eight or nine months that in recent years, probably in the last decade, many of the recommendations of the Commission went unheeded. And now if you read the Press and read the reports of others and see some of the suggestions about beefing up our public diplomacy program, we would like to point out that if you went back through Commission reports, probably through the Reagan administration, Bush one and Clinton administration, this Commission has pretty much put in its written reports recommendations which are now being made regularly since September 11.
I want to just briefly bring the Commission up to date on some of the things that have happened since our last meeting; primarily things that I have done and have not had an opportunity to fill you in on. Yesterday, for instance, I was invited with Matt to meet with Congressman Adam Smith who has the new caucus, I think fairly new caucus in the Congress of 74 Democrats of the New Democratic Coalition, I think it is called. They are interested in developing foreign policy positions, and are particularly interested in public diplomacy. So, the Congressman just wanted to chat about what the Commissionís findings were over the last few months and a little bit about the Commissionís history. We want to do that, and I think we all agree it is something we want to do. We are hoping that other caucuses in the Congress that are interested in foreign affairs and taking positions on foreign affairs issues will invite us to have similar discussion. Chuck (Charles Dolan) is going to report a little later in the meeting on what is happening on the Hill with respect to public diplomacy.
We also met with the senior staff of AID yesterday. One of the issues that they raised is whether the story of what American taxpayers do around the world when it comes to foreign aid is really told and really understood by foreign publics. We also talked about the schools and hospitals programs and what it means to have some schools around the world that were build by AID that are essentially American colleges and serve local populations and how it is a substitute, in some respects, for exchanges and a very effective one in many ways. I know that the Undersecretaryís office is working very closely with AID and coordinating their efforts to your efforts, and I guess they have a new interest on public diplomacy. We encourage that.
About two or three weeks ago, I was invited to the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton to talk about public diplomacy. I will just share a couple of things. Essentially what I did is discuss views that I think are more or less consensus views. I wasnít speaking for the Commission but I the things I talked about are recommendations that all of you have promoted and discussed, so I didnít get too far afield. I will just go over briefly what I told them and I think you will find it consistent with the positions that we have taken in the past. First, I discussed at length the need for a coordinating mechanism, a government-wide coordinating mechanism. I said that the discussion was either that the center of coordination would either be the Undersecretaryís office or the AIC. I didnít make a choice. I talked about establishing a very strong secretariat to support this coordinating apparatus. I talked about some organizational reforms at the State Department. I mentioned making public diplomacy the full time responsibility of Deputy Assistant Secretary in each bureau in order to increase the visibility, power and leverage of the public diplomacy apparatus in the department. And also something we talked about two or three times, requiring at least one public diplomacy assignment in order to advance to the Senior Foreign Service. I also talked a little bit about the lack of training in the area of public diplomacy and the need for recruitment efforts; a fact that we have all discussed. The State Department until this administration, frankly until Undersecretary Diaz arrived here, didnít pay any attention to recruiting people who have the aptitude for public diplomacy. Finally, we talked about radio and that we, the Commission, recommended expanding the use of the State Departmentís multi-language Internet websites, and talked about how effective websites were during the War in the Balkans, and we talked about satellite TV and FM broadcasting channels. We talked a little bit about that last night after dinner. Then, in terms of leadership, and this is certainly something happening in this department, was the Secretary and the Undersecretary happening to be uniquely involved here and having some unique expertise in public diplomacy, making it clear that public diplomacy is central to the work of all ambassadors.
Thatís the summary, and I think I did not go very far afield from where you would want me, pretty much talking about the things that we all agree on.
We will have other business and reports from Commissioners. I know Marie Elena is going to make a report on PAO Conference and a couple of more items, I think on youth programs and DOA. And Walter, as always, you are encouraged to chime in.
I am very pleased to have the opportunity to introduce our guest because I have known him for just about fifty years, and that upsets both of us to know it has been that long! Graham Fuller is former Vice Chairman of the National Intelligence Consulate, CIA, and he is currently an independent writer, consultant and political analyst. He received his BA and MA degrees at Harvard University in Russian and Middle Eastern studies. He served twenty years in the Foreign Service, mostly in the Muslim World, and he worked in Germany, Turkey, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, North Yemen, Afghanistan and then finally Hong Kong. In 1982, he was afforded the National Intelligence Officer for Near East and South Asia at CIA. In 1986, he became Vice-Chairman of the National Intelligence Council at CIA with overall responsibility for all national level strategic forecasting. Between 1988 and 2000, he was with Rand Corporation where his primary work was on Middle East, Central Asia, South and Southeast Asia and ethnic problems with the former Soviet Union. His studies for Rand include a provocative 1991 study on the Geopolitical Implications of the Palestinian Interfada, a series of studies of Islamic Fundamentalism in Turkey, Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Algeria, the survivability of Iraq and one called the New Geopolitics of Central Asia After the Fall of the Soviet Union. He is the author of many, many books, and those of us who keep up with public diplomacy, and we do get all the clips, recognize the fact that Graham is a prolific top hit page write. We see many of his pieces in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers across the country. We are very excited to have Graham. He is provocative. He has strong opinions. Heís very familiar with the Middle East, and the Department of State, consistent with its aim of getting credible people to go to the Middle East and conduct public diplomacy by presenting knowledgeable Americans who have frank opinions and engage them in discussion with those who may disagree with us, Graham just returned from a State Department sponsored trip to the Persian Gulf States.
We have asked him to come here and report back to us. We are obviously particularly interested in public opinion in these states and comparing it to his experience in prior years, twenty, twenty-five and thirty years ago in the Middle East, meeting with old friends and new friends, and getting a sense of how things have changed and what the perception of the United States is. Graham, thanks so very much for being with us, and if you donít mind, we will have some questions for you.
Graham Fuller: Thank you, Harold, and good morning ladies and gentlemen. I am very happy to be here to discuss a serious problem with the Commission that has mattered very much in affecting, hopefully, the policy of the State Department and other policy organizations in Washington on this very, very critical area of the world. I wish I was happy about the message that I bring with me on my return from the Gulf Area. I was away three weeks and visited every single Gulf country, spent about three days in each one, involved in giving speeches, seminars, private meetings, press interviews, lunches, dinners, etc. with a whole variety of people. It was an extraordinary opportunity to meet a lot of the important people very quickly, as arranged by our Embassy. I would like to say I am very proud of our country, that it does afford the opportunity for people who are not necessarily fully in support of all aspects of American policy, to go and hold forth in the Middle East or other parts of the world where it really matters. Now, let me get immediately to the issues and to the reports and details I would like to present you with here this morning.
I would have to say that over the many years of living in the Middle East, coming back and forth, living here and then going back there, I have long developed a sense of the distance between these two worlds. I think coming back from this particular trip at this particular time in our Middle East policies, I have never felt such an extraordinary gap of almost inseparate worlds, hermetically sealed one from the other, that you almost have to go through an air lock to get from one to the other, in which the perceptions that we live with in this country and that we imbibe from our media give us one picture that has almost nothing to do with the picture that people have who are living in the Middle East. This in itself I think is the most single disturbing fact. And looking at it very frankly, what are some of the causes for this, what I might describe as hermetically sealed two distinct worlds, two distinct world visions. Because we are a superpower and because we enjoy more freedom of the press in this country than any other in the world, I would have to say that I see some of this problem as stemming from the shortcomings of our own media. I do not think that living here in this country and watching routine news broadcasts, especially on television or even reading the leading newspapers, I do not believe it is possible to get a full sense of the realities in the region. I think that is very disturbing because if it is not going to happen here and if our media is not fully responsive to this task, then I wonder what will happen between the two sides. I would have to say I think this is some of the greatest isolation of our media that I have seen in most of my professional life on this side and I havenít even gotten to talk about the Arab media. Let me say, for example, on Palestine, which it will be no surprise to you all, is the single most important issue in the region that consumes peopleís daily lives and their emotional involvement. We do not, I am afraid, yet in this country get a full picture of the complexity and issues involved in our policy towards the Arab-Israeli problem. Let me just suggest one rather astonishing fact. If you read the Israeli press, you will probably get a more balanced picture of the issues and debates underway about the advisability of certain approaches to handling the Palestinians, the Palestinian Authority and the nature of the 35-year occupation of the West Bank in Gaza by Israel. I think, in fact, we will find more incisive critique of all the different issues that need to be considered in the daily Israeli press than we will here in our own that seems to feel that frank examination of some of these issues is taboo in one way or another.
Now clearly in the region we desperately need friends of America and supporters of America, people who understand America and the American policies. They are present but I am sad to say that I think their number is dwindling and they are increasingly on the defensive. The Middle East itself is also living in its own world as one of these two sealed worlds. Middle East media, especially television media now is at a level of power that is quite new in Middle East history. This began a number of years ago with the famous Al-Jazerra television station that was the first satellite channel to present virtually unbiased accounts of whatís going on in the Middle East including inviting opposition members from various countries to come and speak on television in ways that would be absolutely forbidden to them in their own home country, and physically every single Middle Eastern country has been very quick to criticize Al-Jazeera for daring to voice these things. In the meantime, local presses and local television stations have had to
scramble to start covering these events in their own press simply because they know it is going to be on Al-Jazeera and they have to deal with it in some day. So, the regional media has been forced to open up. But what are the attitudes presented by this media, particularly the television media today. I am sorry to say that these channels now reflect angry moods that reflect those of Arab public opinion quite largely. I would say there is almost universally a negative approach toward the United States and its policies at the political level, not on the U.S. as a cultural society but of U.S. policy. It is quite sweeping and has now informed the entire Arab world of the same facts as they see them, the same perceptions that you know will encounter from small Oman at the Southern tip of the Persian Gulf, which for years was really something of a backwater, not integrated into Arab opinion, now Oman is fully up to date with every other country in the region in its perceptions of these views, and the images and arguments that they perceive there. I would say some of the most disturbing aspects about the regular presentation are the ways in which the images of the Palestinian problem, in particular, are presented. If we see 10 or 20 seconds here of what has happened during the most recent Israeli armed military incursion into the West Bank, occupation of Jenene and destruction of considerable parts of the city, these are images repeated at great length so that local viewers are familiar with seeing destroyed buildings, dead children, weeping mothers, Israeli tanks firing on the region. I donít want to suggest that these are the only realities that exist. We also know there are other realities such as the suicide bombings which are killing Israeli civilians. But, the Arab public while being informed of these suicide bombings is being heavily treated to the very upsetting images that now is the center of their focus. There is still, I am sorry to say, questions not to lessen the media but as a popular level in discussions of whether Bin Laden really was behind the 11 September bombings or if he was, whether there were other forces passing behind him. There is a perception that the United States, while it talks about Saddam is the great enemy who has to be removed, that in fact the United States really is happy to have Saddam in power because it justifies American military presence, the growing American military presence across the region, and the rationale is, "donít tell me that the worldís greatest superpower, if it really wanted to get rid of Saddam Hussein, could not have done so some time during the last ten years, and therefore we have to assume that you are very comfortable with him being there as a way to justify your bases, your military sales to the region, the need for all Arab rulers to look to the United States for self-protection." There is a quickness to seize on statements made in this country, the full dimensions of which may not be realized here but are fully grasped there. And let me just mention two cases in point. When President Bush was asked during some youth conference about Sharon, he replied that Sharon is a man of peace. This particular phrase has been seized upon by the media and it is regularly run, not so much as news items but as fillers between station breaks, etc. where the President says Sharon is a man of peace and then we are treated to 30 seconds or one minute of images coming from the West Bank as they mention all the destruction, Israeli tanks shooting, buildings collapsing, Palestinians being man-handled, etc. So this kind of image is very, very damaging and makes me wonder how we can possibly win some kind of information struggle for information in the region. A second comment that was seized and widely publicized just after I arrived was Richard Armyís statement on Chris Matthews Hardball a couple of weeks ago in which he unequivocally stated that he favored expulsion of all Palestinians from the West Bank. You can imagine the impact that this had on Arab media and the extent to which this fueled deep suspicion of what the American agenda is. Most Arabís now feel that American interests and the interests of Israel are absolutely identical, that there is no difference whatsoever between them and that therefore they are powerless in being able to change anything. During session after session, I am asked, " What can we do to get the message across to the United States about our particular perception on these issues? Why are we not afforded an opportunity to discuss these things? How can we bring this to the American public." And it is very difficult to give easy answers about these questions.
Now what are some of these current realities? What are some of the thoughts that people here - I mentioned a few of them who see beyond it. I would say there is deep cynicism and bitterness about the U.S. as an honest and impartial broker in the peace process. Hope for years that perhaps there might be some willingness to grow more balanced I would say now has almost descended to zero. Most Arabs feel that all of the decisions related to the Middle East are made in Washington and in Jerusalem and that there is virtually nothing any Arab capitol can do to seriously change this major balance of force. When I mentioned their belief that U.S. and Israeli policies are indistinguishable, there is also on the other hand some disbelief that could this really be true that the worldís greatest superpower with global concerns would be seemingly linked in the Middle East region to the interest of one sole state with differences only being occasional tactical procedural issues and not substantive or strategic. There is full understanding in the Muslim world and the Arab world that the United States will support Israelís existence to the end and that is appropriate and that is our policy and should be our policy, but people question does that mean that everything that any Israeli government does is also fully acceptable to the United States? Why donít we distinguish our interests a little more clearly and give some hope to the region. There is a sense of impotence that I think is perhaps more dangerous than even anger because impotence is something that eats away at you from inside and at one point or another it is going to lead to some very dangerous explosion.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, there is a huge cadre in the Middle East of people educated in the United States at university levels who have the warmest and fondest memories of this country. You can meet hundreds of them at any gathering. They will tell you about their time all over this country, in the Midwest the hospitality they encountered, their admiration for Americansí political values for democracy, for human rights, for minority right, this kind of thing. But they say, "We do not recognize your country when we see your policies in our part of the world. We donít see these American values reflected at all." Where is your support for democracy when they perceive the United States prefers to deal with dictatorial regimes that will fulfill American biding rather than opening up these countries to a more democratic practice? Thatís an older generation that was educated here and they tell me they can barely justify any more in public their one time belief in the United States as a just democratic and fair country. They therefore feel they must be silent in the face of these pressures that are now growing in public opinion there. But as I said, this is the older generation. What about the younger generation? One little reported fact that I think is significant at least if not economically, politically, is the present boycott of Arabs and, I think, indeed other Muslim countriesí boycott of American products. This is going on right now and growing. All American fast foods are now virtually empty. The only people you see in them are a few foreigners. McDonaldís, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Burger King that used to be jammed and that local kids loved are now virtually empty. Parents told me, "It is my kids who are insisting that we not go." It is the teenagers that are now saying we will not buy American products. We will not go to American fast food outlets even though we love the food. They are the ones telling their fathers, "Why are you smoking Marlboroís other American cigarettes. Donít you know this is an American product?" There are slogans up around the area saying, "buying a hamburger at McDonaldís is providing one more bullet for Israeli forces in the West Bank." Youth is taking this very seriously. Two different people in quite different countries told me that they had been in this country during the Vietnam War at university here, and that they had witnessed a generation of young Americans being radicalized by the war and the images on the screen. They said, "I am scared to say it but our children now are being radicalized by the same sort of experience. This may be their defining moment of their understanding of what the United States is and stands for in terms of its apparent total support for what they see as appalling things in the West Bank."
Harold: They donít have a balanced view, and it seems to me that there are certain things we canít do. By far the majority of people in this country believe our policy in the Middle East is at this time correct. They think it is correct. But it seems to me our job is to balance this out and to remind these people who say they have an appreciation for American values of a few things: First of all, when Representative Army makes a statement and they seize upon it and put in on Al-Jazeera and play it over and over again, they need to be reminded of the fact that unlike their countries, politicians in this country can say anything they damn please and that it is a free country.
Graham: I understand that, but . . .
Harold: If they want to get the word out in this country, do what the Palestinian Authority does and go on talk shows. This is the easiest country in the world to get a message out. There are so many media outlets out there. So, I understand what they are telling you, and I think one of the problems is that we are not going to change a policy but we can, and this is what I think we are working very hard on in this building, change the discussion to broaden its base and talk a lot about these values that these people who are talking to you say they respect but then question.
Charles Dolan: Let me ask you a question because it is a little bit of what we talked about last night. I want to preface it by saying I am a believer in the exchange programs. But sometimes it helps to play devilís advocate, and maybe it is a possibility - I am not saying it is a fact - that the exchanges have not worked in the Middle East. One of the questions that I have for you is that there is this Gallop pole of 10,000 people in nine Islamic countries, 53% had an unfavorable view of the United States. Thatís fine. But 61% did not believe Arab terrorists perpetrated the 09/11 terrorist attack. Do you think that the people who have been over here on the exchanges believe that, and if so, what are the things we are doing wrong. Clearly, we are not doing something right because they are not getting the overall picture in this country.
Graham: In presenting all these facts, I think it is important for Americans to understand the mood, the views and the attitudes that we are not otherwise aware of here. It is very, very difficult to be aware of them. I am not remotely suggesting that these views represent the totality of reality of the Middle East. But, I am saying it is certainly their reality, and if not, I am giving you some of the more disturbing things. There are discussions. Al-Jazeera which, by the way, is now one of at least a dozen stations in the region that more or less reflect the same thing. Al-Jazeera is no longer a unique voice in this way. Al-Jazeera has presented Chris Ross of the State Department. I have appeared on Al-Jazeera. Both of us have been on the air speaking in Arabic to Arab audiences. They interview Israeli officials and journalists so it is not as if it is strictly a one-sided propaganda exercise, but the overwhelming preponderance and vision of images is very negative. So, I am concerned that if we have a generation of people who we say were educated here, that that kind of generation (our Embassies are worried about the same thing) that these younger generations are undergoing a very different experience. People now say, "We donít want to send our children to the United States any more for education." They are opting for Europe; they are opting for Australia because of their concern over these issues. Our Embassies are concerned that we might have lost this tremendous investment of a generation or more of educated professionals, fluent in English, full understanding of this country and its values who now feel somewhat silenced and marginalized as a result of all of this. It is a sad reality even in the area that our Embassies have now had to turn into fortresses as a result of terrorism that has been perpetrated against the United States in the past. There is every reason in the world for Americans to be vigilant in protecting their embassies overseas. But when you go to an embassy as some of you have done so, when you go into them, it is like going into a high security prison with repeated checks, metal guards, examinations that are sometimes beyond what we have here in airports. It is highly intimidating. Locals simply do not go to American embassies any more because they see it as such a deep concern. And our Public Affairs officers are sharing in these concerns and understand the need for security, of course, but it presents this fortress mentality that makes it very difficult for visitors to come by to use the American libraries or to meet people or to find information about the United States.
Harold: Let me stop you a second here because this is something that the Commissioners talked about a lot. Mostly because of limitation of funds and appropriations, over the past fifteen years most of the American centers and libraries, as you know, detached from the embassies have closed down. They donít exist. And as I listen to you, putting aside the security issue for a minute, as I listen to you it occurs to me that never before have we had such good reason to establish American cultural and educational centers in the Middle East and in the Islamic world as we do today, away from the embassies, to begin to make available this balanced portrait of life in America and the values that Americans hold and our foreign policy positions. Now itís a major security problem, obviously, but we talked about this a lot and we think this is something that needs to be looked at because if you can do it with sufficient security yet permit local citizens to use these facilities, I think we will have gotten somewhere.
Marie Elena: I have a question. When you talk about news and we are all so concerned about the future of our population, what about our entertainment industry? You used to be very attuned to the MTVís and the movies and then as a result there were attitudes developed, you know, wearing jeans, etc. It is always positive what we send out but what is happening here?
Graham Fuller: Sure, I think this is a great question. To me as I look at the situation there, I see a major disconnect between immense interest in American culture, American films, American music, lifestyle, even hamburgers, but one that now sees the political edge of this as an absolute contradiction to it. I mean it used to be popular to eat MacDonaldís and still hate American policy. Now you donít eat American hamburgers anymore if you are angry enough about American policies in the region. And we are talking about a couple of hundred million people here, not just a small or tiny group, and we are talking about American educated, essentially pro-American groups. I mean I think it is wonderful but you can get MTV out there. If you surf through the channels, you can get MTV and you can see American films. But, I think the difficulty is how does that link with specific policies. People will say we love your country, we detest your policies and now we are not able to even deal with your country much anymore because we feel we have been driven so much to the wall.
Now Harold, I think your suggestion is a very important one. Other countries, the French, the Germans, the British all have cultural centers and libraries and bring music, culture and art, etc. to the region, far away from their embassies located downtown. I donít know how they fully handle the security problems but certainly distance from the embassies is one, perhaps staffing it largely by non-Americans is another way to do it, and there would be certain risks, I suppose, but we donít know yet what those risks would be. To flee from this would look like America has simply withdrawn from any public engagement.
Matt Lauer: Undersecretary Beers right now has an initiative called American Room and essentially it would handle this issue. There are very sophisticated people involved in the effort, some Hollywood individuals and individuals from the Smithsonian. Essentially this American Room would be at an off-site location, a place where somebody could go to experience a multi-media environment and learn about American culture, have access to the Internet as well as other items, as well, and Americans would not staff it. There would be a local individual who would staff it and would not necessarily be a target or problem in terms of security problems. I think it is currently in development right now in the preliminary stages but that is a big program and something very interesting that would probably remedy this whole situation.
Harold: I am glad you told us about that.
Walter: We are reinventing the wheel. We had those fifty years ago all over Europe, called libraries, information centers, cultural centers, American (hoisa?) - my God, in every city in Germany we had one.
Matt: I think what is different about this is that it would be in a local cultural center so it would not be an American government entity but an area where people would congregate and go for information so it would be their establishment with an American room inside and a local citizen inside.
Walter: We had that, too.
Harold: It is a great idea because you would have to blow up the building to get at the room which they would be reluctant to do.
Walter: We did that, too.
Marie Elena: It would not be a NGO. It would be in local community centers, youth centers?
Marie Elena: Okay.
Walter: In the main library in Moscow, for instance, we have an American room there. We have had that for 20 or 30 years.
Matt: This is modeled somewhat after that in Moscow . . . .
Terry speaks here but is inaudible until this point:
When you go in, life is a service channel. You feel you have a direct connection to the United States. People are able to see aspects of American culture that we never see in a library unless you were intimately familiar with the library. I get lost in our own libraries here. But the idea is that when you go in, no matter what age range and depending upon your interests, you can find an instant connection with all the various factors of our culture. And I am really excited, especially with some of the best in the industry when you talk about the Smithsonian. This has really been a galvanized effort that is really desperately needed.
Marie Elena Torano: Is this a follow up to your American Corner presentation?
Graham: But I would have to say that the packaging, of course, of American policy is very important. But the package also has to have content, and if the policies themselves are perceived as fundamentally flawed or alienating, a prettied up package will not make a difference in that. So, I think we need to be aware of both the packaging as well as the content.
And then I would just make one other key point here. I find again tremendous admiration for American values as they are practiced in the United States by people who know the United States. As an American who served overseas for so many years, I would welcome a reflection of our own foreign policy more broadly of these values. I think sometimes we get a very hard core, whether you want to call it "realiphobic" or whatever strategic approach begins in which values are often shoved side. Democratization is inconvenient an awful lot of the time. We are reluctant to speak. The State Department I applaud for its human rights reports, which I think, are a credit to the State Department and our government in producing them. But, in fact, when it comes to translating this into broad policy, our willingness to talk to allies who are seen as essential, we are quite willing to overlook these things. So it is a sense of double standard. This word comes up endlessly in the region, that you are not loyal as Americans to your own values and to your own standards. We do not reject your political values - we want your political values - it is you, they say, that we perceive as not applying them in any systematic way. I believe this is our single greatest strength. Every unique power in the world is not a military power alone but the ability to project values makes the United States different in world history.
Harold: We have plenty of questions. Do you want me to start? One of the things that is interesting about your report is that you give us a very realistic appraisal of public opinion in the area. I donít know how you can counter and Arab television station repeating over and over again some image. If it is not going to be balanced, it is not going to be balanced, which leads us to the proposals of the State Department, the Broadcasting Board of Governors and of this Commission to create a government sponsored satellite television broadcasting in the area. You (Graham) are an old time diplomat. Walter is a young diplomat. But both of you will recall that even to the most closed societies during the Cold War, intellectuals, academic journalists and others would listen to broadcasts. In those days, it was short wave. Now it has to be something different. And I think they will listen to these, and it is a two-tiered thing. One is talking about mass broadcasting, popular music. The idea of the Middle East radio network is popular music interspersed with accurate news. This was started and has been very successful in its earliest stage. But it seems to me that people do understand when something is not balanced, particularly opinion makers. If someone is watching Al-Jazeera or another one of those stations and they are repeating these negative images constantly, they still will look for a balanced view. If people think that we are totally one-sided, which in my view we are not, it is clear that there may be an imbalance but we are not totally one-sided. If they will listen to Middle East radio network, they will probably be. . .
Harold: Chris, could you come up here and sit please? I would like to welcome Ambassador Chris Ross who has come to join us. Chris is Special Coordinator for Public Diplomacy in the Office of the Undersecretary. Those who have been around this business for a time know that Chris has served as United States Ambassador to Syria, Unites States Ambassador to Algeria and was also the coordinator for several years of the U.S. Governmentís State Department efforts in counter-terrorism. I think you were popularly known as the Counter-Terrorism Czar, so we are delighted to have the Czar here this morning.
Chris, we have been listening to Grahamís report on the trip that you folks sponsored to send him to the Middle East. Both of you have spent a lot of time in the Middle East. You are both fluent in Arabic. I know that you were the first person dispatched after 09/11 to go on Al-Jazeera and I think, Graham, you have been on it, too, and you both know the region very well. What Graham has been telling us against the background of many years out there over a long period of time is that he is discouraged by what people, some of them old friends who were friendly to the United States are telling him. One of the things we are interested in when we talked to you before about this is how we get a more balanced view. And just as you were coming in, I was asking Graham to comment on something he said earlier which is on Al-Jazeera they will take the tanks in Jenene and play that image over and over and over again. And if they find a child is wounded, they will play the image over and over and over again, and you canít stop them from doing that. So, how do we counter that because they are going to continue to do it -
or will Graham answer the question?
Graham: Because it is a free medium, I did go on Al-Jazeera again this time briefly. I have done it before and Chris has. And I did raise issues saying look, you know there is repetition of these images repeatedly, and they say yes but the incidence are going on repeatedly and it isnít exactly the same image for thirty days in a row. It is new images of, often, a new event. And they will say how many times did we see the World Trade Center coming down on CNN as they saw it in the region for a long, long period of time. So, I donít want to say that their media is no different than our media, but I am suggesting there is problem of not just talking to them but certain realities that Arab public opinion focuses on. Our public opinion is naturally interested in what is happening to happening to Americans. This is part of our disconnect.
Chris: You are, essentially, absolutely right. But I think it is important to recognize that we have perhaps made more than we should have of Al-Jazeera. It was an important outlet and remains an important outlet but it is not the only outlet. There are a great many satellite stations operating throughout the Arab world and we have worked with all of them. The initial focus in Al-Jazeera came because they were first the only television network to have a correspondent in Kabul for a long time. So there was lots of news coming out, both information and misinformation, from the correspondent there. Second, as you know, it was a preferred channel of communication for
Osama bin Ladenís private network. So, we had to do a certain amount of work with Al-Jazeera but it is one of many outlets and we do work with all of them.
Graham: I think Chris is aware, too, that today - yes, you are absolutely right. Al-Jazeera is no longer unique. I would say this same phenomenon in one degree or another is reflected on lots of different television stations in which Al-Jazeera is actually not even the worst by any means.
Harold: In repetitive images?
Chris: Not just repetitive and negative treatment of events from an Arab point of view in which there is a great deal of indignation and anger, and this is repeated on almost all channels in the region.
Charles (Chuck): What about the Press. If you read the European press, you get a different picture than you get from the American press, as well. It is not quite where the Arab press is. Now do we know what their images are like, what are they doing on BBC and the French -German press?
Chris: It would be somewhere between us and the Arab media, an accurate reflection of where they sit geographically and substantiatively. Obviously, each of the major media market is playing events in accordance with the interest of its viewers and it is not at all unusual that the Arab market would play one way, the European market another, the U.S. market a third way. I think what is important here for us in public diplomacy is to recognize that there has been an explosion of technology which has led to a flood of information but not much knowledge or understanding. The context is often missing so there is lots of information out there that moves at a tremendously rapid pace and, unfortunately, the unsubstantiated rumor that gets broadcast once becomes fact and the rebuttal never really catches up. A prime example of this is would be early reports that somehow all the employees in the World Trade Center with Jewish background had somehow been warned to leave and this was, of course, evidence of great plot. We immediately went out to rebut that allegation but it stuck. It stuck because it was the first one out. So hereís this cacophony of reports and information and misinformation, and we find ourselves working hard to catch up. That has to do, in part, with the fact that over the last ten years the resources for public diplomacy have been allowed to atrophy and this is especially noted and noteworthy in the television field. The radio field, thanks to
Norm Pattis, is going to be doing rather well in that we have now established a new Australia network which seems to be very successful from some of the initial reports that we have had in the region. Television is at this point a big question mark. As you know, there is congressional interest in funding a U.S. Government television presence in the Middle East. There is also interest in the private sector in organizing a privately funded commercial presence in the Middle East. At this point, I donít know where this issue will go but it definitely needs to go somewhere because we are absent in the prime media of the Arab world.
Graham: I would add to that, too, that I think the difficulty for any American enterprise, either government or private, would be finding a niche that is relevant. We talk about our popular music. There are just tons of stations and TV channels that have great Arabic music. If it comes to American music and pop music, rock or rap, MTV is available to anybody out there in the region, a regional MTV program. And BBC is available, which I have to say frankly in my personal view is more balanced than the media coverage I see in this country by and large, but would be perceived as more balanced. Therefore, people in the region who watch BBC, I think - and they watch CNN as well, those who understand English. BBC comes in Arabic, as well. So where is the special niche. This is, I think, a potentially great task.
Harold: We have several items on our agenda, and Iíd like you to stay here if you would, Graham. Chris, can you tell us a little bit, bring us up to date on what is going on in other diplomacy? Currently, we get these reports every month or so but a lot is happening everywhere so it is good to be brought up to date.
Chris: As I am sure you are aware, we have been working to improve our ability to convey policy, which is one of our most important mandates, get the word out about what U.S. policy is, what itís context is and we have done this a number of ways since September 11, mobilizing an unprecedented number of spokesmen, senior officials both in Washington and abroad. We have focused especially on trying to get people who could express policy in Arabic, which is how I initially was recalled to active duty. We have put out at least one major publication, The Network of Terrorism, which sets the events of September 11 in their fullest context. We greatly increased the number of television co-ops that we are doing under which we bring foreign television crews to the States and help them film subjects of interest to them and of us on their home channels. We have done a number of things, as I say, to inform, and to the best of our ability to influence foreign audiences. At the same time, we have looked further ahead and we have developed three
themes that we have asked our information and educational and cultural exchange programs to focus on. The first theme is re-presenting the values of the United States, which in most cases are universal values, but to re-present what this country is about, what it stands for, and the values that the American people espouse. And we have done this initially to the proximate audiences in the Muslim and Arab world and we have done this through a focus on religious tolerance as illustrated by the life in the Muslim community in the United States. We are developing a whole series of programs to illustrate that. In the end, Muslims can practice their faith more freely in the United States than they can almost anywhere else in the world. So thatís one theme. A second theme has to do with the place that democratization, open markets, etc. has in assuring a better future. We chose this quite consciously to try to develop an alternate vision, other than a vision of despair, frustration which is in so much of the world and which at its extreme can lead people to espouse terrorism as a way redressing grievances. A third is a very clear focus on education and recognition first of the importance of the younger generation in all of this looking at the demographics of the region and of the world, a huge percentage of people who are under 25, let us say, and who are looking to acquire the tools that allow them to participate in the modern world. Education is, as I say, a major focus. It is a huge task and goes far beyond the public diplomacy bureaus of the Department of State. We hope that by rallying all of the resources of the U.S. Government to approach the issue in a coordinated fashion. We are looking particularly at this point at improving the interagency coordination in close contact with the White House, with the Embassy staff and we expect to have a new structure in place in the relatively near future.
Harold: Is this a structure similar to the PVD (PDD?) that Clinton issued and something that would have a secretariat?
Chris: That is correct.
Harold: And it has not been decided, I assume, where it will reside.
Chris: That is exactly right. There are several proposals being looked at.
Harold: Do you think this will happen by fall?
Chris: This should certainly happen by fall.
Harold: That would be good.
Chris: Yes, indeed it would.
Charles (Chuck): Will the Coalition Information Center be a part of that, because from everything I hear and gather is that it is going very well.
Chris: Something like it will continue, under what name and with what kind of staff remains to be seen, but we definitely recognize the utility of the three coalition information centers that were set up to take advantage of the 24 hour news cycles, Islamabad, London, Washington, run in Washington, and something of that sort will continue to be in play to get a better focus on the various agency resources.
Another area, in which we are looking to magnify our efforts, if you will, is in the realm of exchange alumni. The Undersecretary was astounded when she arrived in her position last Fall to discover that, although we have been operating educational and cultural exchange programs for over fifty years, we have never tried to keep track of these exchange alumni. This has been done at some posts on a country basis but it has never been done worldwide. So we are going to be investing significant resources in trying to locate all of these alumni and to find some way of interacting with them as a potential resource for those who care to reflect on their experience with the United States to a wider audience. This, too, is an important issue that we are going to address.
We are also going to reach out to the private sector in a number of ways, working through various professional and business associations to see what role the American presence abroad can play in helping to convey what America is about in the same way we have recently been in touch with the various organizations of Americans who live abroad, The Americans Abroad, etc.
Finally, we are looking to strengthen the feeling of community among the practitioners of public diplomacy. We took a very important first step that Maria Elena attended in January when we held the first global conference of Public Affairs Officers ever held. We had some trepidation about this and there were a great many people saying we are not going to get anything useful out of this. We were very pleasantly surprised to see that, in fact, a great deal was accomplished. People left with a renewed commitment or renewed feeling of belonging. This was particularly important given the fact that two or three years had transpired since consolidation. So that was one initiative to rekindle a certain spirit.
Another area we are looking at in the same vein is the issue of public diplomacy training. As a result of consolidation or as an unintended byproduct of consolidation, not much attention was paid to maintaining a high level of public diplomacy training. The Undersecretary recognized this as something that needed to be redressed and we are working actively with the specialists at the Foreign Service Institute and with some outside institutions that deal with public diplomacy to redesign a training program that will be more intensive and longer in duration, both in terms of individual courses and in terms of training courses throughout a personís career.
Harold: There is not now a requirement that you take any training in public diplomacy. Is that right?
Chris: There is a three-week course for new entrance into what we call the public diplomacy cone or function. Thatís all there is right now, and there will be much more later but this really has two aspects. The first is what kind of training to give those who enter the public diplomacy function. The other is to give what kind of training to all the other Foreign Service Officers who go abroad because in the end, public diplomacy, while it has its practitioners, is not something limited to a small cadre of people. In fact, in Morocco, Ambassador Tutwiler has taken this to quite some length in that she has organized her entire embassy from herself down to the Marine guard into small teams of two or three to go out to Moroccan high schools and talk to students about what it is like to be in America and what brought them to Morocco, not hard policy diplomacy but giving America a human face in front of audiences that in many cases will never have seen an American. So it is a good demonstration that anyone can participate and contribute to public diplomacy. This raises the issue of whether there might be some good training to give everyone who goes abroad.
Harold: I think most of the Ambassadors and younger Foreign Service Officers who have become Ambassadors are more attuned to it than the old cadre, for sure.
Chris: Well, thatís partly a reflection of the way the world has evolved to become more cognizant of this.
Harold: Well we know that you started out as a Public Affairs Officer and you became a Czar.
Chris: Just to mention one other thing we are doing, we are also looking at how the Public Diplomacy Officers in the various bureaus of the State Department work with their own bureaus and with us in the fields, again to assure greater coordination, to insure a greater place for public diplomacy at the policy table. These are all things that we are doing, as I said, to rekindle a certain spirit and increase our effectiveness.
Harold: Chris, in the years Iíve been on this Commission, the one issue that has recurred most frequently is how to get public diplomacy in at the take-off instead of at the crash. In other word, to be part of the policy making and that, I think, is the single most important thing in terms of American foreign policy, and perhaps the most difficult to achieve. We donít wantí to comment on what everybody talks about as the culture of the organization we worked for all these years, but we all know it is going to be difficult to achieve.
Chris: Well, in a way events impose certain things. I think it is true in the ten years before September 11, roughly the period from the collapse of the Soviet Union until then, we had really forgotten about the outside world and we didnít care much about what it thought or what it said. This was reflected, as I mentioned earlier, in the decrease of resources for public diplomacy. September 11 came very much as a wake up, if you will, so that what goes on in the outside world, what people think and do has a very direct effect on us, can have a very direct effect on us. So it has made us much more conscious of the importance of public opinion abroad as if it is going to translate inevitably into greater attention to that aspect of things as policy is formulated.
Harold: Say whatever you want, this is a free country.
Graham: I think this is a very important point that Chris makes. I would go a little further in saying that I think this is one of the risks of being the worldís sole superpower in that it breeds a certain isolation. It is astonishing for anyone who lives overseas and works, in however small a country, to see how well aware people are locally of policies made in the United States or occasionally Europe, but especially in the United States. Then you know that their future is going to be directly and perhaps powerfully influenced by decisions taken here in the United States. But with the kind of isolation of power that we have here, it is very easy to fall into the feeling that what happens in most of the rest of the world really doesnít matter most of the time because we are going to be calling the shots. This is an attitude that I think is picked up very quickly by those overseas and, as I suggested, in the Middle East these days feeling that they are out of the loop when it comes to seriously changing events that matter. It may not always be the case but I think we have to be aware of our need to overcome this self absorption that our media sometimes has, that no matter what others do, it really doesnít matter because it is what we do here that will be decisive.
Harold: We have a time problem so weíve got to move on to some other issues. Chris, are there some other things you want to talk about before you go back upstairs?
Chris: I think I touched on the main things. One development as a result of September 11 is that the Congress is very interested in public diplomacy and seems quite prepared to make new resources available. We, of course, work within the confines of the present budget request. We also work within the confines of what we think out present staffing can effectively do so it is as important in looking at increases in resources to look at your human resources as it is to look at your budgetary resources. These things go hand in hand and we will be working very closely with the Congress. We certainly applaud the spirit of the Bill that Chairman Hyde and Congressman Lantos have been working on.
Harold: Including the positions about the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy? I hate to put it to you that way.
Chris: I think we want to maintain a very productive working relationship with the commission and I think we have done pretty well in this regard in the last few months. We are in a situation right now with the Hyde Bill that we can support it if the funding levels that are proposed in there come somewhat close to the Presidentís budget request because the rest of the bill, Title I and Title II, express a great deal of support for public diplomacy and that is something we like.
Marie Elena: I wish the Ambassador did not have to leave right now because the next item on the agenda is to report on the PAO contract and what has happened here when you identify your theme and went on to talk about some of the actions of the programs that we are considering, you really summarized not only a two and one-half day agenda but a hand full of notes. As I was reviewing my notes yesterday, you have captured the main themes of two and one-half days of very open, ongoing dialog between
Secretary Beres who went through part of her learning curve, and that was a very steep one, and she faithfully sat there for, again, two and one-half days. (I think she went to the beach a lot early in the morning because she looked just great! And I am the only one who noticed that, right? But, I will go ahead and reinforce what you said. I think many of the PAOís came in with a little skepticism and you could see the transition. I think that the giant ad was people asking what are we here for, and then slowly, and I agree that that ad was needed. You know why? Because there is a world out there that is not diplomacy. It is not American Embassies. It is things that sell. It is how to do we reach consumers. How in the States do we reach a population, especially the youth of those countries that are beginning to hate us with a passion! And as we have been wizards in advertising, we have been wizards in developing messages, and we are failing blatantly. So that was very good. I just wanted to hear that, and Chris, at the end if you want, summarize something that I left out. The dialog between the PAOís was that this was the first time they were all together. It was candid, open, there was responsiveness from the other side. They talked about administrations and operational issues that have not been, perhaps in their opinion, effectively addressed after consolidation, and when you talked about one of the issues of working with the fields, you and the different bureaus, I think you captured that aspect of it. In the agenda, I think the Undersecretary and Chris Ross covered all the elements. The only one I thought would have been helpful, but it was not timely yet though it was referenced, was the private sector, and I think it is a very important issue - crucial. This has to be a joint partnership between the public and private sector.
There was the agenda. For example, we had Secretary Beres open and she was very welcomed, very gracious acknowledging that, hey, give me a break, I have been here six or seven months. Even before I was confirmed, 911 happened and I have been addressing it ever since. Then she said that just getting you together brought a lot of resentment, a lot of "what are we doing, why are we spending so much money" and she fought for it. So there was an appreciation on the part of the PAOís for having somebody who championed their needs.
Then you came up with a slide show of some research that has been done on why do they hate Americans Ė I think the title was Why Anti-Americanism. It was fascinating, and I think, Chris, it would be great if we could have it because it is the things we have been talking about, basically the opinions. But beyond that is the emotional reactions of what we are doing. When we are trying to do all the public diplomacy programs that we have traditionally done, we are facing emotional barriers of resentment, of hate, or mistrust that are going against their interests culturally, religiously, etc. that were never heard before, at least not in a lot of what we are doing now. And after you said that television stations are ramming the audiences with all those visual images, thatís not going to solve any problems any time soon.
Then there was government and you had Chairman Hyde and Senator Lantos and the dialog, again was very, very good. At the end, you made a point of calling on the PAOís rather than anybody else and there were people from the State Department there, members of the Commission, but your agenda was the public of the PAOís and was well taken.
Chris: I wish I had asked you to say something.
Marie Elena: Actually, there are two or three more points. There was Karen Hughes from the White House and she was right on target. Also it was good that somebody from the White House was thinking of public diplomacy. Then there was Tom Friedman and . . . The dialog between them Ė I remember Tom Friedman said, "This is the biggest story of my life time as a columnist and journalist". There were so many tips that they exchanged. The Arab journalist was extremely well informed. He was a historian, which is interesting, because we pay attention to anybodyís history, sometimes not even our own. Then there was somebody at the end, I think the public diplomacy seminar panel Ė and Barry Fulton. . .
Harold: Do you share an ethnic background with . . .
Marie Elena: Well, Walter was claiming him yesterday because his parents were born there but he grew up in Little Havana. But anyway, it was a fabulous event and I really am proud of what you did and happy that I sat there. Now, I can see through your themes and just the presentation you make here that this is going somewhere.
Chris: Just to add a couple of points. The real point of the ad, and you touched upon it Ė this jaguar Ė was to demonstrate this: Beyond the dry words, there is emotion. And if you are selling products or trying to convey policy, you have to take into account the emotional background, both among those you are addressing and among those whom you represent. One my tasks after September 11 in the face of strong emotions in the Middle East about what we were doing was to bring into focus all the emotions we were feeling. So it is a two-way street.
Now with reference to collaborating with the private sector which, of course, the Undersecretary is keenly interested in, the first thing that happens when you say private sector in this building and in most of government is that all the lawyers come out. . .
Harold: Thatís not bad.
Chris: They are there to protect you. It is amazing to me, not really having attempted this before, to see how much legislation, how many regulations constrain the government from dealing with the private section. It is amazing. So, thatís one factor that we are going to have to deal with. And Harold, itís not the lawyerís fault Ė it is the fault of those who wrote all these things.
Finally, to summarize what flowed out of this conference, we have worked very hard to go through all the sessions and pull out all of the action items we could find, and we have been engaged in a process of priortizing them to see what we could move forward with and what would have to wait until later. But, we are very consciously organizing to implement what can be implemented.
Harold: Thank you, and thank you Graham. Weíve got a couple more reports than we will go back to you, Maria Elena on the youth stuff.
Marie Elena: No, if you have a couple of minutes, both of you, there were two things that happened in the past week that were public diplomacy issues that just fell in
my plate and I did them. One was the Voice of America called me a couple of days before this program was to take place. It was the day after the President went to Miami and a couple of days before Carter left Cuba. They wanted to talk about the Project Valela ? which is the signatures that the dissidents are getting to ask, I think, for elections. So on the line were some of the dissidents, actually the key dissidents in Cuba, and then Steve Johnson from the Heritage Foundation was also there. It was fascinating how the Cubans said, "we have heard from two Presidents talking about Cuba in the same week." And how President Carter was received. Well, he spent a week there. Castro trusted him enough that he gave him unrestricted access to the airways. He talked in Spanish so the audience; the people listening to the program were many, many. As a result, things that were happening in the island after the Valela project that many people did not know anything about, now they are asking how to go Ė they are contacting the dissidents to be able to sign. So again, this is a public diplomacy issue, going well. And if you look at the two Presidentsí statements, they both said Cuba must do A, B, C and D. The only thing that Castro was, ? , and I worked for the man (Carter). He is humble, has very thoughtful ways. But anyway, then the fact that President Bush went to Miami to what could have been perceived by the Cubans as a hostile audience just carried some misunderstanding. What the question was, how is Cuba being received or talked about in the U.S. these days. They want to know. I said, look, unfortunately you donít make the new or headlines here until we have a disaster in Cuba like Guantanamo or the shooting of the pilots or Elian. But I have to say that the fact that you were in the mouth of two Presidents in the last few weeks got you some headlines.
The other thing was the Council of Foreign Relations request talking about Latin America and the awful time that Argentina is having, Venezuela, etc. and the fact that in my thinking there is a very tired political elite in that region of the world. It is always the same. They keep recycling themselves. I talked about a program that AID sponsored in Latin America through President Reagan. He appointed a blue ribbon commission to study the Central American Region. The Sadanestas were having troubles, Nicaragua was having trouble, there was San Salvador going through turmoil, Guatemala where the Juntas were killing people right and left. What AID did with an appropriation from the Congress was to bring thousands of men and women 17 to 19-20 and place them in colleges/universities throughout the United States, not in big capitals, not in the cities but out in rural communities, in Maine, in Oregon, and part of the program was something called Experience America. And if you look at Central America today, and this has been 10-15 years ago, there are no problems in Central America. So they asked me to write a piece about it. I did. Again, if that can be helpful to you, it can be implemented anywhere in the world.
Harold: Thank you both for coming here. You are welcome to stay but I know you have other things to do. We have 20 minutes left and can move on to the other things on our agenda. Thanks very much for coming here. I should also say about Ambassador Ross that he was a classmate of Bill Bradleyís and it is always great to see him famous with that group! (Chris: Bill was taller than I am). Harold: Why donít we then move to diplomacy legislation and maybe you can give us an update, Chuck.
Charles Dolan: I will be brief but I think that the great news is in terms of the Hill, public diplomacy is back in a big way as we just heard from the Ambassador about how the Hill is actually interested in adding more funds. They have added more funds. One thing that was interesting, I think, at the PAO Symposium that was coordinated by the Undersecretary of Public Diplomacy, Charlotte Beres, was that both Chairman Hyde and Congressman Lantos came and spoke to the PAOís and received a standing ovation. While they were there, they basically said that the most effective means of preventing future military problems for the United States could be public diplomacy. Putting it all in perspective, when the end of the Cold War came, people started saying why do we still need the U.S. Information Agency and the whole business of public diplomacy Ė we have won the Cold War. That was exacerbated when consolidation between the U.S. Information Agency and the State Department have to the point where staffers on the Hill felt like the function had ceased to exist at all. I think all that changed after September 11. There is real recognition both in this administration and up on the Hill for the need for public diplomacy. Under Chairman Hydeís leadership with Minority Leader on the committee, Lantos, the amended version of 3969 will strengthen the oversight of this commission and give it additional power, which is always an important thing to have in Washington . . .
Harold: And the GAO can cooperate with us. They are not mandated to in this bill but we can do things together if we wish.
Charles: And I will talk about some other things, but just let me say there are four things that this commission has been arguing for over the last eight years that I have been on it, which are in this bill: 1) Upgrades to the computer systems, the Internet functions and the satellite services, 2) requirements that make both public relations and public diplomacy to be a component of the ambassadorial functions, 3) a database of all exchange alumni, which we have been dealing with for years, and, of course, 4) the increase in funding which is very important for public diplomacy to be able to carry on its functions. So, I think the news is great for public diplomacy. They increased the funding for this year and they increased it for FY 2003, as well. Thatís basically what is in the bill that is important to us.
Harold: Are there any questions?
Walter: I think it is important to add that the Foreign Relations Committee of the United States Senate will hold hearings on public diplomacy on either June 10 or June 11. Another two bills were introduced, the Kennedy-Lugar Bill which deals directly with exchanges, and Senator Kay Bailey-Hutchison also introduced a bill on exchanges.
Charles: If and if I could say one thing, I think, Mr. Chairman, that the staff up on the Hill went through several of the reports that we wrote over the last years because a lot of the language is almost exactly the same as the language contained in those reports.
Harold: I think that is an interesting observation. If you look at the ten years that Ambassador Ross talked about as the desert years for public diplomacy when the Cold War ended and people felt there was no reason to worry or be concerned about what foreign publics thought and what their attitudes towards the United States were, that of course fits perfectly with the recent history of what has happened and how things are changing. Our reports, I think, were the only Ė except for the Council on Foreign Relations reports (CSIS report two years ago) but going way back to 1993 I think our reports were the only reports on public diplomacy. And we all know Mr. Dandridge has read them all but we also know not many people looked at them. When I went up to Princeton to speak, somebody said well, you know I read a lot of these speeches about public diplomacy now and I am just learning about it but I didnít know too much about it before. I said you wouldnít have read about it in a newspaper because there might have been one or two pieces in the newspapers, and we kept up with that stuff. From 1993 to about 2001, there might have been a couple of pieces on public diplomacy and what foreign publics thought of the United States. Of course, you all have been very heavy on the issue of lack of research. We spent five million dollars this year on research in the State Department, research of opinions in foreign countries, and we spent five million dollars eight or nine years ago, not a nickel more. So it has changed dramatically.
Matt, do you want to bring us up to date on anything?
Matt: I think so. You bring us to an interesting point here because it does lead us to the next proposal for the Commissionís next study, a brief study on how the State Department and how the U.S. Government is in general communicating with youth populations across the globe. So how are we doing this? Right now, there are not a heck of lot of resources dedicated to the effort, and as any good advertiser will tell you, it is a coveted market and we donít have a lot of exchanges dedicated to that age group. The first real effort to reach them through broadcasting, obviously, is the Middle East radio network, Radio Sawa. So what we are going to do is take an audit of all the things that the State Department does, that any entity in the U.S. Government does to communicate with young people and examine how effective those programs are, then also make recommendations on new methods and possibly upgrade through those current systems.
Harold: So I think that at our next meeting we will have to determine the date meeting in June. We have normally done this in the third week of the month and I think we will probably have Matt call Commissioners on the phone to see what the available dates are. But, we ought to talk more about this because I know Walter has some ideas on another report beyond that, Matt, and maybe the two of you can get together and talk it.
The Council on Foreign Relations report which will be a massive one on this issue of public diplomacy should be coming out next month, isnít that right Walter? Next week. As you all know, we have been active in working with them. It is in draft form right now so we canít tell you what the final report will say.
Matt: David Mory did call this morning to talk to you and congratulate us on the hard work that has been put forth.
Harold: David Mory, who chaired a portion of the task force for the Council on Foreign Relations Ė we have worked very closely with David, and I know he called this morning and he called me last week in my office to tell me how much he appreciated what the commission did in participating with the task force in putting the report together. A lot of it is theirs, some of it is ours and we certainly like our part. We will see how it all comes out. I will say that in this part, like the Hyde-Lantos Bill, the Council on Foreign Relations, at least its draft report, talked about this Commission and the need to utilize the commission.
Charles: Mr. Chairman, before we break, and I donít suggest we vote on this now but something to think about for the next meeting on the agenda, it might be interesting to get a few people from the Coalition Information Center because that is one aspect of this public diplomacy effort that we have not talked to anybody from. I think the way their schedules are, probably the sooner we let them know if they are interested the better.
Harold: I think that is a very good idea. And if we can get Bruce Gregory to come at the same time since he was involved in setting them up and worked with them, that, I think, would be very important.
Harold: Any question? Any questions from anyone joining us this morning? If not, we appreciate your being here. You all have Mattís number if you have questions you want to pose to him, and we look forward to seeing many of you at our next commission meeting which will probably be in late June.
The meeting is adjourned.