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Newly minted President Obama offered an address this morning that can be viewed on many layers. An inaugural address is primarily a message to Americans and secondarily a message to the governments and peoples of the world. But in 2009, more than in most years, this address is a message from Americans to a global village about what America is, what America seeks to be, and how America intends to work with that global village.
As Hillary Clinton said last week, "America cannot solve the most pressing problems on our own, and the world cannot solve them without America. "We must use what has been called 'smart power,' the full range of tools at our disposal," she said, embracing diplomatic, economic, military, political, legal and cultural strategies.
Quincy Jones's welcome appeal for the creation of an American cultural tsar has fascinating implications for the world of public diplomacy. Jones himself has been a figure in American cultural diplomacy from his early days as the manager for the Dizzy Gillespie band tours of the Middle East and Latin America in the late 1950s to his own work as a powerful international voice of American cultural creativity.
Today’s press conference by President Bush was his last and — by all appearances — his most unscripted. Here was the 43rd President at turns dismissive, angry, jocular, self-deprecating and defensive in describing his eight years in office. What stood out, however, in relation to America’s image, was Bush’s rambling, disputatious monologue when asked about America’s "moral standing:"
I think my son was disappointed at what he got this year. After opening his gifts, he started throwing shoes at me.”
-David Letterman, December 29th
Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy James Glassman gave a comprehensive overview of his vision for the next phase of United States public diplomacy during his talk in early December at the New America Foundation.
The much maligned Alhurra, the U.S. government's Arabic TV service, is now a "go-to" news channel in Iraq, one of the largest TV markets in the Middle East of more than 28 million population.
The Brookings Institution's report on its proposed USA-World Trust has unleashed a predictable torrent of criticism from the public diplomacy community. To be sure, not all of the commentary has been negative, but much of it has been. The critics are rehashing many of the same tired arguments that have been used to kill any ideas to deal with today's public diplomacy realities.
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