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With U.S. elections little more than a month away, America's public diplomacy has been cast into the fray. By an odd coincidence, on the same day President Bush charged that a classified intelligence report on Iraq had been leaked to the New York Times to embarrass the administration leading up to the November elections, another news organization published an exclusive story regarding U.S. public diplomacy.
Here is more from those who played along with our fantasy of receiving a call from the president -- this or any president -- who then asks advice on how to improve America’s public diplomacy.
As President Theodore Roosevelt once observed, those who choose to go "in the arena" experience both "victory and defeat," and we have, each of us, had our share of the latter, but happily some of the former, so why not share our experiences for those now in the arena?
Ed. Note: Discover America Partnership Executive Director Geoff Freeman writes in response to Adam Clayton Powell III's post, "Man Bites Dog: International Visitors to U.S. Up for Second Straight Year."
We've all heard that there are lies, damn lies and statistics. Adam Clayton Powell's recent post on international travel patterns to the U.S. is the latest example – albeit no fault of Adam's.
JOHANNESBURG -- Regular readers of this blog no doubt saw the headlines last week expressing concern about the drop in the percentage of international travelers who head for the U.S.
In the Financial Times, for example, the headline on September 4 was "US tourism 'needs a warmer welcome.'" And there was this quote: “The image of the US is at an all-time low in many parts of the world.”
The public scolding took place right after the long Labor Day weekend, perhaps not to spoil anyone's vacation. Setting atop the office desks of those who manage the U.S. government's Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN) when they returned to work was a terse report on their failings. It was not that their charges, America’s Arabic-language Radio Sawa and TV Alhurra, were putting out inferior broadcasts. Rather, the folks in charge of those broadcasts were not running things like good bureaucrats. What exactly does that mean?
Is it any wonder that U.S. public diplomacy is on life support?
While perhaps the truest measure of our effectiveness around the globe and an essential tool for U.S. national interests long-term, public diplomacy is in deep trouble -- undervalued at home and under siege abroad. From Katrina to Iraq, our communication wounds are deep -- hostage to policies that are viewed as bankrupt in both their rhetoric and application.
Today's turbulent world is one in which Canada's traditional role as a middle power or broker of interests is needed more than ever. 50 years ago Canada led the world in diplomacy, with the exclamation point coming with (eventual) Prime Minister Lester Pearson's key role in the Suez Crisis. Pearson served as an honest broker and set the standard for generations of Canadian diplomats to follow. Significant reductions in Canada's presence in this area constitute a setback to the country's traditional role within NATO and the world in general.
Let's face it, America. We're having more than just a bad day.
No, this isn't malaise, but a serious condition brought on by prolonged exposure to really bad news.
Like everything else, it seems to date from Sept. 11, 2001, when we faced the unthinkable on our own shores. We've been reeling ever since, seeking answers and leadership and policies that work. But it's been a bitter harvest.
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