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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is spending a few days in Pakistan, ostensibly to build up trust.
Alex Rodriguez recently wrote an excellent page-one piece in the Los Angeles Times, examining broad distrust among Pakistanis regarding the United States’ plans to expand its well-fortified embassy in Islamabad.
How do you perform public diplomacy effectively in the Age of Drama Queens?
It’s a special challenge if you’re Judith McHale, the State Department’s new Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy, with a special charge to rebuild America’s image in the Muslim world, especially in places such as Pakistan.
One of the mysteries of our day is that American hard power has been so ineffective for so many years in apprehending Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri), leaving the group free to use public diplomacy to speak to Muslim publics — especially to a Pakistani nation that distrusts the United States.
An unyielding belief in strength over suppleness — constantly deploying the full force of both the sword and the mouth — may lie at the core of that old warrior Sen. John McCain's criticism that President Obama has been too passive in reacting to Iranian protests against that country's controversial elections.
Some early analyses of President Obama's historic address to the Muslim world in Cairo today have noted that some of Obama's professions of unity with the Muslim world merely echo words President Bush said after 9/11. The implication is that deeds, not words, matter.
The nascent Obama era has captured the imagination of people everywhere who believe that the foundational aspects of international relations involve human, not economic, interests, and that those interests involve healthy dialogue. That has led to a pushback from those who suspect that Obama is, well, a wimp.
The more things stay the same, the more they change.
An American president traveled to Iraq to praise American soldiers for giving that nation time to stand on its own feet. He told Muslims that the United States respected their religion. He expressed his commitment to an American military presence in Afghanistan. And he refused to back down from regularly violating Pakistani sovereignty as he fights anti-American forces there.
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