Thursday, August 11, 2005

Advice for Karen Hughes, Part CXXXIV


Soft Power author Joseph Nye's latest is "Diplomatic Mission" in the Boston Globe. While giving advice to Karen Hughes, he laments the relative paucity of State's public-diplomacy budget compared with Defense's:

While a recent Pew poll shows a slight improvement in America's image in Indonesia and Lebanon, large majorities in the Muslim world remain skeptical about the United States. The United States spends only a billion dollars a year on public diplomacy to get our message out, about the same as Britain or France, though it is five times larger. The nation spends 450 times more than that on our hard military power.
Nye hits all the usual PD buttons: increased visas for students from Muslim countries; more money for U.S. international broadcasting; technology to modernize Arab educational systems. But he also tasks Hughes with coordinating the soft and hard aspects of U.S. foreign policy, a job this Bush inner-circler is uniquely suited for even though Nye doesn't say it in so many words:

Even the best advertising cannot sell if the product is poor. Hughes will have to be able to coordinate the hard and soft power aspects of government policies. She will also have to work with the private and nonprofit sectors. To accomplish our objective of promoting democracy in the region, the United States must develop a long-term strategy of cultural and educational exchanges aimed at creating a richer and more open civil society in Middle Eastern countries.

The most effective spokesmen for the United States are often not Americans but local people who understand US virtues as well as its faults. ...

Much of the work of developing an open civil society can be promoted by corporations, foundations, universities, and other nonprofit organizations, as well as by governments. Companies and foundations can offer technology to help modernize Arab educational systems. US universities can establish more exchange programs for students and faculty. Foundations can support the development of institutions of US studies in Muslim countries or programs that enhance the professionalism of journalists. Private groups can promote the teaching of English and encourage student exchanges. The government can provide encouragement and financing but faces mistrust when it is directly involved.

Hughes will find that America's soft power is difficult to wield because government does not control all the levers. But only when the United States manages to combine this type of soft power with our hard power will it be successful in meeting the challenge of Jihadist terrorism.

And while we're on the subject: Has the new undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs arrived in D.C. yet? Please write and tell me of any sightings.

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