Thursday, September 01, 2005

A Dull Web Site—But Some Hopeful Signs from State

THE UNDER SECRETARY ANNOUNCES NEW INITIATIVES AND VISITS THE ISLAMIC SOCIETY'S CONVENTION IN CHICAGO.


The official Web site for the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs is a bit dull, with just six links to other internal PD/PA pages:

From the Under Secretary links to archival public testimony by Under Secretary Hughes and thematic predecessors like Charlotte Beers and Margaret Tutwiler, almost none of which is from 2005;

Office of Policy, Planning and Resources for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs describes what that office is mandated to do;

Bureau of Public Affairs links to State's public-affairs offices (the Press Relations Office, the broadcasting services, the Foreign Press Center and so on)

Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs has announcements about cultural and educational exchanges with other countries, most of which pre-date the tsunami disaster;

Bureau of International Information Programs describes "the principal international strategic communications entity for the foreign affairs community" and how Alexander Feldman tries to get the word out in "English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Persian, Russian, and Spanish"; and

Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy links to a description of the bipartisan panel that advises Under Secretary Hughes et al.

I should be more forgiving of State and the Under Secretary's office right now; by all accounts, Karen Hughes is on the equivalent of a listening tour—hearing out citizens, members of other agencies, her boss in the White House, and today the Islamic Society of North America at its Chicago convention. I suspect she is working hard to understand what she needs to do and how to do it.

While I may be frustrated at the lack of initiatives or position papers emanating from Hughes' office, she did promise "several initiatives next week" and has sent a message to U.S. envoys abroad urging them to mark 9/11 "humbly":

For example, she suggested that the ambassador to Egypt visit Sharm el Sheik, the Red Sea resort where attacks occurred this year.

Excellent interim move: Exactly when it is most tempting to remind the world of U.S. losses, Ambassador Francis Riccardione and his colleagues are being urged to visibly empathize with other countries' trials.

1 comment:

PHK said...

Paul: I agree the IIP page is lifeless, but I don't expect it to change anytime soon. Hughes appointment or not. It seems to me that the problem is foremost loss of credibility because under Bush all State products are simply a flack for administration policy. USIA was always a voice for the administration, but there were ways to inject other viewpoints that helped keep the materials credible. This window began to close with the merger. The Bush Administration has made it far worse.

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