American University in Cairo
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We live in a world where dominance is no longer achieved by military power alone, but rather through the power of the word. This is why many countries today concentrate on public diplomacy “soft power "to reach world supremacy.
USA is no exception to the rule. As a matter of fact, USA’s zealous public diplomacy efforts have recently come under heavy scrutiny and skepticism of its goals and effectiveness.
Generally, the goals of public diplomacy is to understand, inform, and influence foreign audiences, through exchanges, information activities, cultural programs, media research & polling and support for NGOs (Smyth, 2001, p.422). Public diplomacy’s ultimate goal is to directly influence citizens of foreign countries, so that they would in-turn influence their governments (Gilboa, 2001, p. 4).
Public diplomacy is effective when performed through a multitude of forums. It may be performed through the media (media diplomacy), cultural activities (cultural diplomacy) the internet (noosphere diplomacy) or through Non-Governmental organizations NGOs (noopolitik diplomacy) (Smyth, 2001).
This paper will attempt to explore the history and development of US public diplomacy until modern day, shedding light on its tools and techniques. More importantly, it will attempt to assess its performance today in one of its biggest challenges: improving US’s image in the Middle East.
The history of US public diplomacy goes as far back as the founding fathers of the United States. Benjamin Franklin overstepped the British and French courts and governments, and traveled to London and Paris to present his country’s case to the British and French people (Bardos, 2001, p. 426). He published documents, articles and essays under his name, as well as various aliases in British newspapers, to give the impression that many groups sympathized with the American colonies (Napoli, 2004). He also encouraged sympathetic British writers to write about the American case, and produced pamphlets and brochures for distribution abroad (Napoli, 2004). Thomas Jefferson wrote notes and letters to inform “literate Frenchmen about his country” (Bardos, 2001, p. 426).
A big turning point in US public diplomacy came in world war II (WWII). To counter German Nazi propaganda and psychological warfare, President Wilson created the Committee on Public Information headed by journalist George Creel (Napoli, 2004). Part of the committee’s work was to publish warrelated articles in papers, create publications and outdoor posters & advertisements about the war (Napoli, 2004).
In February 1942 the Voice of America started its first broadcasts to Europe to “spread the gospel of democracy” (Napoli, 2004). VOA would eventually broadcast in 45 languages, to more than 100 million people all over the world (Bardos, 2001, p. 428). It would act as a surrogate source of news and information to many peoples held captive by their own dictatorial government (Bardos, 2001, p. 4258). VOA still survives today broadcasting news, music and other shows (Bardos, 2001, p. 428).
In June 1942, USA created the Office of War Information OWI, the first effort towards institutionalizing propaganda and public diplomacy (Napoli, 2004). The OWI was responsible for psychological warfare during WWII (Napoli, 2004).
In 1948, the Smith Lundt Act (the US Information and Education Exchange Act) was passed by congress. The Act prohibited the dissemination of propagandistic material designed for overseas distribution, within the United States (Napoli, 2004). The reason was a fear of a replica of Nazi “Ministry of Truth” that propagated lies and misinformation on the home front (Adelman, 2001, p.914).
In 1953 the United States Information Agency (USIA), known oversees as the United States Information Service (USIS), was created in an effort to counter Communist propaganda (Stevenson, 1994, p. 348). Its purpose was to fight “for the hearts and minds” of peoples all over the world against the threat of communism (Bardos, 2001, p. 425). Its slogan was “Telling America’s Story to the World” (Bardos, 2001, p. 427). Its goal was “to help achieve United States foreign policy objectives” (Bardos, 2001, p. 427). ). In every American diplomatic and counselor post all over the world, there was a USIS officer(s) (Bardos, 2001, p. 425).
From 1953 until 1989, the US engaged in an aggressive propaganda battle with the USSR that involved everything from exchange programs to clandestine radio (Napoli, 2004). It was often dubbed the “evil empire” in President Reagan’s speeches (Lord, 1998, p.61). In this campaign the US always focused on USSR’s weaknesses in areas like human rights and freedom of the press (Napoli, 2004).
USIS was successful in winning the cold war. Unfortunately, after the end of the cold war the funding for public diplomacy fell sharply, as the US started feeling it did not need public diplomacy anymore (Laqueur, 1994, p.20). With the fall of the “red menace” the US felt it was safe again (Napoli, 2004). Finally, an under-funded and weakened USIS was finally dismantled on the 1st of October 1999 and placed under the Department of State (Johnson, 2004).
Structure A) Information Information dissemination is an important part of public diplomacy. The truth is often the best defence against allegations and attacks. Thus, US had regularly issued magazines, publications and press statements to disseminate information about it to the world.
After the dismantling of the USIS, the component for information was placed under the State Department’s International Information Programs IIP. IIP disseminates information through US embassies around the world as well as the internet, for dissemination to international audiences (Smyth, 2001, p. 427). It is a powerful advocacy platform (Smyth, 2001, p.422). IIP is responsible for websites, speaker programs, magazines and other media products (Rugh, 2004, 14).
More importantly, IIP is responsible for the wireless “file”. The “file” is a daily update of all American official statements and stances on global events The file is sent to embassies abroad which in turn publish it on websites, each according to the regional language (Rugh, 2004, p.140). These languages include Arabic, English, Farsi (Persian), Chinese, French and Russian (Rugh, 2004, p.139). More importantly, the embassies further distribute the file’s content to other linked websites, as well as communicate it to local press and media (Rugh, 2004, p.141- 3 ).
The IIP also maintains a publications office that produces books, pamphlets, reports, posters and exhibits (Rugh, 2004, p.143). Furthermore, it maintains an “Arabic book program” that translates American literature into Arabic, through its offices in both Cairo and Amman (Rugh, 2004, p.145). IIP also publishes magazines directed at foreign readers (Rugh, 2004, p.146), such as “Hi” magazine.
B) Broadcasting The US created many broadcasting services to reach world audiences. Its first service was the afore-mentioned Voice of America (VOA), which continues to broadcast in 48 languages to 100 million people all over the world (Bardos, 2001, p. 428). Other services were added such as Worldnet Television, an international 24/7-television service. Other directed services included Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe, which were directed at Europe and USSR in the Communist era (Stevenson, 1994, p.355). Also, Radio & Television Marti directed at Cuba were launched in 1985 and 1990 respectively, to provide uncensored information to the Cubans (McPhail, 2002, p.138). More recently, Radio Free Asia and Radio Free Iraq which was active during the 2002 Gulf war (Gilboa, 2001, p.5).
US public diplomacy was successful at many critical political moments. For instance, in 1950 RWR, a USIS radio network in Vienna protected Vienna from falling into Communism (Bardos, 2001, p. 430). A USIS documentary helped in resolving conflicts with Morocco and signing of an important agreement (Bardos, 2001, p. 430). In 1989, the VOA broadcasts resulted in the Tianmen Square events (Bardos, 2001, p. 430). American public diplomacy during the first Gulf War in 1991 was successful in winning the hearts and minds (McNamara, 1991, p.140).
After USIS’s merger into the State Department all international broadcasting service was placed under an independent Broadcasting Board of Governors BBG (Johnson, 2004). BBG is an independent and autonomous agency, whose mission is to ensure and safeguard the integrity, quality and effectiveness of international broadcasts (Mobarak, 2004, p.59). Currently, broadcasting represents around 50% of all public spending on public diplomacy (Djerejian, 2003, p.32).
C) Cultural Diplomacy An equally important instrument in public diplomacy is “cultural diplomacy”, considered the most effective form of “soft diplomacy” (Rugh, 2004, p.111 & 113). USIS was particularly active in this field which included American libraries and cultural centers, that featured a variety of books, films and hosted expert speakers from all walks of life (Bardos, 2001, p. 430). It also included cultural presentations, book translations, news services, English language programs and publications (Rugh, 2004, p.111). It also included conferences and academic journals (Smyth, 2001, p.437 & 439).
An integral part of cultural diplomacy, - some argue the most important-, is Educational and cultural exchanges. The importance of these exchanges is that they provide a “personal experience” and leave a long term lasting effect (Russell, 2005, p.6). More importantly, many of the exchange participants eventually assume leadership positions in their countries or act as “agents of change” there (Ross, 2002, p. 76).
Perhaps one of the most important and well-known American exchange programs is the Fullbright program. The idea for it was generated by Senator William Fulbright of Arkansas, who suggested its initiation and finance from sales of surplus US military property (Bardos, 2001, p. 429). Today, the Fulbright program still stands strong with more than 60,000 American and 200, 000 foreign alumnus (Bardos, 2001, p. 429).
However, the Fullbright program is not the only exchange program, many more have been generated throughout the years. Some of these are the International Visitors Program, the Citizen Exchange Programs, English Language Programs, Cultural Programs, Educational Advising, Humphrey Fellowships and College and University Affiliation programs (Smyth, 2001, p.433). Since the 1940s, the US sponsored around 750,000 people in exchange programs (Rugh, 2004, p.112). Unfortunately however, this important domain dropped from 45000 persons a year in 1995 to 29000 persons in 2001 (Djerejian, 2003, p.46).
With the merger of USIS into the Department of State, Cultural and Exchange programs were placed under the Educational and Cultural Affairs office (Rugh, 2004, 14). They continued to be an important part of US public diplomacy, although their funding has been drastically reduced. State department’s exchanges with Egypt, Saudi and Yemen fell 21% (Peterson, 2002, p.92). As populations in Muslim countries increased by around 16%, investment in cultural programs with the middle east per capita decreased by more than 33% (Peterson, 2002, p.92).
Following 9/ 11 ample research was conducted to answer a question posed by most Americans “why do they hate us?” Research showed that, despite Arab frustration with the US’s government and politics, most Arabs continue to admire some of the US values such as education and arts (Hoffman, 2002, p.88). They admire its freedom of expression, the multi-party system and treatment under the law (Pew Research Center). For instance, while 59% of Lebanese hold a poor opinion of the US, on the other hand 65% like American movies, music and television (Pew Research Center). They admire US technology, entrepreneual zeal, educational system, political freedom, personal achievement (Djerejian, 2003, p.24). In fact a lot of Arabs reportedly say “we like Americans but not the American government”, (Djerejian, 2003, p.24; Rugh, 2004, p.19).
Based upon the results of world polls, the “shared values campaign” was launched in November to December 2002 (Rugh, 2004, p.152) The $15 million campaign took the form of print and TV advertisements or mini-documentaries (Fakhreddine, 2003). It featured a veiled Arab American Muslim lady, saying that she enjoyed total religious freedom in the US and that she and her family were not harmed in anyway after 9/11 (Fakhreddine, 2003).
Unfortunately, the campaign was not successful, as it was banned from several Arab countries (Napoli, 2004). Although it was viewed by around 288 million people, it was largely dismissed as simplistic naïve propaganda (Johnson, 2004).
Then, the USA carried out its war against terrorism which angered all Arabs and Muslims, as they perceived it as a war against Islam (Rugh, 2004, 20). What added salt to the wound was President Bush’s negative media diplomacy using words such as “crusade” which has very negative connotations in the Muslim world, and “axis of evil” which was met with cynicism (Peterson, 2003, p.26).
However, there have also been positive changes, such as the establishment of two Arabic broadcast services directed at the Arab and Muslim world; namely, Radio Sawa that targets youths and Al-Hurra television channel (which later added a special service called Al-Hurra Iraq). Furthermore, an Arabic youth magazine called “Hi” was also published.
Furthermore, an Office of Global Communications was established, an Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy was appointed and an Office of Policy, Planning and Resources for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs is currently being set (Peterson, 2003, p.20) (Harrison, 2004). Karen Hughes was appointed as an Undersecretary of Public Diplomacy, and the young Egyptian-born Dina Powell, was appointed as her Deputy (Feldmann, 2005).
Since 9/11 the number of Arabic pages produced for the “Washington file” and published on the USINFO site http://usinfo.state.gov has increased by around four folds (Harrison, 2004). Furthermore, the USINFO site is now linked to more than 470 other Arabic sites (Harrison, 2004). As importantly, the number of Arabic translators has now increased by 30% (Harrison, 2004). Today around 3100 people from around the world daily view the “Washington file” and more than 1200 Arabic speakers have signed up to receive the daily updates (Harrison, 2004).
Furthermore, USA tried to follow the youth directed interactive diplomacy. In February 2002, Secretary of State Colin Powell held an international interactive forum on MTV, through which he answered questions of youths from 146 countries (Peterson, 2002, p.83).
The youths are now the predominant focus of cultural diplomacy programs, the funding of which has increased by a 25% since 9/11 (Harrison, 2004). The themes of cultural diplomacy now focus on “religious tolerance, ethnic diversity, the value of independent media, NGO management, civil society and governance, elections and educational reform in the Muslim world” (Harrison, 2004).
New cultural diplomacy programs were added, such as CultureConnect, a program that appoints prominent Americans as cultural ambassadors oversees (Harrison, 2004). Similarly, the Citizen Diplomats initiative was launched, a program that sends regular Americans oversees (Harrison, 2004). Furthermore, emphasis was added on tours and exchanges of journalists (Harrison, 2004).
New cultural and educational exchange programs were added, such as the Youth Exchange and Study (YES), an exchange program with the Middle East, North Africa and Indonesian high-school students (Rugh, 2004, p.118). Another program was the Partnerships for Learning Undergraduate Study Program (PLUS), which sponsors non-elite students from public schools in the Muslim world to study at Universities in America (Rugh, 2004, p.118). Existing programs added new components, such as the Fullbright’s Arabic language and the Islamic Civilization components (Rugh, 2004, p.117). The first government sponsored high-school exchange program with the Arab and Muslim world began in 2003 (Harrison, 2004).
Since 2002 over $40 million have been dedicated to educational partnership programs with the Arab world, and another $25 million were requested for 2005 (Rugh, 2004, p.117). US$ 3.1 million were directed to fund a micro-scholarship for teaching English language to 3400 underprivileged Arab and Muslim youths (Harrison, 2004).
The “noosphere” is playing an important role in US public diplomacy today, to reach maximum audience, particularly youths (Smyth, 2001, 444). That is the case with Hi, Sawa and Hurra, all of which maintain active websites, in which readers are encouraged to register their opinions and questions. Furthermore, all three sites are customized to middle eastern audiences both in terms of language and topics discussed. Other interactive IIP sites also exist.
The “noopolitik” is also playing an integral part in US public diplomacy, as US is currently working with 1500 organizations worldwide to improve life in other countries, as well as its own image (Harrison, 2004). In this field, many US NGOs such the US Chamber of Commerce Center for Corporate Citizenship, the Business Roundtable, the National Foreign Trade Council, the Business for Diplomatic Action, Council on Competitiveness and the Young Entrepreneur Organization, have been particularly active. Examples are US cooperation with the International Wheelchair foundation to donate thousands of wheelchairs to Arab countries (Harrison, 2004). According to US Public Affairs Counselor in Egypt James Bullock, the “embassy acts as a matchmaker between the US government and Egyptian NGOs, but we do not go on the honey-moon,” meaning that the embassy does not meddle into the NGOs’ affairs (Bullock, 2005).
According to Shibley Telhami, for most of the 20th century America was seen as champion of freedom (Rugh, 2004, p.4). However, this view started changing with the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, in which USA supported Israel against the Arabs (Rugh, 2004, 5).’s continuous support of Israel throughout the Arab – Israeli conflict, has antagonized Arabs and Muslims everywhere (Rugh, 2004b). Its attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan added more salt to the wound, as they were perceived as another step in its war against Islam and Arabs (Rugh, 2004, 5). Today, USA’s image has completely metamorphosed to become the oppressor of freedoms.
This was indicated by the opinion polls conducted worldwide before and after the Iraqi war. In Indonesia, the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, 61% of the country viewed US favorably in 2002, compared to only 15% in 2003 (Djerejian, 2003, p.19). In Turkey - a secular Muslim country, a NATO member and a US ally - favorable opinion of US dropped from 52% in 2000 to 15% in 2003. In Saudi, 49% had a very unfavorable view of the US, while only 7% had a very favorable view of it (Djerejian, 2003, p.19). In Jordan, US favorability dropped from 25% in 2002 to 1% in 2003. In Egypt, the second largest US aid recipient, less than 6 % held a favorable view of the US (Djerejian, 2003, p.19).
Furthermore, in March 2004, research conducted by the Pew Research Center showed that Osama bin Laden was viewed favorably by 65% of Pakistanis, 55% of Jordanians, and 45% of Moroccans (Rugh, 2004, p.23). Statistics have shown that 70% of Arabs do not believe Muslims carried out the September 11 attacks. Most importantly, that US is at war with Islam, and that it only attacked Iraq to exploit its oil and to further Israeli interests in the region (Peterson, 2003, p.21).
The Independent Task Force sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations found that several public diplomacy mistakes have led to the growing anti-American sentiment. American politics did not take into account their effect on people’s perceptions of US. The US had failed to utilize NGOs and American celebrities. US foreign policy is communicated in “push-down” style rather than dialogue, contrary to its own advocated values of democracy. Finally, too few resources are allocated to public diplomacy. Furthermore, a report for the Public Diplomacy Council, in 2005, stated that one of the major problems facing US, is that expertise in public diplomacy is only sought after the crisis had already set in and not while drafting the laws (Russel, 2005, p.3).
In the past, the US government allied itself with authoritarian governments in the region, through traditional diplomacy, and expected them to bring their peoples along (Rugh, 2004, 7). This is why US was disliked and viewed as hypocritical by Arab citizens, as it talks about democracy and freedom but supports authoritarian regimes.
The straw that broke the donkey’s back was the Iraq war, in which Arab governments joined the US in its war on Iraq, against their citizens’ opposition (Rugh, 2004, 8). This led to further anti-American sentiment, which manifested itself in aggressive riots and wall graffiti. These strong sentiments were beyond governments’ control, especially that their control had already been undermined by global communications (Rugh, 2004, 8). Afraid of being overthrown, governments like Saudi and Egypt allowed for backlashing of America in local media, to let out steam, give a false sense of democracy and dissociate themselves from their American allies (Hoffman, 2002, p.86).
Other reasons for the anti-American sentiment may include envy, anger and mistrust, particularly as many see it as the catalyst behind globalization (Peterson, 2002, p.76). Skepticism of America’s intentions, the belief it has a hidden agenda are the basic tenants of the conspiracy theory held by many Arabs and Muslims (Nisf El Dunnia, 2002, p.39). Furthermore, a very negative stereotype of American morality exists due to American cinema and television content (Djerejian, 2003, p. 21).
Some claim that the anti-American sentiment is an inevitable clash of civilizations, as Muslims had spent around a thousand years in holy war trying to secure the boarders of the Muslim empire. Of course the proponents of this view claim that it is too deeply rooted in culture and religion to change (Miller, 2005). Others argue that the sentiment is not so deep as it is only resultant from clash of interests rather than a clash of civilizations (Miller, 2005).
One of the reasons for the anti-American sentiment is that during the cold war, public diplomacy with Arabs was largely ignored. Public diplomacy should be a continuous effort (Rugh, 2004, 7). Disengaging from public diplomacy at any point in time may mean more than returning to the zero point.
Before going any further, a distinction must be stressed. Although Arabs resent the US government they do not resent its people (Galal, 2004)(Siyasa Kharegeya, 2004). “The correct question should be: why do they hate the American policies? Because no one hates the American people”, (Fathy, 2002).
According to William Rugh, Three factors have hampered American public diplomacy: increased security measures, decreased funding and the merger of USIA into the Department of State (Rugh, 2004, p.156).
The extremist security measures at US embassies in Arab and Muslim countries makes it difficult for locals to access libraries or meet with staff (Rugh, 2004, p.44). In an interview, US Cultural Affairs Counselor James Bullock said he often had to go out on the street to meet guests or visitors who forgot to bring proper identification. “It is difficult to address the world from a fortress,” he said.
Funding is a serious problem facing American public diplomacy. Funding for public diplomacy is three tenths of 1% of the annual Defense Department budget (Djerejian, 2003, p.25). Thus, exchange programs dropped from 45000 persons a year in 1995 to 29000 persons in 2001 (Djerejian, 2003, p.46). Furthermore, the little that is left is deficient to cover disbursement of staff salaries, who although understaffed are also underpaid, and do not receive adequate training as well as lack the necessary skills, such as languages (Djerejian, 2003, p.26 -27).
In USIS days the PAO had at his/ her disposal ample staff and resources, which enabled him to transcend and interact with society, particularly that the best medium of communication in the Arab world is face-to-face communication (Rugh, 2004, p.16). However, due to budget restraints the PAOs are short-staffed and therefore unable to manage their enormous work-loads, with no time for mingling and interacting in society to impress public opinion with more lasting influences (Bullock, 2005). The focus became short-term issues that guaranteed effective short-term results, rather than long-term cultural relationship building, whose fruits took longer.
Furthermore, structural changes that coincided with the merger of USIS into the State Department, have significantly affected the cultural and educational capacities. According to Kenton Keith, the role of the Public Affairs Officers in embassies played a very important cultural and informational role, prior to the merger of USIA into the state department (Rugh, 2004, p. 11). In the USIA days, the PAO was almost autonomous from the ambassador, reporting only to his USIA superiors back home and submitting an occasional report to the ambassador (Rugh, 2004, p.11). Now public diplomacy has become “Washington driven” rather than “field driven.”
William Rugh and his co-authors suggested the reuse of old public diplomacy campaigns (Rugh, 2004, p.152). He suggests the use of all public diplomacy instruments combined, and above all listening to Arabs and involvement in dialogue with them (Rugh, 2004, p.157).
Rugh and co-authors further suggest the expansion of public diplomacy in the Arab and Muslim worlds, the employment of a combination of diplomacy instruments, the use of local media channels, the preparation of PAOs and their staff to engage in dialogue with Arab audiences, the revival of American centers and libraries, the reinvigoration and expansion of exchange programs. This would be achieved through increasing PAOs numbers and autonomy, consolidation of public diplomacy management within the Department of State, revival of VOA’s Arabic service, the translation of more American books into Arabic, and the quadruplication of current public diplomacy budget to reach $ 4 billion.
According to Telhami, foreign policies must be changed, if not to please Arabs, then to better serve America’s interests, through improving its image in the Arab world (Rugh, 2004, p.8). The changing of American policies supporting Israel was suggested. Communications must be clear and take the intended audiences seriously (Rugh, 2004, p.9).
Aaron David Miller President of Seeds for Peace Organization, suggests that the most important US course of action is a change in policy on the Palestinian issue. “No other action we could take right now would do more to enhance US credibility, improve our image, and advance our regional interests (Miller, 2005).” Edmund Ghareeb, author and specialist on Middle East media agrees with him “unless the policy itself changes, I do not think [public diplomacy] is going to be very effective” (Mobarak, 2004, p.70). Egyptian Ambassador to the US Nabil Fahmy stated that US’s image problem in the middle east is 80% policies and 20% unheard messages (Fahmy, 2004).
The US did not try to listen to Arabs, but instead concentrated on changing their minds; thus its efforts were dismissed as “crude propaganda” (Napoli, 2004), because at the end of the day, it is not what you say that is important but what others hear (Ross, 2002, p. 77).
According to Fulton, four important factors must be taken into consideration when addressing the Arab and Islamic world: policy, perceptions, demographics and knowledge (Rugh, 2004, p.28). It must be understood that US interests will suffer if Arabs’ perceptions of US policies remain unchanged (Rugh, 2004, p.28). Also, the fact that around 50% of Arabs are under the age of 25, makes education a viable avenue for reaching them (Rugh, 2004, p.28). Thus, he suggests the availability of educational material over the internet as well as the encouragement of distance learning (Rugh, 2004, p.31). Furthermore, the encouragement of the pursuit of knowledge is of highest importance (Rugh, 2004, p.32).
The Council on Foreign Relations Task Force recommended the rethinking of foreign policies’ formulation, strategy and communication. It also recommended the building of new institutions to support public diplomacy. It also called for the improvement of public diplomacy through training of US ambassadors, expanding the range of US messengers abroad, fostering better relations with foreign journalists, and open channels of dialogue. Finally, it called for the improvement of funding of public diplomacy efforts.
The Djerejian report further recommended the cooperation with USAID, further study of Arab society, increase of scholarships, increase in public diplomacy staffing and increase of financial support for public diplomacy efforts (Djerejian, 2003, p.69 & 70).
The Public Diplomacy Council suggested the increase of public diplomacy staffing by 300%, with improvement of their training, as well as increasing the budget for cultural exchanges four folds. It also suggested the initiation of around the clock TV and internet services, particularly directed at youths. The Council also advocated the creation of an Interagency Committee on Public Diplomacy at the Cabinet levels. Furthermore, it recommended the creation of “Foundation for the Global Future” a public-private partnership to fund international exchanges (Russell, 2005, p.4).
Many further researches showed that US public diplomacy needs reorientation and further research (Djerejian, 2003, p.14). This needs transparency, and a new revised strategy, structure and programs, improved resources (Djerejian, 2003, p.17). Furthermore, the report suggested the development of concrete measurement indices for effectiveness of public diplomacy (Djerejian, 2003, p.37).
According to Fakhreddine, public diplomacy is not working because its association with the government makes it lose credibility; thus it should be replaced with civic diplomacy by NGOs (Fakhreddine, 2003). US has helped create many NGOs such as the Afghan Women’s Council (Peterson, 2002, p.78). Also, cooperation with independent Arab media networks should be encouraged (Peterson, 2002, p.88).
The internet or “noosphere” is largely untapped as a powerful enabler that allows ideas to cross borders freely, and thus helps develop cultures (Rugh, 2004, p.25). Research has shown that video-conferencing can help foster positive relationships amongst youths from different cultures, as their opinions and prejudices are not yet fully formed (Saleh, 2005). Internet can help locate and reach opinion leaders (Rugh, 2004, p.25). However, what remains most important is the message itself, as the internet is simply a platform (Rugh, 2004, p.23).
Peterson recommended that US develops a strategic coordinating framework; increase customized two-way dialogue rather then one-way push down communications; expand private sector involvement; improve the effectiveness of public diplomacy resources; and enlarge public diplomacy assets (Peterson, 2002, p.79).
Since public diplomacy cannot reach 100% of a population prioritization should be made (Peterson, 2002, p.89). Attention should be given to “the middle”, those who tend to be supportive or tolerant of the US’s values even if not its policies (Napoli, 2004). Extremists may be ignored since it is very difficult to change their stance (Peterson, 2002, p.88). US public diplomacy should target the young, who are the middle east’s fastest growing segment (Peterson, 2002, p.83). This is already the case with Hi that targets an audience aged 18 – 35, and Sawa that target audience aged under 30.
Furthermore, public diplomacy should capitalize on secular and moderate Islam (Peterson, 2002, p.83). It should stand by and encourage such movements in confronting the “hijack of Islam’s spiritual soul” (Peterson, 2002, p.83). It should underline the fact that Islam does not condone the murder of innocent civilians, and that U.S. is not waging a war on Muslims generally; but on those who killed Americans (Editor, 2002, p.78).
The messenger is often more important than the message (Editor, 2002, p.77). Thus, credible messengers should be deployed such as Muslim Sheikhs and Mullahs as well as Arab and Muslim celebrities from all walks of life, such as arts, academia, science and politics (Peterson, 2002, p.83). Or even beloved personalities such as Sesame Street characters (Peterson, 2002, p.87).
Messages that highlight the cultural overlaps between US and other countries should be crafted, in order to start a dialogue and to affect long-term public opinion (Peterson, 2002, p.84). Positive values to highlight are strength of family, religious faith, social safety nets, volunteerism, freedom of expression, education, economic prosperity, advancement in science and medicine (Peterson, 2002, p.85). The message should also be of relevance to the Arab layman, carrying solutions to everyday problems (Peterson, 2002, p.86).
The “humanizing the enemy technique was recommended by the Independent Task Force, when it recommended the dissemination of “stories of particular victims to convey the range of people killed in the 9/11 attacks—stress range of religions, races, income levels, etc ” (Editor, 2002, p.79).
Djerejian suggests an 80% increase in educational and exchange programs budgets and the cooperation and fostering of education in the Middle East (Djerejian, 2003, p.34). He also recommends the increase of American corners and centers as well as American libraries and speaker programs (Djerejian, 2003, p.35 –36). Also, English Teaching programs to facilitate communication and dialogue (Djerejian, 2003, p.50).
Egyptian Ambassador to the US Nabil Fahmy, suggested the establishment of American Studies programs in Egyptian universities, to allow Arab youths’ to learn about American history, culture and life. He also suggested the establishment of similar programs on Arab-Israeli issues in the US (Fahmy, 2004).
The merger of all broadcasting into one comprehensive multi-media global broadcaster, to reduce waste, overlap and competition between all the separate broadcasters, was suggested (Russell, 2005, p.9). Furthermore a 24/7 English language service must be added (Russell, 2005, p.8).
US public diplomacy efforts should not be reactive; in other words, not only address ongoing events, but also continue for long-term (Russell, 2005, p.11). Public diplomacy should be “field driven” not “Washington driven” (Russell, 2005, p.12).
Access to information, freedom of expression, and a voice for women and marginalized minorities are solutions to US image problems, and will shed light on the darkness out of which terrorism has emerged (Hoffman, 2002, p.95).