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[] Foreign Affairs, March/April 2002, David Hoffman: WEAPONS OF MASS COMMUNICATION,

                     by David Hoffman
                     From Foreign Affairs, March/April 2002

                     500-word preview

                     David Hoffman is President of Internews Network.


                     "How can a man in a cave outcommunicate the world's
                     communications society?" This question, plaintively
posed by long-time
                     U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke, has been puzzling
many Americans.
                     Osama bin Laden apparently still enjoys widespread
public approval in
                     the Muslim world (witness the skepticism in many
Muslim countries
                     toward the videotaped bin Laden "confession"
released by the White
                     House in December). Indeed, the world's superpower
is losing the
                     propaganda war.

                     "Winning the hearts and minds" of Arab and Muslim
populations has
                     quite understandably risen to the top of the Bush
administration's agenda.
                     Military operations abroad and new security
measures at home do
                     nothing to address the virulent anti-Americanism of

                     government-supported media, mullahs, and madrassas
(Islamic schools).
                     Moreover, as the Israelis have discovered,
terrorism thrives on a cruel
                     paradox: The more force is used to retaliate, the
more fuel is added to
                     the terrorists' cause.

                     But slick marketing techniques and legions of U.S.
spokespersons on
                     satellite television will not be sufficient to stem
the tide of xenophobia
                     sweeping through the Islamic world. When
antiterrorist ads produced by
                     the U.S. government were shown recently to focus
groups in Jordan, the
                     majority of respondents were simply puzzled,
protesting, "But bin Laden
                     is a holy man." The widespread antagonism to U.S.
regional policies
                     themselves further limits what public diplomacy can
achieve. Until these
                     policies are addressed, argues American
University's R. S. Zaharna,
                     "American efforts to intensify its message are more
likely to hurt than

                     As the United States adds weapons of mass
communication to weapons
                     of war, therefore, it must also take on the more
important job of
                     supporting indigenous open media, democracy, and
civil society in the
                     Muslim world. Even though many Muslims disagree
with U.S. foreign
                     policy, particularly toward the Middle East, they
yearn for freedom of
                     speech and access to information. U.S. national
security is enhanced to
                     the degree that other nations share these freedoms.
And it is endangered
                     by nations that practice propaganda, encourage
their media to spew
                     hatred, and deny freedom of expression.

                     TERROR, LIES, AND VIDEOTAPE

                     Washington's immediate response to the attacks of
September 11 was to
                     try to figure out how best to spin its message. The
chair of the House
                     International Relations Committee, Henry Hyde
(R.-Ill.), called for the
                     State Department to consult "those in the private
sector whose careers
                     have focused on images both here and around the
world." As a result,
                     former advertising executive Charlotte Beers has
been appointed
                     undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and
public affairs, and even
                     the Pentagon has hired a strategic communications
firm to advise it.

                     Once the stepchild of diplomats, public diplomacy
has only recently
                     taken its rightful place at the table of national
security. The
                     communications revolution has made diplomacy more
public, exposing
                     the once-secret work of diplomats to the global
fishbowl of life in the
                     twenty-first century. Moreover, the cast of actors
in international affairs
                     now includes nongovernmental organizations,
businesses, lobbyists,
                     journalists, and Internet activists. In an era of
mass . . .


Olivier Minkwitz___________________________________________
Dipl. Pol., wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter
HSFK Hessische Stiftung für Friedens- und Konfliktforschung
PRIF Peace Research Institute Frankfurt
Leimenrode 29 60322 Frankfurt a/M Germany
Tel +49 (0)69 9591 0422  Fax +49 (0)69 5584 81
Mobil   0172  3196 006
minkwitz -!
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