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[] Bush plant "Office of Global Communications",

Bush to Create Formal Office To Shape U.S. Image Abroad

By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 30, 2002; Page A01

The Bush White House has decided to transform what was a 
temporary effort to rebut Taliban disinformation about the Afghan 
war into a permanent, fully staffed "Office of Global 
Communications" to coordinate the administration's foreign policy 
message and supervise America's image abroad, according to 
senior officials.

The office, due to be up and running by fall, will allow the White 
House to exert more control over what has become one of the 
hottest areas of government and private-sector initiatives since 
Sept. 11. Known as "public diplomacy," it attempts to address the 
question President Bush posed in his speech to Congress the week 
after the terrorist attacks: "Why do they hate us?"

At the time, Bush was referring to the terrorists who attacked the 
World Trade Center and the Pentagon. "They hate our freedoms," 
he has repeatedly said since then. But as demonstrations, boycotts 
and other expressions of anti-Americanism have spread across the 
Islamic world and beyond, the question has taken on broader 
meaning -- and the need for a broader response.

A senior administration official said the goal of the office was not to 
supplant the State Department, which has primary responsibility for 
"telling America's story" overseas, or replace other agencies with 
international outreach functions. The office, he said, would add 
"thematic and strategic value," along with presidential clout, to their 

"If you were to ask people representing the government who travel, 
who serve overseas -- even leading Americans -- 'What does 
America want to say to people in the world? What are the top three 
points? What is the answer?' that has to come from the top," the 
official said.

Headed by a yet-to-be-named "counselor to the president," the office 
would expand many of the responsibilities of the White House 
Coalition Information Center, established shortly after the U.S. 
military campaign in Afghanistan began last fall.

High-ranking officials from here and Britain made scores of Arab 
media appearances in what the White House considers one of the 
most successful efforts to assure the Arab world that the United 
States has not launched a global anti-Muslim campaign. Even as it 
was booking guests on Qatar-based al-Jazeera, the White House 
Coalition Information Center was laying out a uniform, daily 
message to communicate across high- and low-tech media outlets. It 
is that level of management, undertaken quickly and effectively 
across the administration, that the White House thinks it will be able 
to continue.

The new office is the brainchild of senior Bush adviser Karen P. 
Hughes, architect of the administration's efforts to ensure a uniform 
message on domestic policy. Although Hughes returned to live in 
Texas early this month, officials said she will remain closely 
involved in the new operation.

Charlotte Beers, the advertising agency executive Bush appointed 
last year to the State Department's top public diplomacy job, said 
one of the September lessons still being learned "is that we can and 
should do more to educate, and influence the attitudes of, foreign 
audiences toward our country."

Graham E. Fuller, a former vice chairman of the CIA's National 
Intelligence Council and a longtime Near East analyst for the 
agency, said that during years of living and traveling in the Middle 
East, "I have never felt such an extraordinary gap between the two 
worlds. . . . Clearly, in a region where we desperately need friends 
and supporters, their number is dwindling, and we are increasingly 
on the defensive."

"How has this state of affairs come about?" House International 
Relations Committee Chairman Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.) said in a 
speech last month to the Council on Foreign Relations. "How is it 
that the country that invented Hollywood and Madison Avenue has 
allowed such a destructive and parodied image of itself to become 
the intellectual coin of the realm overseas?"

Hyde shares a widespread conviction that a major part of the 
problem has been poor salesmanship. In this view, the best way to 
fight a negative image is to increase the flow of positive information, 
using every tool at the United States' command, including the most 
modern information technology, student exchanges and placement 
of overseas American libraries.

Some critics question whether expanding and improving delivery will 
help if there is no change in the message. "If fundamental policies 
are seen to be flawed, a prettied-up package will not make a 
difference," Fuller told a recent meeting of the bipartisan U.S. 
Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.

The problem is particularly acute in the Middle East, he said, a part 
of the world where U.S. support for Israel and for non-democratic 
regimes are seen as fundamental tenets of wrongheaded American 
policy. "Immense interest in American culture" remains, along with 
approval of the U.S. political system and domestic freedoms, Fuller 
said. But he said "there is a sense of double standards" among Arab 
youth who say: " 'We want your political values. It is you we perceive 
as not applying them in any consistent way.' "

Through polling, focus groups and fact-finding missions, the 
administration has been exploring how to enhance the image of the 
United States.

Among the first ventures is Radio Sawa, a 24-hour U.S. government 
radio station that began broadcasting to the Arab world last spring. A 
far cry from the wordy, editorializing Voice of America that has been 
the centerpiece of U.S. government broadcasting since World War 
II, Radio Sawa is modeled after Top-100 FM stations in this country.

Sawa, which means "together" in Arabic, uses market research to 
select a frequently updated playlist of American and Arab pop music 
that will appeal to young Arab listeners. Although there are plans to 
add more substantive programming, its current editorial content is a 
brief news bulletin twice an hour.

In a promotional prototype of future programming, Mohammed, an 
Arab youth, calls a radio talk show to say: "I want to know why the 
United States is fighting a war against Islam." In response, the 
station plays an excerpt from one of many Bush speeches on the 
peaceful nature of Islam and the ways in which terrorists have 
perverted it.

The State Department has begun producing what Beers calls "mini-
documentaries on Muslim life in America" to air on satellite stations 
in the Middle East. Having dismantled, for budgetary and security 
reasons, most of the once-ubiquitous American Cultural Centers and 
libraries around the world, the State Department plans to expand the 
"American Room" concept begun in Russia in the early 1990s. 
Corners of Americana established with local staff in existing local 
libraries or other cultural sites, the "rooms" are considered less 
appealing as terrorist targets.

With these efforts in their infancy, it is unclear how effective they will=
be. "We're reinventing the wheel," Walter R. Roberts, a veteran of 
high posts in public diplomacy efforts in previous administrations 
and a consultant to the advisory commission, said of the American 
Rooms at a recent commission meeting.

One Arab American who has closely followed public diplomacy 
developments said, "We need to ally ourselves with the right people. 
Our embassies need to go out and mingle. They hang out with the 
elites and don't engage those who resent us" but who have not 
turned to violence. "It's like a campaign," said this observer. "You've 
got to go after the swing voters."

Beers says this is precisely the attitude she is trying to instill. She 
has pledged that all U.S. diplomats, no matter what their rank, will 
receive more extensive training in the American "message" of 
democracy, personal freedom and free markets and learn how to 
spread it through local societies. Recruitment programs now 
emphasize public affairs, long considered near the bottom of the 
diplomatic career ladder, as an increasingly important specialty. 
Early this year, Beers brought U.S. embassy public affairs officers 
from around the world to Washington for a morale-boosting 

Congress has also moved into the public diplomacy arena. The 
House last week passed, with no opposition, a Hyde-sponsored bill 
that eventually would add hundreds of millions of dollars to the 
public diplomacy budget, expand the responsibilities of Beers's 
office, establish civilian exchange programs in the Muslim world and 
fund round-the-clock satellite television to the Middle East. Similar 
efforts are underway in the Senate.

Hollywood has signed on to help, although early flag-waving has 
evolved in most cases into nervousness about being drawn into a 
less clear-cut propaganda effort.

Almost every public policy think tank, including the American 
Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution, has held 
symposiums and offered advice. Today, the Council on Foreign 
Relations will weigh in with the release of "Strategy for Reform," the 
result of a month-long public diplomacy study by a private-sector 
task force.

But while there is a torrent of new attention, concern over how the 
United States is perceived abroad and what the government should 
do to influence foreign attitudes is a well-worn subject in 

President Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first to identify a target 
audience overseas with his Office of War Information, which created 
the Voice of America and established American Information Centers 
in liberated areas of Europe.

During the Cold War, President Harry S. Truman launched a 
"Campaign of Truth" that he said was "as important as armed 
strength or economic aid" in the battle against communism. Its most 
memorable creation was the U.S. International Information 
Administration, which established overseas libraries and foreign 
exchange programs. Under Dwight D. Eisenhower, it became the 
United States Information Agency.

Eisenhower rejected placing the agency under presidential control, 
and direct White House involvement was not revived until Ronald 
Reagan took office. In a classified, January 1983 National Security 
Decision Directive, Reagan placed responsibility for "overall 
planning, direction, coordination and monitoring of implementation 
of public diplomacy activities" under the National Security Council.

Relative global peace and a search for cuts in the federal 
bureaucracy made USIA a natural target for the Clinton 
administration, and there were few complaints when it was 
eliminated as a separate agency in 1999. By September 2001, the 
White House viewed public diplomacy as a back-burner enterprise 
for a superpower with unilateral interests and responsibilities.

Christopher Ross, a State Department specialist in Middle Eastern 
affairs who returned to government last year as "special coordinator" 
in Beers's office, said, "In the 10 years between the Cold War and 
September 11, we had forgotten about the outside world." The harsh 
anti-American rhetoric and images that had begun to overtake initial 
responses of international sympathy and support, he said, "showed 
us what people think of us, and we were shocked."

=A9 2002 The Washington Post Company 

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