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THE MESSAGE IS AMERICA:
RETHINKING U.S. PUBLIC DIPLOMACY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SEVENTH CONGRESS
NOVEMBER 14, 2001
Serial No. 10754
Printed for the use of the Committee on International Relations
Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.house.gov/internationalrelations
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HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois, Chairman
BENJAMIN A. GILMAN, New York
JAMES A. LEACH, Iowa
DOUG BEREUTER, Nebraska
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey
DAN BURTON, Indiana
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida
CASS BALLENGER, North Carolina
DANA ROHRABACHER, California
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California
PETER T. KING, New York
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio
AMO HOUGHTON, New York
JOHN M. McHUGH, New York
RICHARD BURR, North Carolina
JOHN COOKSEY, Louisiana
THOMAS G. TANCREDO, Colorado
RON PAUL, Texas
NICK SMITH, Michigan
JOSEPH R. PITTS, Pennsylvania
DARRELL E. ISSA, California
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCERIC CANTOR, Virginia
JEFF FLAKE, Arizona
BRIAN D. KERNS, Indiana
JO ANN DAVIS, Virginia
TOM LANTOS, California
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
GARY L. ACKERMAN, New York
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American Samoa
DONALD M. PAYNE, New Jersey
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
SHERROD BROWN, Ohio
CYNTHIA A. McKINNEY, Georgia
EARL F. HILLIARD, Alabama
BRAD SHERMAN, California
ROBERT WEXLER, Florida
JIM DAVIS, Florida
ELIOT L. ENGEL, New York
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
GREGORY W. MEEKS, New York
BARBARA LEE, California
JOSEPH CROWLEY, New York
JOSEPH M. HOEFFEL, Pennsylvania
EARL BLUMENAUER, Oregon
SHELLEY BERKLEY, Nevada
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCGRACE NAPOLITANO, California
ADAM B. SCHIFF, California
DIANE E. WATSON, California
THOMAS E. MOONEY, SR., Staff Director/General Counsel
ROBERT R. KING, Democratic Staff Director
SAM STRATMAN, Communications Director
DOUG SEAY, Professional Staff Member
MARILYN C. OWEN, Staff Associate
C O N T E N T S
Norman J. Pattiz, Founder and Chairman, Westwood One, Inc., and Member, Broadcasting Board of Governors
The Honorable Edward S. Walker, Jr., President, Middle East Institute, and former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt, Israel and the United Arab Emirates, and former Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, U.S. Department of State
John W. Leslie, Jr., Chairman, Weber Shandwick Worldwide
Robert L. Wehling, former Chairman, Advertising Council, and retired Global Marketing Officer, Procter & Gamble
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Mouafac Harb, Washington Bureau Chief, Al Hayat Newspaper
John Romano, Producer/Writer
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
Norman J. Pattiz: Prepared statement
The Honorable Edward S. Walker, Jr.: Prepared statement
John W. Leslie, Jr.: Prepared statement
Robert L. Wehling: Prepared statement
Mouafac Harb: Prepared statement
John Romano: Prepared statement
Analysis of Near East Policy from the scholars and associates of The Washington Institute, by Robert Satloff, Parts I and II, submitted for the record by the Honorable Tom Lantos, a Representative in Congress from the State of California
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Honorable Benjamin A. Gilman, a Representative in Congress from the State of New York: Prepared statement
The Honorable Joseph R. Pitts, a Representative in Congress from the State of Pennsylvania: Prepared statement
THE MESSAGE IS AMERICA:
RETHINKING U.S. PUBLIC DIPLOMACY
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2001
House of Representatives,
Committee on International Relations,
The Committee met, pursuant to call, at 10:20 a.m. In Room 2172, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Henry J. Hyde (Chairman of the Committee) presiding.
Chairman HYDE. The Committee will come to order.
It is by now obvious to most observers that the role of public diplomacy in our foreign policy has been too long neglected. The problem is more than a simple lack of attention. Even were it standard practice to accord public diplomacy a more prominent place in our foreign policy deliberations, few would assert that our existing programs have been effective in achieving even the modest goals set for them.
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I do not believe that piecemeal reforms are likely to produce major improvements. Nor do I believe that the problems we confront can be solved simply by spending more money on ineffective programs, although we must be open to the prospect of providing additional resources if needs are identified. Instead, we must reexamine our entire approach to the subject. The tasks are many, among the most important being how to make better use of the range of media available to ussuch as radio, television, the Internet and other means of communicationto expand our potential audience.
But greater access must be paired with compelling content, which poses an entirely different set of problems: how to better understand our target audiences and then tailor our programming to maximize its impact. Thus, reinventing public diplomacy is an undertaking that will call upon the talents of many. In addition to those in the responsible agencies who represent an enormous reservoir of expertise, we must draw upon the talents of those in the private sector who have acquired practical experience in the creation and promotion of compelling images and ideas here and around the world. Today's hearings are aimed at that objective but represent only an initial effort.
However, even if we were entirely successful in our efforts to retool our public diplomacy programs, there is no guarantee that we would use this new instrument to any great purpose. It cannot be used effectively until it is part of a larger strategy. Which begs the question: What, in fact, is its purpose? To propagandize foreign populations? To depict a pleasing image of the United States? To provide entertainment to casual listeners or to broaden minds by encouraging debate?
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Well, to understand the role of public diplomacy we need to reexamine our broader approach to foreign policy. That is where the problem lies, for I believe half of our foreign policy is missing.
As a global power, the United States bears many responsibilities in many areas of the world, ranging from helping to maintain order in a score of regions to safeguarding the functioning and integrity of the international economic system. These and other duties require constant interaction and cooperation with a broad array of governments around the world, from friendly allies to odious autocracies. So closely is the work of foreign policy identified with relations between governments that the two are commonly equated.
But this view ignores an enormous segment of what should be our foreign policy and thereby overlooks powerful allies, for the United States is a singular nation, not just in terms of unequal power and global reach but because of its deep connections with the peoples of the world. Virtually unique among other countries, the United States possesses the capacity not only to deal with the governments of the world but directly with their peoples as well. Among the latter, our power and wealth may inspire admiration or envy, but it is the values and hope that we represent that is the basis for the most powerful connection.
The implications of this are surprising. The United States has the unique capacity to pursue a foreign policy along two separate tracksthat is, with the governments of the world and with their people. And our relationship with these populations can be a powerful resource in our dealings with their ruling regimes.
That is why I believe that the peoples of the world, especially those ruled by unelected regimes, comprise our true allies. We are allies because we share common aspirationsfreedom, security, prosperityand because we often face common enemies, namely the regimes that rule over them. We are allies because the advancement of the aims of one advances those of the other.
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This deep and powerful connection was demonstrated by the collapse of the Soviet Union. First Pope John Paul II and then President Ronald Reagan summoned our allies among the imprisoned peoples of that empire and emboldened them to defy their regimes and press for their freedom. By so doing, these peoples destroyed their ruling regimes from within, almost without a shot being fired. By securing their own freedom, they handed the United States and the entire free world a strategic victory of incalculable benefit, one which a half century of enormous effort by the West had alone been unable to attain.
This same connection exists in other countries, from China to Iran, where their peoples' desire for freedom poses a mortal threat to the current regimes. The connection with the United States has already been demonstrated in China. There, the advocates of democracy in Tiananmen Square quoted from the Declaration of Independence and erected a Goddess of Freedom explicitly modeled on the Statute of Liberty in order to demonstrate that the goals they were pursuing for their country were the same as those represented by the United States.
That connection with the Chines people remains. Far from standing back and allowing the regime in Beijing to marshal the support of the Chinese people against the United States and its interests, I hope we recognize the existence of our alliance with the Chinese people and employ it to bring about positive change in their country. In fact, I hope that we use to it help the Chinese people peacefully to bring to power a democratic government in their country, for that may be the only way of ensuring that the growing power of that enormous country is not diverted by its ruling regime into policies that threaten the security of the international system and the interests of the United States.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The same alliance can be replicated for many countries, from Vietnam to Cuba. But to use it, we first must recognize its existence and then devise policies to make it a realty. Most important of all is the decision to actively engage the people of the world and doing so separately from our ongoing relations with their governments. To do that, we must speak directly to these people, right past their governments, and do so on a permanent basis, even as we continue our necessary relationships with those governments.
That, then, is the role that I would set for our public diplomacy, to enlist the populations of the world into a common cause and to convince them that the goals that they seek for themselvesfreedom, security and prosperityare the same as those the United States seeks. If we are successful in this bold endeavor, we will not only enhance our own foreign policy but will have given a powerful impetus to the creation of a world in which freedom, security, and prosperity are secured to us and to all.
I apologize for the prolixity of my statement, but the ideas deserve a fuller treatment than normal.
I am now pleased to yield to the ranking Democrat, Mr. Lantos of California.
Mr. LANTOS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to commend you for an excellent statement, and I want to commend you for holding this second hearing on public diplomacy as it impacts on our international war on terrorism.
As we have stated many times from this forum, the struggle in which we are currently engaged against international terrorism is like no other our Nation has ever been involved with, and it requires that we muster the resources of all Americans, including those in the private and the corporate sector. By calling this hearing, you clearly recognize the importance of the private sector and the role it must play in public diplomacy.
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I am pleased, Mr. Chairman, that the Administration has heeded our earlier call to action and has begun to take steps to mount a concerted public diplomacy campaign in Afghanistan and throughout Asia and the Middle East. After a late start, I am pleased to note that the Administration has come to understand the importance of developing a coordinated message with our friends, allies and others in the region.
I think it is extremely important also that the Administration at long last muster the courage to speak to some of the countries in the Arab world which have grown accustomed to not only no criticism from the United States, but to quiet acceptance of the most outrageous statements.
A few days ago, the Saudi foreign minister expressed his anger and frustration. Somebody from the Administration should remind the Saudi foreign minister that had we not sent a half million American troops to the Persian Gulf War, he would not be the foreign minister of any country, because Saudi Arabia would not exist today. So instead of anger and frustration, we would expect some gratitude and humility from some of our interlocutors.
I hope, Mr. Chairman, that the Administration will also come to understand the importance of reinvigorating our international broadcasting agencies, including Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty; and what I mean by reinvigoration in part means dramatically increasing their funding. The overwhelming passage of the legislation authorizing the establishment of Radio Free Afghanistan in the House last week demonstrates our bipartisan, firm commitment to international broadcasting and its importance in the current struggle.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I also believe, Mr. Chairman, that we must not only be afraid to proclaim the universal values we espouse, but we must recognize that those universal values are the most attractive devices at the disposal of the United States in this global battle in the field of public diplomacythe values of democracy, human rights and social justice. These are the strongest weapons in our arsenal, and they will ultimately be the guarantors of our victory.
We must also remember that many of the audiences that we talk to do not enjoy the blessing of free and independent media, and the techniques we use in a society which takes free and independent media for granted may not always be the most easily useful and valuable in dealing with other societies.
It is obvious that we have a great deal to learn from our Nation's public relations professionals. This means not only honing our message but also recruiting the most effective messengers to work in the media as we conduct this battle of global diplomacy.
Before concluding, Mr. Chairman, I would just like to add a comment with respect to our coming markup tomorrow. I am supportive of the basic approach to the Afghanistan Freedom Act. But I would like to inform my colleagues that, with several of my friends, I am working on an amendment which I will offer as a substitute at the right time.
I think we will have to deal seriously as the military situation improves in Afghanistan with the problems of reconstructing Afghanistan after decades of civil war and Taliban rule, supporting an international peacekeeping force and the post-Taliban transition government. We clearly must take an important role in this endeavor, although the burden will have to be shared.
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Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman HYDE. Thank you, Mr. Lantos.
I am going to ask the Members to have their statements made a part of the record, rather than give them at this point, because our witnesses all have very tight time schedules, and it is important that we hear them. So, without objection, any further statements from Members in the nature of opening statements will be made a part of the record.
I want to welcome our witnesses today. We have before us extensive expertise in advertising, entertainment and image development fields.
First, I would like to welcome Norman Pattiz, who is the Founder and Chairman of Westwood One, America's largest radio network, and a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors which oversees U.S.-government-sponsored international broadcasting, which includes the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty and Radio Free Asia. Westwood One provides programming to over 7,000 radio stations in the United States, including those of the Mutual Broadcasting System, NBC Radio Networks, CBS Radio Networks, and CNN Radio News. Mr. Pattiz brings a wealth of experience on how to reach and hold an audience.
Next, Ambassador Edward S. Walker, Jr., who became President and CEO of the Middle East Institute in May of this year. A career Foreign Service officer for nearly 35 years, Ambassador Walker has extensive Middle East experience, having served as the Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs and also as U.S. Ambassador to Israel and Egypt.
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We welcome your views on this complex region, Mr. Ambassador.
Next, I would like to introduce John W. Leslie, Jr., a veteran communications strategist, having helped plan and direct political campaigns on three continents. Mr. Leslie presently serves as Chairman of Weber Shandwick, the world's largest public relations firm. A principal focus of Weber Shandwick's work is assisting corporations and public institutions in shaping public attitudes on high-profile issues. A former senior aid to Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Mr. Leslie has advised several heads of state on communications as well as having managed trade and economic development campaigns for several foreign governments.
In October of 2000, the flagship magazine of the ad world, Advertising Age, named Robert Wehling number one on its list of the 50 most powerful people in marketing. Mr. Wehling began his career with Procter & Gamble in 1960, rising to Global Marketing and Government Relations Officer at the time of his retirement in August, 2001.
Mr. Wehling has served as Chairman of the Board of the Advertising Council, the nonprofit group tasked with marshalling volunteered talent from the advertising and communications industry along with the resources of the business and non-profit communities to create an awareness on a select number of significant public issues.
Mouafac Harb is the Washington Bureau Chief for Al Hayat, an Arabic language newspaper based in London and circulated internationally. He is widely published in the English and Arab media and is a frequent commentator on a number of Arab television news programs aboard. Before taking the Al Hayat post, Mr. Harb was responsible for the launch of a new television network in his native Lebanon. The bulk of his journalism career has been spent in the United States, where he founded a news service specializing in Middle Eastern affairs and earlier had worked 4 years for ABC News Nightline in a variety of capacities.
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John Romano, an Emmy-nominated TV writer/producer and screenwriter, has written and produced more than a dozen different series, including Party of Five, Third Watch, Providence, Early Edition, LA Law, and Hill Street Blues. In addition, he was the creator of three original series, Class of '96, Sweet Justice, which was presented with the Justice and Media award in 1996, and the CBS series Michael Hayes.
Prior to his entertainment career, John Romano was Assistant Professor of English at Columbia University and holds a Ph.D. in English from Yale.
Obviously, we have a very distinguished panel. I will request each of you to summarize your statement in about 5 minutes, give or take. We will be flexible, but that is our goal. Your full statement will be placed in the record, and I can promise you every word of your full statement will be read, if not by every Member of this Committee, then by a very representative group, including myself.
So, Mr. Pattiz, please begin.
STATEMENT OF NORMAN J. PATTIZ, FOUNDER AND CHAIRMAN, WESTWOOD ONE, INC., AND MEMBER, BROADCASTING BOARD OF GOVERNORS
Mr. PATTIZ. Thank you.
Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee. I am Norm Pattiz. I am very pleased to be here with you today.
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So as not to irritate one of our partners, I want to add that along with NBC, CBS, CNN and Mutual, we also distribute the Fox Radio News networkjust to show balance.
I wish to make it clear that my testimony today represents my personal views and not necessarily those of the Broadcasting Board of Governors or the Administration.
In your letter of invitation, Mr. Chairman, you posed a challenge to imagine a prototype U.S. public diplomacy initiative. As it happens, I embrace this same challenge at every meeting of the Broadcasting Board of Governors.
I would invite you to imagine something well beyond anything U.S. international broadcasting has been able to do before, something that uses American commercial broadcasting techniques to attract the largest possible audience to advance U.S. public diplomacy.
What I envision, Mr. Chairman, is a global, research-driven U.S. Government broadcasting network that fulfills the missions of both the surrogate radios and the Voice of America by programming their distinct content in state-of-the-art 24-hour formats on FM, AM, audio and video satellite channels and shortwave, that audiences use and that we control.
How could this ever be done? Well, we have taken the first step in this direction at the BBG with our new Middle East broadcast initiative. My first assignment when I joined the Board, which, incidentally, was exactly 1 year ago today, was to co-Chair the Subcommittee that reviews all of our language services as mandated by Congress.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Middle East caught my attention. What we had in the Middle East were 7 hours a day of Arabic programming in a one-size-fits-all approach to all 22 countries of the region, broadcast over shortwave, which barely anyone listened to, and by a medium wave signal out of the Island of Rhodes which was barely audible, and then only in the evening. In short, we really had no chance of having any impact.
The Board took my findings and then asked me to Chair a new Subcommittee on the Middle East. Last February, I led a delegation of the Board to the region on a fact-finding trip. We met with a host of government officials, broadcasters, journalists and academics and attended focus groups.
The trip confirmed that VOA had very little impact, but it enlightened us as to the opportunities for success. We saw that transmission means were possible and available, and we learned a lot about the audience.
Clearly, we wanted to target this at the under-25 audience, which represents 60 percent of the population of the region, and its future leaders. What we learned about the Arabs generally was that, although they were opposed to American policies, they embrace our values of freedom of choice and individual choice. Programming strategies, in light of that, started to take shape.
The Board received my report and approved a proposal for the Middle East radio initiative. We are proud that the President has endorsed this initiative, as did this Committee in its authorizing legislation; and I wish to personally thank the Members of this Committee who have supported us since the very beginning.
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Here are the basic elements of the Middle East radio initiative:
It is to use radio the way it was meant to be used, as a medium of formats.
It is to be a force in the market by programming 24/7 on multiple channels that audiences use and that we own and control.
It is to have a strong local feel in programming, content and sound.
It is to know the audience that we program to and to program to that audience.
It is to talk with people, not at them; to be a model of democracy in action; an example of a free press in the American tradition; to attract audiences by creatively using music and entertainment; and, most of all, to be credible.
We developed this strategy for the Middle East Radio Network long before September 11th. The public diplomacy challenges are now much larger. I believe we must enhance our government-supported international broadcasting into other countries with large Islamic populations. This includes the Caucasus and Eurasia, Central and South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia.
The model of the Middle East Radio Network fits perfectly with the expansion into these areas. I would stress that TV must also be part of the mix. It is my view that we need a U.S.-sponsored 24/7 satellite service that would provide an American alternative to regional channels such as Al-Jazeera.
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President Bush has been clear since September 11th that the war against terrorism will be long and complex. I think we can all agree that public diplomacy is key to our overall antiterrorism effort. I appreciate your invitation, Mr. Chairman, to think large about how best to advance this effort.
I will close by repeating my vision: a global, research-driven U.S. Government broadcasting network that fulfills the mission of both the surrogate radios and the Voice of America by programming their distinct content in state-of-the-art 24-hour formats on FM, AM, audio and video satellite channels and short wave that our audiences use and that we control.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman HYDE. Thank you, Mr. Pattiz.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Pattiz follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF NORMAN J. PATTIZ, FOUNDER AND CHAIRMAN, WESTWOOD ONE, INC., AND MEMBER, BROADCASTING BOARD OF GOVERNORS
Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee. I am Norm Pattiz. I am very pleased to be with you today.
As you noted, I am the founder and chairman of Westwood One, Inc. Westwood One is America's largest radio network and provider of radio programming, serving over 7500 stations coast to coast. We are a leader in music, entertainment, sports, and talk programming. We are also a major force in the news and information business. We own or distribute CBS Radio News, Fox News Radio, CNN Radio News, and the NBC Radio Network.
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At the same time, I am proud to serve on the bipartisan United States Broadcasting Board of Governors. The Board, as you know, supervises all non-military international broadcasting supported by our government, including the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, and Radio and Television Marti.
So, I appear before you today both as a private citizen from the world of commercial broadcasting and a public servant who's already actively engaged in our nation's public diplomacy. I wish to stress, however, that I represent my personal views and not necessarily those of the Broadcasting Board of Governors or the Administration.
In your letter of invitation, Mr. Chairman, you posed a challenge. You've asked me to consider what I would do if I received the contract from the government to pursue the type of public diplomacy program that I thought would best convey to the world what we in America stand for and what our government is about, especially in this time of crisis as we combat the scourge of terrorism.
I am actually somewhat at an advantage here, I suppose, in that I have had this very challenge presented to me as a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors during the short time I have servedin fact it was just one year ago today that I was sworn in as a Board member.
I think we have a fabulous opportunity to take what the government knows best in terms of our public diplomacy mission through U.S. international broadcasting and marry that with the very best of what the private sector knows in building audiences to come up with a solution that goes way beyond anything U.S. international broadcasting has been able to do before.
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I want to recognize that U.S. international broadcasting does an outstanding job given the fact that it must broadcast in 60 languages around the world with a budget of less than $500 million.
But, what I envision is a global, research-driven U.S. government broadcasting network that fulfills the missions of both the surrogate radios and the Voice of America by programming their distinct content in state-of-the-art 24/7 formats on the channelsFM, AM, audio and video satellite, and shortwavethat our audiences use and we control.
That's not only a mouthful; it's a tall order. But we've taken a step in this very direction with the Board's new public diplomacy initiative, the Middle East Radio Network. Let me explain its genesis and how it points to our future direction.
Because of my background in broadcasting, the first job I was handed on the Board was to co-chair the committee charged with undertaking the congressionally-mandated annual review of all U.S. international broadcasting languages. What I saw shocked me. I was astounded to see how poorly we did in areas of vital concern to U.S. foreign policy.
The Middle East was a special case in point. Voice of America weekly listening rates hovered between just 12%. Yet here was the Israeli-Palestinian problem, rampant anti-Americanism, hate radio, and, yes, the breeding ground for radical Islamic fundamentalism.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We had no targeted programming for the region, just a generic, one-size-fits-all Arabic stream. We had no local FM or regional AM distribution, the radio channels of choice, just out-dated shortwave. We scarcely had a presence in the region, only a few very small news bureaus. In short, we really had no chance of being successful.
I presented the findings of this review to the Board, and, as Boards are wont to do, they promptly asked me to chair another committee, this one on the Middle East, to develop a plan that would really put U.S. international broadcasting on the map in the region.
So in February of this year, I led a Board delegation to the Middle East to have my own look at the market and what we might be able to do. We met with government officials, ministers of information, heads of national radio and television entities, individual broadcasters, journalists, and academics.
What we heard on the trip sharpened our sense of the marketplace realities:
U.S. international broadcasting has little if any impact in the Middle East.
State censorship and journalistic self-censorship sharply restrict the flow of information.
Arabs are opposed to American policies, but drawn to American traditions of individual choice and freedom.
A complex media environment exists. Satellite TV is influential, but radio remains vital.
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The most influential radio services seek to appeal to better-educated young adults.
At the same time, the trip opened up surprising opportunities. In Qatar, the head of the Qatar Television and Radio Corporation (the same person who oversees Al Jazeera) greeted us by saying, ''where have you been?'' He was astonished to finally see American officials come asking for local FM broadcasting rights and other assistance, and then pledged his full support. We were met with similar pledges of support in Jordan and Egypt.
As many on the Committee know well, the Board has taken full stock of our broadcasting situation in the Middle East and has been proactive in proposing the Middle East Radio Network as a totally new service for the region. We are proud the President has lent his full support to this initiative, as did this Committee in its authorizing legislation. On behalf of the Board, I wish to thank the many members of this Committee who have supported us in this endeavor.
The Middle East Radio Network is a prototype for U.S. international broadcasting. It is an example of how the U.S. can, once and for all, be effective in key countries and regions. There's no reason whatsoever that our nation cannot have the reach and influence we seek in the Middle East and elsewhere
For this to happen, U.S. international broadcasting needs to come into the 21st-century, using the same techniques and technologies that drive U.S. commercial media today.
Here are the basic elements of the strategy:
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We're going to use radio the way it was meant to be used. Radio is a medium of formats not shows. We tune to a particular station because we like what that station offers overall. Think about the settings on your car radio and what they say about how you listen. U.S. international broadcasting still uses radio largely the way it was used fifty years ago. The 60 language services present collections of programs, packaged into programming blocks of varying duration. Not only does this sound dated but it robs our broadcasting of one key advantage of formatted radioa clear identity the audience can relate to and easily recognize. The Middle East Radio Network will present a consistent, uniform format that achieves a clear identity the audience can relate to and easily recognize.
We're going to be a force in the marketon the air 24/7 on multiple channels that the audience uses and that we own. Being on around the clock establishes a fixed, prominent profile as opposed to sporadic broadcasts at different times during the day. We want to maintain a constant on-air presence and be available whenever the audience wants us. If they listen to AM, then we need to be on AM; if FM, then FM. The last thing we want is to be inaccessible. Which is why we must also have sufficient redundancy as a hedge against host government interference. Owning the channels precludes sharing or leasing arrangements whereby programming incompatible with our format and profile would air before or after ours.
We're going to be heavily ''local'' in what we program and the way we sound. All politics is local; all news is localalmost. The Middle East Radio Network will have a unique format of locally targeted programming streams together with a pan-Arabic stream. In the local stream, we will focus on local news, issues, and problems. At the same time, we have to sound local, which means employing on-air talent with local dialects. The more local we are overall, the more the audience will see us as their own.
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We're going to know the audience and program to that audience. For the Middle East Radio Network, we've already determined our target is the new young mainstream of educated Arabs under 30 and the emerging Arab leadership. Now, we have to know their particular concerns, sensitivities, needs, and preferences. It is especially important to discern what their interests vis-a-vis the U.S. are. This is what will enable us to resonate with them from the start. For Gulf Arabs, it might be Wall Street reports and English-language instruction; for West Bank Palestinians, background reports on the unemployment situation and health issues. Whatever programming connects, we need to use it. (Within an established 24/7 programming format, we can gain more audience precisely for the news mission.)
We're going to talk with people, not at them. We cannot forget that many of our target audiences are very skeptical, if not cynical, where the U.S. is concerned. Talking at these people will be pointless. They will simply tune out. To the maximum extent possible, we must engage the audience, as I describe below. We need an interactive communications approach.
We're going to be a model of democracy in action. Democracy is our nation's signature trait. We should manifest it in every way possible, both as an end in itself and a means to foster audience participation and involvement. People long to be queried, consulted, and included. This is doubly true of our key target countries and regions where democracy is fledgling or non-existent. Youth especially long for outlets to express themselves. Call-in shows, on-air voting, listener response lines, song requestsall standard fare in U.S. commercial broadcastingmust be part of our programming mix.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We're going to be an example of a free press. We'll sacrifice our audience and our opportunity to fulfill our mission if we don't play it straight. Skeptical, even cynical, audiences will hold us to an especially high standard. Like democracy, freedom is another signature American trait. We should exemplify our commitment to freedom by upholding the highest standards of a free and responsible press.
We're going to attract an audience by creatively using entertainment and music. We have to be realistic. The target audiences for the Middle East Radio Network will be young adults 1530. They are not news-seekers first and foremost. We have to attract them with the programming they want to hear and drop in the news and information we want them to get. This means strategic use of music and entertainment. A major competitive advantage of the Middle East Radio Network is access to specialized music researchers who use state-of-the-art techniques to stay up to the minute on changing audience preferences. Since music will be a vital to our programming appeal, it must be absolutely current.
We developed the strategy for the Middle East Radio Network long before September 11. Now more than ever, the full force of this project must be brought to bear on the immediate public diplomacy challenges in the region.
But that is not enough. The challenges we now face are much larger than what radio alone to just one region of the world can solve. With the onset of the global anti-terrorism campaign, we have witnessed a dramatic enlargement of the challenges to U.S. public diplomacy. Winning hearts and minds has become a national security imperative for the U.S. virtually the world over.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC For this reason, I believe the United States must now enhance up our government-supported international broadcasting in all countries of the world that have large Islamic populations.
We have a vital mission to counter misinformation and messages of hate regarding the United States by broadcasting truthful news and information and by faithfully representing our country's government and culture.
Beyond the Middle East, there are significant Islamic populations in the Caucasus and Eurasia, Central and South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and East Asia. Many of the countries in these regions reportedly have Al-Qaeda or other Islamic terrorist cells operating within their borders. Many of them also have problems of instability and violence due to ethnic and religious strife.
The model of the Middle East Radio Network fits perfectly with the expansion into all these new areas. I think it is important to add, however, that our expanded response must include television as well as radio. In my personal view, we need a U.S.-sponsored 24/7 Arabic-language satellite television service that would provide an American alternative to regional channels such as Al Jazeera.
Not only is the Middle East Radio Network a broadcasting model, it is also a potential organizational model. It revolutionizes U.S. international broadcasting by encompassing both the surrogate mission of locally focused news reporting and the VOA mission of representing America.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Were we to expand this model beyond the Middle East, we could bring both surrogate and VOA programming elements into one, coordinated programming stream. In this context, the surrogates and VOA would be content providers supplying programming within a global broadcasting network. The network would be maintained by the International Broadcasting Bureau, which also operates under the Broadcasting Board of Governors and has had since 1994 the function of consolidating broadcasting operations.
Now, a network framework would in no way diminish the respective missions of the broadcasters; rather, I firmly believe, it would strengthen them. It would let them focus on what they do best, which is produce top-quality programming. Responsibility for signal delivery, research, general administration, etc. would fall to the International Broadcasting Bureau. The network would also serve to eliminate considerable duplication of effort that still plagues U.S. international broadcasting.
President Bush has been clear since September 11 that we must anticipate that the war against terrorism will be long and complex. We see in the headlines everyday how central to the overall anti-terrorism effort the public diplomacy component is.
U.S. international broadcasting has played a key role in every major world conflict and crisis in which the United States has been engaged over the last 60 years. In every one of these, World War II and the Cold War especially, our government-supported overseas broadcasting has been a major contributing factor in our country's success. We stand ready and able to contribute further now.
We know how to make U.S. international broadcasting robust in every quarter of the world. We simply have to use the same broadcasting techniques and technologies that drive the best commercial broadcasting today. These have worked everywhere they have been tried.
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We also have a vision for how to accomplish this. If we dramatically expand our broadcasting, as I believe we must, we then need to rethink how we are organized to carry out this work.
And so I come full circle. For U.S. international broadcasting to be as effective as I know it can be I believe we must move toward a global, research-driven U.S. government broadcasting network that fulfills the missions of both the surrogate radios and the Voice of America by programming their distinct content in state-of-the-art 24/7 formats on the channelsFM, AM, audio and video satellite channels, and shortwave that our audiences use and we control.
I appreciate the opportunity to provide you with my views on how to make U.S. public diplomacy more effective through U.S. international broadcasting. I'd be happy to answer any questions you or other members of the Committee might have.
Chairman HYDE. Ambassador Walker.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE EDWARD S. WALKER, JR., PRESIDENT, MIDDLE EAST INSTITUTE, AND FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO EGYPT, ISRAEL AND THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, AND FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR NEAR EASTERN AFFAIRS, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Ambassador WALKER. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I am deeply honored to have this opportunity to appear before you today, and I applaud your determination and the Committee Members' determination to enhance understanding of our country around the world.
This is no easy task. It will require many years of unwavering dedication as well as additional financial commitments. But our success in the ''hearts and minds'' campaign is absolutely crucial to U.S. national interests in the longer term.
Fortunately, we currently have thousands of Americans and Foreign Service nationals dedicated to this task. They are the men and the woman of our military and foreign services. I firmly believe that, regardless of our political orientations, all of us can recognize that these individuals' unflagging efforts are our first line of defense against forces of fanaticism, intolerance and bigotry worldwide.
But the catastrophes of September 11th have made painfully clear that our defenses, whether homeland, intelligence or public diplomacy, require significant reinforcement as well as a critical assessment of how we can do better.
I will focus my discussion here on the yawning divide that plagues our relations with the Middle East and their perceptions of us.
I returned on Sunday, November 11th, from a 3-week visit to the Middle East that included stops in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Saudi Arabia. Let me reassure you, Mr. Chairman, we are being heard in the region, from Cairo to Riyadh. When President Bush speaks, he commands a substantial audience.
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The problem is not one of inadequate coverage of our policies, public statements or rationale for the war against terrorism. On the contrary, every statement by every distinguished policymaker in Washington is carried in one way or another and often, unfortunately, inaccurately or out of context by a wide range of media outlets. I have some personal experience with headlines and leads that capture the reader's attention but little of the actual substance of what is being said.
Public diplomacy must be much more than a convenient packaging technique for our foreign policy. It should be a means of promoting two-way communication between the U.S. and diverse peoples of the world, of enhancing our foreign policy through a comprehensive understanding of the world around us. There is absolutely no substitute for listening.
Quite frankly, the refrain throughout the region focuses on our perceived indifference to hearing and understanding viewpoints that differ with ours. We are often accused of being arrogant. In my meetings with senior government officials, business leaders, academics and the press, this seemingly one-sided approach to diplomacy has engendered real frustration with our campaign. Every country in the region has fought terrorism, many for more than two decades. There are genuine shared interests and common causes but a very real reluctance to be more publicly engaged, due in large part to uncertainty about our future objectives and how these may or may not be appropriate to their own national interests.
A second refrain in the region is that our policy is antiseptic and uncaring about its impact on peoplecivilians in Afghanistan, the suppressed in Iraq, and above all the Palestinians. We may not share the depth of conviction that is present in the Arab and Islamic worlds regarding the plight of the Palestinian people, for example, or the U.S. responsibility to right the perceived wrong, but we have to understand that these sentiments are absolutely genuine and that in this connection we are perceived too often as being uncaring. This we can correct.
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I should note that I received all of the above criticism from some of our closest Western allies as well. This should not be construed only as the self-serving opinion of a region that is fraught with conflicts and problems whose origins have little to do with U.S. policy. Of course, our natural interests must and should come first. But that should not exclude a more nuanced understanding of the region in which we are operating.
One clear perception that I had from every country was that the problem was getting worse because the young, those under 25, are more radical and more inclined toward fundamentalism and anti-Americanism than their fathers. This is bad news, indeed, and argues that we must target the next generation in the next steps of our public diplomacy campaign.
In short, our campaign against terrorism needs more than just military support. It needs additional resources to be committed to the public diplomacy effortmore exchanges, more interaction between our peoples.
We have a number of potential suggestions which I have in the larger text but will leave out for time's sake here. In any event, these suggestions are just a few thoughts.
There are many different possibilities. But the key components must be to put a human face on our message, to be sensitive to and address our audience, to focus more on the next generation, and to be perfectly clear about our message, even when it is unpleasant. Nothing damages us more than confusion about our aims and interests.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
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Chairman HYDE. Thank you, Ambassador.
[The prepared statement of Ambassador Walker follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE EDWARD S. WALKER, JR., PRESIDENT, MIDDLE EAST INSTITUTE, AND FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO EGYPT, ISRAEL AND THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, AND FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR NEAR EASTERN AFFAIRS, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
I am deeply honored to have this opportunity to appear before you today and I applaud your determination to enhance understanding of our country around the world. This is no easy task. It will require many years of unwavering dedication as well as additional financial commitments. But our success in the ''hearts and minds'' campaign is absolutely crucial to U.S. national interests in the longer term.
Fortunately, we currently have thousands of Americans and foreign nationals dedicated to this task: they are the men and women of our military and foreign services. I firmly believe that, regardless of our political orientations, all of us can recognize that these individuals' unflagging efforts are our first line of defense against forces of fanaticism, intolerance and bigotry worldwide.
But the catastrophes of September 11 have made painfully clear that our defenses, whether homeland or intelligence or public diplomacy, require significant reinforcement as well as a critical assessment of how we can do better. On the public diplomacy front, we are fortunate to have in this room a number of distinguished individuals who had the foresight to begin addressing these shortcomings long before September 11. Their contributions and insights should play a significant role in defining the scope and objectives for our public diplomacy strategy.
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I will focus my discussion here on the yawning divide that plagues our relations with the Middle East, and their perceptions of us. I returned on Sunday (November 11, 2001) from a three-week visit to the Middle East that included stops in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Saudi Arabia. And let me reassure you: we are being heard in the region. From Cairo to Riyadh, when President Bush speaks, he commands a substantial audience. The problem is not one of inadequate coverage of our policies, public statements or rationale for the war against terrorism. On the contrary, every statement by every distinguished policymaker in Washington is carried in one way or another, and often inaccurately or out of context, by a wide range of media outlets. I have some personal experience with headlines and leads that capture the reader's attention but little of the actual substance revealed a few paragraphs down the page.
When I went to the region, I was bombarded with opinions assailing the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal for their editorials and several specific articles; when I came home, I heard and read incensed opinions on similarly negative viewpoints found in Al Ahram, the Jordan Times and the Daily Star.
Some would argue that we must speak louder and slower; others, that one-way communication, from the U.S. to the region will correct for our past inadequacies. In my 34 years of public service, almost all of it spent in the Middle East, I have never found these techniques to be effective. In fact, they are counterproductive. Public diplomacy must be much more than a convenient packaging technique for our foreign policy; it should be a means of promoting two-way communication between the U.S. and diverse peoples of the world, of enhancing our foreign policy through a comprehensive understanding of the world around us. There is absolutely no substitute for listening.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Quite frankly, the refrain throughout the region focuses on our perceived indifference to hearing and understanding viewpoints that differ with ours. We are often accused of being arrogant. In my meetings with senior government officials, business leaders, academics and the press, this seemingly one-sided approach to diplomacy has engendered real frustration with our campaign against terrorism. Every country in the region has fought terrorism, many for more than two decades. There are genuine shared interests and common causes, but a very real reluctance to be more publicly engaged due, in large part, to uncertainty about our future objectives and how these may or may not be appropriate to their own national interests.
A second refrain in the region is that our policy is antiseptic and uncaring about its impact on peoplecivilians in Afghanistan, the suppressed in Iraq and above all the Palestinians. The issue of Palestine continues to be an open wound in the Middle East. In September, I stated in my testimony before the HIRC Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia that the Israeli-Palestinian issue has been allowed to fester for far too long. A tour of the region just reinforces that view. We may not share the depth of conviction that is present in the Arab and Islamic worlds regarding the plight of the Palestinian people and the U.S. responsibility to right the perceived wrong, but we have to understand that these sentiments are absolutely genuine and that, in this connection, we are perceived too often as being uncaring. This we can correct.
It is not just ''why do they hate us'' but ''why do we fear them''. There is a duality here, a very real set of misconceptions on both sides. We cannot effectively address our image overseas, increasing a more positive understanding of our culture and freedoms without first recognizing that we have substantial work to do ourselves in understanding and empathizing with the concerns of others.
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I should note that I have received all of the above criticism from some of our closest Western allies as well. This should not be construed only as the self-serving opinion of a region that is fraught with conflicts and problems whose origins have little to do with U.S. policy. Of course, our national interest must and should come first. But that should not exclude a more nuanced understanding of the region in which we are operating. It is complicated, its history is rife with tortuous internecine conflicts that, in many cases, have only recently been resolved. And one clear perception I had from every country was that the problem was getting worse because the young, those under 25, are more radical and inclined toward fundamentalism and anti-Americanism than their fathers. This is bad news indeed and argues that we must target the next generation in the ''next steps'' of our public diplomacy campaign.
In short, our campaign against terrorism needs more than just military support, it needs additional resources to be committed to the public diplomacy effort: more exchanges, more interaction between our peoples. For example, at MEI we are working with the Ford Foundation on a proposal that would establish an exchange program for Egyptian and U.S. journalists. The impact of such exchanges, including ones between Hollywood and the film and TV industries of the region, cannot be underestimated. A member of my staff was a Fulbright recipient, and she attests to its tremendous impact both on her life and that of those she interacted with in Damascus, Syria.
That is one aspect of a longer-term approach. Some short-term actions we should consider include:
Coordination between Hollywood and VOA to develop professional-grade programming for local broadcast outlets.
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Involving Hollywood with film industry in Cairo and Beirut, for example: designing PSAs for broadcast on state-run TV, exchanges of technical/creative staffs.
Greater engagement with multiple local outletsAl Jazeera is not the only station: work with state-run media for guest bookings.
Design supplemental materials in Arabic on American studies for elementary and secondary school students.
Expand programs of email Pen pals, establishing networks of communication between US and Middle Eastern schools.
Tell the human interest story: remove restriction on USAID from advertising their good works; advance and publicize the good work of U.S.-based NGOs.
Develop a resource base of prominent Americans, including Arab-Americans, who can be our informal ambassadors.
Ensure that we speak to the local audience, differentiating between countriesone size does not fit alland stop addressing Washington when we are trying to address Riyadh.
These are just a few thoughts with many more possibilities out there. The key components must be to put a human face on our message, to be sensitive to and address our audience, to focus more on the next generation, and to be perfectly clear about our message even when it must be unpleasant. Nothing damages us more than confusion about our aims and intentions. Thank you.
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Chairman HYDE. Mr. Leslie.
STATEMENT OF JOHN W. LESLIE, JR., CHAIRMAN, WEBER SHANDWICK WORLDWIDE
Mr. LESLIE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and Members of the Committee. It is a pleasure to be here today.
As you have noted, I spent the better part of my career working in developing countries with individuals and organizations who sought how best to use communications to achieve their public policy objectives. So, like many others, I have watched with some frustration the consequences of our failure to effectively communicate with the 1.2 billion people of the Muslim world.
And I use the world ''people'' deliberately. You made this point, Mr. Chairman, in your opening remarks. Historically as a Nation we have communicated government to government and not people to people. And that has been exacerbated, I think since the end of the Cold War when we cut back on public diplomacy in the false belief that it was somehow less important to communicate our values. It would be as if Members of this Committee campaigned only to civic leaders in their districts and not to the rank and file voters. Nothing better illustrates this point than the fact that we have apparently convinced leaders in the Muslim world that bin Laden was responsible for September 11th, but poll after poll shows that 80 to 90 percent of the people in the region don't believe that he was responsible.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC That said, all of us are aware that the deep-seated hatred in the Muslim world is no more the result of a communications failure by the United States than the destruction of the World Trade Center was the result of an intelligence failure. It is the result of many conditions: widespread poverty, political repression, the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli dispute. America's involvement in these, whether real or perceived, is more responsible for public opinion in the Muslim world than is American public diplomacy. The fact of the matter is that in most of these countries, as you know, the only acceptable form of political expression has been to be anti-American or anti-Israel.
So what do we do about it? I think there are six courses of action that are central to communicating the message of America.
First, we should heed, I think, the Powell Doctrine from the Persian Gulf War and apply it now to communications. That means we have to have clear objectives and then bring overwhelming force, the full range of resources that we have available to us, to achieve those objectives.
It is unrealistic and counterproductive, I think, short term, to suggest that we can sell American values to the Arab street. We can, however, make a strong case that Osama bin Laden and the terrorist organizations in the Muslim world haven't just hijacked airplanes, but they are trying to hijack Islam itself.
So, to put it in political terms, the short-term campaign should be a negative one, frankly, designed to put the terrorists in a box. And we need not be shy about it. In a culture that above all values family, bin Laden is estranged from his family. He is ostracized from his tribe. He is a terrorist who murders innocent women and children. We should be widely circulating the stories and pictures, for example, of those Muslim children in the United States who lost a parent as a result of the attacks on September 11th. We need to personalize our communications.
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In the long term, our objective should be to encourage a dialogue among Muslims themselves about what are acceptable beliefs and behavior for Islam. We are never going to convince, perhaps, some of the more radical fundamentalists, but we can carefully target those whose opinions are soft, those who are undecided or conflicted. It should be possible to persuade people who are searching for answers that the path these radical elements have chosen is not only incompatible with the teachings of the Koran but antithetical to the kind of world most people want to live in.
Second, we need to reorganize how we manage public diplomacy. Our government apparatus is still caught up in the Cold War when we relied on an infrastructure with assets like Radio Free Europe, the Voice of America and our embassies, primarily, to deliver the message. During those times, we were communicating our values to people willing to acknowledge and able to receive them, people who wanted freedom and democracy.
These are very different times, and I think probably even Norm would agree that just a beefed-up Voice of America alone isn't going to win this war. If we want to bring overwhelming force to the communications battle, we will need a centralized chain of command, not a loose-knit coalition of agencies and departments spread across the government.
I do think, by the way, in that regard that the Coalition Information Center set up by the White House is actually a very important step in the right direction.
Third, we need to tap into the best minds in the field. In our business, we don't make widgets. We depend on the insights and the talents and imagination of individuals. This is a creative process, and every effort needs to be made to recruit the best creative minds to work with the United States government. Reaching out to groups like the Ad Council, creative experts here and creative experts in the Muslim world is critical to this process.
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Fourth, no tactic should be overlooked. CNN recently ran a segment apparently on a pro-bin Laden video game that is becoming popular in many Islamic countries. And whether we counter with our own video games, use commercial advertizing, the Internet, posters, pamphletsyou name itevery tactical approach should be considered that can deliver the right message to the right targets with credibility.
Fifth, just like our military campaign, we can't win a communication campaign without troops on the ground. This campaign is not going to be won on the airwaves alone. We must carry it to the street. Traditional institutions, and including our government particularly, lack the credibility to carry that message. So we are going to have to rely on much more sophisticated recruitment and training of credible people on the groundclerics and youth groups, sports heros and teachers, anyone we can find to help carry the messages.
Finally, we will never succeed without actionable research. I am sure we have warehouses full of research throughout the government. But we need to know more than just what people are hearing and how they are behaving. We need to know what messages and actions can actually change attitudes and behavior and what groups are most receptive to our messages.
So if we do these things, if we commit to using overwhelming force and clear objectives in targeting, if we have centralized planning and a chain of command, if we reach out to the best creative minds here and abroad, if we demonstrate a willingness to employ innovative tactics and sound, actionable research, then I believe America's message will be heard. It is a challenge no less important than any other in the new war on terrorism.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Chairman HYDE. Thank you very much, Mr. Leslie.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Leslie follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF JOHN W. LESLIE, JR., CHAIRMAN, WEBER SHANDWICK WORLDWIDE
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee.
It's a pleasure to be here today. As you noted, I've spent the better part of my career advising organizations and individuals in developing countries on how best to use communications to achieve their public policy objectives. And so, like many others, I've seen that the events of the past two months have brought into sharp and tragic relief the long-term failure of the United States to communicate effectively with the 1.2 billion people of the Muslim world.
And I use the word ''people'' deliberately. For, historically as a nation, we've communicated government to government, not people to people. And it has been exacerbated since the Cold War, when we cut back on public diplomacy in the false belief that it was less important to communicate our values. We're good at talking to the heads of nations, but have overlooked their hearts. It would be as if members of this Committee campaigned only to civic leaders in your districts and ignored rank and file voters. There is no better evidence of this phenomenon than the astounding fact that we aren't reminding those who march against America that our nation went to war against Christian fundamentalists to protect Muslim minorities in places like Bosnia and Kosovo.
That said, most of us are well aware that the deep seated hatred in the Muslim world is no more the result of a communications failure by the United States than the destruction of the World Trade Center was the result of an intelligence failure. It is the result of many conditionswidespread poverty, political repression, the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli dispute and America's involvement in these situations, whether real or perceivedthat are far more responsible for public opinion in the Muslim world than is American public diplomacy. The fact of the matter is that in most of these countries the only acceptable form of political expression has been to be anti-American or anti-Israel.
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So while the antagonism we face in the Muslim world is not entirely our fault, September 11 proved that it is our problem. And it is a problem of both immediate and long-term proportions.
I believe that there are six courses of action that are central to communicating the message of America. They are:
First, apply the Powell Doctrine from the Persian Gulf War to communications;
Second, reorganize management of public policy;
Third, tap into the best minds in communications;
Fourth, don't rule out any tactic;
Fifth, put communications ''troops'' on the ground; and
Sixth, conduct actionable research.
I'll touch briefly on each point.
First, we should heed the Powell Doctrine from the Persian Gulf War and apply it now to communications. We must have clear objectives and then we must bring overwhelming forcethe full range of resources necessaryto achieve those objectives.
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It is unrealisticand probably counterproductiveto suggest that in the short-term we can sell America's values to the Arab street. We can, however, make a strong case that Osama bin Laden and terrorist organizations in the Muslim world haven't just hijacked airplanes, they are trying to hijack Islam itself. So, to put it in political terms, the short-term campaign should primarily be a negative one designed to put the terrorists in a box. We need not be shy about it. In a culture that above all else values family, bin Laden is estranged from his family, ostracized from his tribe, a terrorist who murders innocent women and children. We should be circulating widely the pictures of those Muslim children in the United States who lost a parent during the attacks on September 11. We need to personalize our communications.
In the long-term, our objective should be to encourage a dialogue among Muslims about what are acceptable beliefs and behavior for Islam. We are never going to convince radical Islamic fundamentalists of the benefits of a pluralistic society. But we can carefully target those whose opinions are soft, those who are undecided or conflicted. It should be possible to persuade people who are searching for answers that the path these radical elements have chosen is not only incompatible with the teachings of the Koran, but antithetical to the kind of future most people want to live.
Second, reorganizing how we manage public diplomacy. Our government apparatus is still caught up in the Cold War when we relied upon an infrastructure with assets like Radio Free Europe, the Voice of America and our embassies to deliver our message. During those times, we communicated our values to people willing to acknowledge and able to receive thempeople who wanted freedom and democracy.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC These are very different times. A beefed up Voice of America isn't going to win this war. If we want to bring overwhelming force to the communications battle, we'll need a centralized chain of command, not a loose-knit collection of agencies and departments spread across the government. The Coalition Information Center set-up by the White House is a major step in the right direction.
Third, we need to tap into the best minds in this field. In our business, we don't make widgets. We depend on the insights and talents of individuals. This is a creative process and every effort must be made to recruit the best creative minds to work with the United States Government. Reaching out to groups like the Ad Council here and creative experts in the Muslim world is critical.
Fourth, no tactic should be ruled out. CNN ran a segment recently on a pro-bin Laden video game becoming popular in many Islamic countries. Whether we counter with our own video games, use commercial advertising, the Internet, posters or pamphletsyou name it, every tactical approach should be considered that can deliver the right message to the right targets with credibility. During the democratic revolution in the Philippines, when Corazon Aquino had no access to the media except for Catholic radio, we prompted Ted Koppel on Nightline to run a story about the fact that Marcos bragged about military medals that turned out to be fakes. Marcos was so infuriated, he felt compelled to deny the charge in the Philippine press, making it a campaign issue and a turning point in the campaign. We need to be similarly creative now in using every available tactic at our disposal.
Fifth, just like our military campaign, we cannot win the communications campaign without troops on the ground. This is not a war that will be won on the airwaves alone. We must carry it to the street. Traditional institutions, and certainly our government, lack the credibility needed to carry the message. We must rely on much more sophisticated recruitment and training of credible people on the ground)clerics and youth groups, sports heroes and teachersanyone we can find who can carry our message.
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And finally, we'll never succeed without actionable research. I'm sure we have warehouses full of research throughout the government. But we need to know much more than just what people are hearing and how they are behaving. We need to know what messages and actions can change attitudes and behaviorand what groups are most receptive to our messages.
If we do these things, if we commit to using overwhelming force with clear objectives and targeting, if we have centralized planning and a chain of command, if we reach out to the best creative minds here and abroad, if we demonstrate a willingness to employ innovative tactics and sound, actionable research then I believe America's message will be heard. It is a challenge no less important than any other in the new war against terrorism.
Again, thank you for your invitation to be here today and I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.
Chairman HYDE. Mr. Wehling.
STATEMENT OF ROBERT L. WEHLING, FORMER CHAIRMAN, ADVERTISING COUNCIL, AND RETIRED GLOBAL MARKETING OFFICER, PROCTER & GAMBLE
Mr. WEHLING. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Committee Members, guests.
I currently serve as co-Chair of the Ad Council Advisory Committee which coordinates the bulk of public service ads in the United States. Prior to that, I was Chairman of the Ad Council; and I retired from Procter & Gamble after 41 years in Marketing and Advertising, as Global Marketing Officer.
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My experience with both P&G and the Ad Council proves conclusively that advertising can change attitudes and practices. You need look no further than the Ad Council's success with seat belt usage and drunk driving, or P&G's success with Pampers, Pantene and Tide to see hard evidence of this.
I also believe the Ad Council's current ''I am an American'' campaign is having an impact on attitudes toward others in the wake of the September 11th attack.
I am also convinced that an advertising and communications campaign can be effective in the Middle East, but only if a number of important guidelines are followed. Procter & Gamble has had several successes in the region as a result of following some pretty clear principles.
First, clearly lay out the objective of the effort in writing and state how and when success will be measured.
Second, I cannot overstate the importance of alignment and consistency. Whatever we say must be perceived as messages the entire Administration and Congress support.
Third, our experience suggests that it is very unlikely that there is a single message that will resonate throughout the Arab world. I would urge you to work with a team of Arab Americans here and local professionals in each country to craft messages which are culturally appropriate for each country in the region.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Fourth, don't start writing any messages before getting up-to-date research in each country regarding how people feel, why they feel that way, and what it would take to change their mindsthe same basic point that Jack just made.
Fifth, just as there is no single appropriate message for all of the countries in the region, there is probably no one message that is right for all of the people in a country. Picking the most important target audience for the messages is crucial. Procter & Gamble's success in this region has principally come about because of our focus on women, particularly mothers. That same focus may make sense in this case, because surely the women of the region have had enough of violence and bloodshed.
Sixth, while there is very difficult for many of us to understand, but I think necessary if we are to be successful in any ad campaign, messages which appeal to us here in the United States may not be the most persuasive in the Middle East. For example, while the message of freedom is essential to all in the U.S. and the Western world, it may not be the optimum message over there. While everyone values freedom, there are some who equate excesses and abuses of freedom with excessive consumption and other negative aspects of Western culture.
Seventh, our actions must be fully consistent with our words. If we send messages to the Arab world that communicate friendship and peace, it won't mean anything unless it is accompanied by a major humanitarian effort, a major push for a Palestinian state, and similar activities. And if we aren't willing to deliver this kind of effort, I think we should carefully consider how broadly we want to go with that advertising or PR campaign.
Eighth, we should employ the services of a global ad agency with a proven track record in the Middle East, and be willing to work directly their local offices in the region. Any campaign should be developed and executed by people living in the area and intensely familiar with the people, culture and current attitudes in each area.
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Let me give you two quick examples of why using people on the ground in these countries is key.
Many of you may recall some old campaigns for P&G's Tide detergent. We often used white tablecloths to illustrate how effective Tide was at cleaning. Fortunately, research with local Arab consumers showed that tablecloth usage was in fact very low, and place mats were often used instead. Thus, we were saved from spending lots of money on completely irrelevant advertising.
Likewise, in Pakistan, locals there convinced us to run a detergent campaign which never mentioned cleaning but which instead supported a drive to raise money for needy children; and it was very, very successful because of the commitment to families in that region.
Finally, while I agree with the point you made about bin Laden being a threat to Islam itself, I have most often seen communications efforts succeed when they focus on the positive benefits of our product rather than on the negative aspects of a competitor. Thus, focusing on the evil of bin Laden may not be as compelling to the average person as a real commitment to help improve standards of living, safety and security of the home, food and health care, education and religious freedom.
I would be happy to answer questions.
Chairman HYDE. Thank you very much, Mr. Wehling.
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[The prepared statement of Mr. Wehling follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF ROBERT L. WEHLING, FORMER CHAIRMAN, ADVERTISING COUNCIL, AND RETIRED GLOBAL MARKETING OFFICER, PROCTER & GAMBLE
Chairman Hyde, Committee Members, Guests
My name is Bob Wehling. I currently serve as co-chair of the Ad Council Advisory Committee which coordinates the bulk of public service ads in the U.S. Prior to that I was Chairman of the Ad Council. I retired from Procter & Gamble in August after 41 years in Marketing and Advertising. My most recent position was Global Marketing Officer.
My experience with both P&G and the Ad Council proves conclusively that advertising can change attitudes and practices. You need look no further than the Ad Council's success with seat belt usage and drunk driving, or P&G's success with Pampers, Pantene and Tide to see hard evidence of this. I also believe the Ad Council's current ''I am an American'' campaign is having an impact on our attitudes toward others in the wake of the September 11 attack.
I am absolutely convinced that an advertising and communications program can be effective in the Middle East, but only if a number of important guidelines are followed.
Procter & Gamble has had several successes in the region as a result of the following clear principles.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC First, I cannot overstate the importance of alignment and consistency. Whatever we say must be perceived as messages the entire Administration and Congress support.
[Once the messages are crafted and approved, they need to be delivered over and over and over. As the President has stated, this is not a short term campaign. The messages must be sustained.]
Second, our experience suggests that it is unlikely there is a single message that will resonate throughout the Arab World. I would urge you to work with a team of Arab Americans here, and local professionals in each country to craft messages which are culturally appropriate for each country in the region.
Third, don't start writing messages before getting up to date research in each country regarding how people feel; why they feel that way, and what it would take to change their minds.
[Nothing is more important than spending money on this kind of research upfront to save you ten times as much or more down the road and enhance the odds of success. Again, P&G has had much success using local research agencies in the region and they'd be happy to help make connections.]
Fourth, just as there is no single appropriate message for all the countries in the region, there is probably no one message that's right for all the people in a country. Picking the most important target audience for the messages is crucial. P&G's success in this region has principally come about because of our focus on women, particularly mothers. That same focus may make sense in this case because surely the women of the region have had enough of violence and bloodshed.
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[A secondary target might well be Arab men described as educated and moderate. The moderate voice in the region clearly needs to be nurtured and encouraged. Both of these audiences can be effectively reached by satellite and local TV.]
Fifth, while this is very difficult for all of us to understand, but necessary if we are to be successful in an ad campaign, messages which appeal to us here in the U.S. may not be the most persuasive in the Middle East. While the message of freedom is essential to all in the U.S. and Western World, it may not be the right message over there. Some equate freedom with [hedonism,] excessive consumption, [breakup of nuclear families] and other aspects of Western culture.
Sixth, [at P&G we learned over and over again never to exaggerate the claims for a product. It was and is important to have a product which the consumer really wants, and then advertise it in a way that persuades him or her to try it. If their experience with the product does not meet or exceed their expectations, they won't buy it again. It's that simple. In this case,] our actions must be fully consistent with our words. If we send messages to the Arab world that communicate friendship and peace, it won't mean anything unless it's accompanied by a major humanitarian effort, a major push for a Palestinian State, and other similar activities. If we aren't willing to deliver this kind of effort, we should not unleash an advertising or P.R. campaign.
Seventh, we should employ the services of a global ad agency with a proven track record in the Middle East and be willing to work directly with their local offices in the region. Any campaign should be developed and executed by people living in the area and intensely familiar with the people, culture, and current attitudes, in each area.
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Let me give you two quick examples of why using people on the ground is key:
Many of you may recall some of our old P&G campaigns for Tide Detergent. ''Dirt can't hide from intensified Tide'' or ''Tide's in Dirt's out.'' When we started detergent advertising in the Middle East, we were thinking of similar messages. Fortunately, in depth discussions with advertising professionals in the area made us aware that in many of the desert areas, [and particularly among the Bedouin Tribes,] dirt did not mean the ground as we think of it here. It meant camel dung. Camel dung can't hide from Tide would have bewildered many consumers. Likewise, in Pakistan, locals convinced us to run a detergent campaign which never mentioned superior cleaning, but which instead supported a drive to raise money for needy children. It was very successful.
Finally, I have most often seen communication efforts succeed when they focus on the positive benefits of our product rather than on the negative aspects of a competitor. Thus, focusing on the evil of Bin Laden may not be as compelling to the average person as a commitment to help improve standards of living, safety and security of the home, food and health care, education and religious freedom.
[Can we succeed with an advertising or PR campaign in the Middle East? Yes, but not without a lot of research, the use of Agency Professionals with proven track records in each country, and actions that are aligned with our commitments.]
I would be happy to address questions.
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Chairman HYDE. Mr. Harb.
STATEMENT OF MOUAFAC HARB, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, AL HAYAT NEWSPAPER
Mr. HARB. Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me today.
First, I would like to say that the views I am going to express are mine and do not reflect the editorial line of my newspaper.
Since the September 11th attack, a recurring question in America has been, why do they hate us? Americans are truly baffled. After all, this is a country made up of kind people who are industrious and proud of their high ideals and sense of fairness. The U.S. Bill of Rights is a standard the rest of the world would do well to adopt.
But as we have seen in the last few weeks, these truths are not self-evident. In street demonstrations outside this hemisphere, images of Osama bin Laden are on t-shirts, while symbols of the United States are set on fire.
The United States has launched what it says will be a long military campaign with bombs from the sky and troops on the ground. President Bush and others in the Administration have repeatedly said, this is a war against evil, not against Islam; that the goal is not to harm innocent civilians but to stop the bad men who rule them. The message does not seem to have gotten much traction.
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Again, Americans are baffled. To anyone here, this seems like a no-brainer. Of course bin Laden is a murderer and the Taliban has ruined Afghanistan. How could anybody not agree with that?
What policymakers are missing is a deeper understanding of what the message sounds like when it lands on the ears of Arabs and Muslims. They have heard this one before, and they believed it then. They don't believe it now. They heard it 10 years ago, and the battlefield was Iraq. Then, as now, the conflict was framed as good versus evil and innocent civilians were to be freed from the yoke of an evil man's tyranny.
But to those now in the Arab and Muslim world, that is not how the story turned out. They see it as Americans scoring a military victory and then turning their backs. The bad guy is still in power, and the innocent civilians are much worse off than they used to be. The people you see now wearing bin Laden t-shirts are telling you that they don't want to wind up like the Iraqi peasants.
Example, let's look at a public diplomacy campaign after the Gulf War. The United States wanted to prove that Saddam Hussein was corrupt with no regard for the plight of his people. The hope was that it would help cause an uprising to drive him from power. So people were shown pictures of the collection of palaces that Saddam Hussein had built, big lavish homes with shiny floors and grand staircases. How did that play in the Arab and Muslim world? Poorly.
There was no uprising, but the public relation campaign did get a reaction. It was from the rulers of the other countries in the region. They were shocked. They lived in big palaces, and their people were poor. This was hitting them where they lived, literally.
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The point here is that the message the United States thought it was sending was not the message that was received.
In the meantime, other messages were being sent and received successfully in the Arab and Muslim world. Unfortunately, they were being delivered by bin Laden. He told people that the United States was the source of their problems because of its single-minded affection for Israel and disdain for Muslims; that the United States would use them when it was convenient and sell them out when it was not; and that the United States would buddy up with corrupt regimes.
The United States condemns him as a liar, while he takes maximum advantage of grains of truth. As Shakespeare said, the devil can cite scripture for his purpose.
So what do we do? I would like to highlight a few.
First, stating the obvious, know the audience. America likes to think of itself as a complicated place50 states and 285 million differences of opinion. Now consider the Muslim world1.2 billion living in 60 nations. You cannot expect to win the war of ideas and images here with a strategy of ''media carpet bombing,'' but that is exactly what the U.S. Government is getting ready to do.
Last week, the press got a preview of the public relation tools that the United States planned to use to boost its image. They were brochures, newspaper ads and Web sites.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Forget for a moment how many people in Afghanistan have Internet access. But ask yourself how effective these tools would be in this country? Maybe they are okay for a start, but they are certainly not the answer.
Even McDonalds doesn't try to sell the same thing everywhere. The menus are adjusted from one country to another.
At the very least, the United States should tailor its message for each countrynot only for the language but also for content. Within countries, the United States should have multiple messages crafted to reach a particular segment of society.
Be mindful of the generators of resentment.
I want to highlight three of them: The perception that, in the eyes of the United States, Israel can do no wrong and, with a few exceptions, Arabs and Muslims can do no right.
The perception that the United States pays heed to governments and is deaf to the cries of their people.
The perception that the United States is not a reliable friend.
The United States is seen as a champion of human rights in China, while it is seen as indifferent to them in the Arab and Muslim world. Showing ourselves as consistent and even-handed would go a long way toward helping us.
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Also, the United States often finds it convenient to try to reach people through their national government. This may sometimes be the wrong approach because in some areas of the Arab and Muslim world people don't like or respect their government. But a better rule of thumb may be to find ways of bypassing governments and speaking directly to people.
Establish a resentment index in each country.
Think of this as an early warning system. The United States should be constantly aware of how it is being perceived around the world, just as any good politician wants to keep track of what is going on back home in his or her district.
The U.S. Embassies place a high priority on gathering information. They could do this more effectively. People assigned to American embassies should be encouraged to get out more, mingle, go to the university, the coffee shops and hear what is being said. Know what the buzz is about and when it changes. Once you know that, you can shape your messages accordingly.
Finally, don't treat bin Laden as an equal. Bin Laden has drawn the United States into a battlefield that he has carefully chosen and preparedthe mountains of Afghanistan and the TV sets of Al-Jazeera. He sent a tape to Al-Jazeera, and after a while we begin to follow him there. He speaks, we react. This is powerful imagery, and people who are watching can see it. Don't follow him. Make him follow us. And when we speak of him, we should not frame him in terms of being a head of state or a leader. Instead, make it clear that he is a law enforcement issue. Arabs and Muslims respect power, and they respect justice.
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Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman HYDE. Thank you, Mr. Harb.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Harb follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF MOUAFAC HARB, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, AL HAYAT NEWSPAPER
Since the September 11th attack, a recurring question in America has been, ''Why do they hate us?''
Americans are truly baffled. After all, this is a country made up of kind people who are industrious and proud of their high ideals and sense of fairness. The U.S. Bill of Rights is a standard the rest of the world would do well to adopt.
But as we have seen in the last few weeks, these truths are notto borrow a phraseself-evident. In street demonstrations outside this hemisphere, images of Osama bin Laden are on T-shirts, while symbols of the United States are set on fire.
The United States has launched what it says will be a long military campaign with bombs from the sky and troops on the ground. President Bush and others in the Administration have said repeatedly this is a war against evil, not against Islam; that the goal is not to harm innocent civilians but to stop the bad men who rule them, that message does not seem to have gotten much traction.
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Again, Americans are baffled. To anyone here, this seems like a ''no-brainer.'' Of course bin Laden is a murderer and the Taliban have ruined Afghanistan. How could anybody not agree with that?
What policy makers are missing is a deeper understanding of what the message sounds like when it lands on the ears of Arabs and Muslims.
They've heard this one before, and if they believed it then, they don't believe it now.
They heard it 10 years ago, and the battlefield was Iraq. Then, as now, the conflict was framed as good versus evil, and innocent civilians were to be freed from the yoke of an evil man's tyranny.
But to those now in the Arab and Muslim world, that isn't how the story turned out. They see it as the Americans scoring a military victory and then turning their backs. The bad guy is still in power, and the innocent civilians are much worse off than they used to be. The people you see now wearing bin Laden T-shirts are telling you that they don't want to wind up like the Iraqi peasants did.
As long as we're considering the lesson of history, let's look at a public relations effort after the Gulf War. The United States wanted to prove that Saddam Hussein was corrupt with no regard for the plight of his people. The hope was that it would help cause a popular uprising to drive him from power. So people were shown pictures of the collection of palaces that Saddam built for himself around the countrybig lavish homes with shiny floors and grand staircases.
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How did that play in the Arab and Muslim world?
There was no uprising, but the PR campaign did get a reaction. It was from the rulers of other countries in the region. They were shocked. They lived in big palaces, and their people were poor. This was hitting them where they livedliterally.
The point here is that the message the United States thought it was sending was not the message that was received.
In the meantime, other messages were being sent and received successfully in the Arab and Muslim world. Unfortunately, they were being delivered by bin Laden. He told people that the United States was the source of their problems because of its single-minded affection for Israel and disdain for Muslims; that the United States would use them when it was convenient and sell them out when it wasn't; and that the United States would buddy up with corrupt regimes.
The United States condemns him as a liar, while he takes maximum advantage of grains of truth. As Shakespeare said, ''The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.''
So what do you do?
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would like to highlight a few.
1. Know your audience.
America likes to think of itself as a complicated place50 states and 285 million differences of opinion.
Now consider the Muslim world1.2 billion people living in 60 nations. You cannot expect to win the war of ideas and images here with a strategy of ''media carpet bombing.''
But that is exactly what the U.S. government is getting ready to do. Last week the press got a preview of the PR tools that the United States plans to use to boost its image. They were brochures, newspaper ads and Web sites.
Forget for a moment how many people in Afghanistan have Internet access, but ask yourself how effective these tools would be in this country. Maybe they're OK for a start, but they're certainly not the answer.
Even McDonalds doesn't try to sell the same thing everywhere. The menu is adjusted from one country to another.
At the very least, the United States should tailor its messages for each countrynot only for language but also for content. Within countries, the United States should have multiple messages crafted to reach particular segments of society
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2. Be mindful of the generators of resentment.
There are three:
The perception that in the eyes of the United States, Israel can do no wrong and that with a few exceptions Arabs and Muslims can do no right;
The perception that the United States pays heed to governments and is deaf to the cries of their people;
The perception that the United States is not a reliable friend.
The United States is seen as a champion of human rights in China, while it is seen as indifferent to them in the Arab and Muslim world. Showing yourselves as consistent and even-handed would go a long way toward helping you.
Also, the United States often finds it convenient to try to reach people through their national governments. This may sometimes be the wrong approach because in some areas of the Arab and Muslim world, people don't like or respect their government. A better rule of thumb may be to find ways of bypassing governments and speaking directly to people.
3. Establish a ''resentment index'' in each country.
Think of this as an early warning system. The United States should be constantly aware of how it is being perceived around the world, just as any good politician wants to keep track of what's going on back home in his or her district.
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The U.S. embassies place a high priority on gathering information. They could do this more effectively.
People assigned to American embassies should be encouraged to get out more. Mingle. Go to the universities and the coffee shops and see what's being said. Know what the buzz is about and when it changes.
Once you know that, you can shape your messages accordingly.
4. Don't treat bin Laden as an equal.
Bin Laden has drawn the United States onto battlefields that he has carefully chosen and preparedthe mountains of Afghanistan and the TV sets of Al Jazeera's audience. He sends a tape to Al Jazeera, and after a while we begin to follow him there. He speaks, we react.
This is powerful imagery, and people who are watching Al Jazeera can see it.
Don't follow him. Make him follow you.
And when you do speak of him, don't frame him in terms of being a head of state or a leader. Instead, make it clear that he is a law enforcement issue. Arabs and Muslims respect power, and they respect justice.
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Chairman HYDE. Mr. Romano.
STATEMENT OF JOHN ROMANO, PRODUCER/WRITER
Mr. ROMANO. Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, it is an honor, naturally, to be asked to appear here and to address you on how the entertainment industry might help this Nation with its urgent public diplomacy efforts. We in entertainment, especially those of us in TV, are so often blamed for what is wrong with the country that it is heartening to be asked to offer helpful suggestions.
I believe that we are quintessentially an American industry, and we are also a patriotic one, and I am confident in affirming a great willingness in the creative community of writers, directors, producers to serve our country by helping to communicate who we are and what we are to the world.
All of the good ideas we have begun to hear require calling on this artistic community, and I think that Hollywood really stands ready to answer that call. Ours is a great story, the President said the other night. Let's get it out there. I think there in are numerous ways in which we as professional storytellers can help accomplish that.
No one doubts the tremendous impact that ordinary, first-rate, dramatic television can have. Think of what Roots contributed to this country's sense of its African American citizens and their heritage. Think of what the famous example of the TV movie, The Burning Bed, did in 1984. It was about a battered wife. The day after it aired, literally hundreds of thousands of women came forward and said, this is my life, this is my problem.
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Every week on great shows like The Practice or NYPD Blue or ER we deal in dramatic issues, and millions take sustenance when a show such as those takes on issues like alcoholism or AIDS or assisted suicide. Difficult issues in troubled times really are our stock in trade, and these are the skills we bring to bear now in the important cause of democracy in its present crisis.
As everyone has made clear in their comments, the idea that audiences in the Middle East and elsewhere take much of their ideas of who we are from Americans movies and TV, not produced for public diplomacy purposes, is really central here. I think it is a given, especially in closed societies where American visitors and travel to America are rare, that viewers tend to suppose they are getting a look at the reality of American life when they see those shows. Imagine thinking that you were understanding what America is like by watching those sort of simple-minded action shows that sell so well abroad like Rush Hour II or Beretta or the prime-time soap operaswhich I am sure that many of you can affirm are one of the most common products that you will see in the Middle EastFalcon Crest and Dynasty. Whatever their merits or demerits as entertainment, imagine deriving your notion of America from what you see on that screen.
Yet the impact that these images have is arguably greater than any official description of ourselves and of our values that we offer through speeches or state visits. That is fantastically frightening, it seems to me.
What comes through to people in seeing those shows is an impression not of the humanity that we share with them but only of the plenty and prosperity of our lives. That is how they are looking at ushow we dress, what we own, the cars we drive. They see the fruits of our prosperity without seeing the systems of freedom and opportunity that underlie it, that produce it. They see the plenty without connecting it to the freedom. Images of plenty unaccompanied by such an understanding can and does breed envy, especially when that plenty seems fantastic and unattainable from their point of view, and we all know that envy easily turns into darker emotions. So it is terribly important what images we get out there.
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Right now, we are entirely dependent on the market system for what they will see abroad. I am talking about television now. We do have Voice of America, but on the television front what they will see abroad is what sells abroad and what they will buy abroad, and it is frequently the lowest common denominator product.
It is in our country's interest to see to it that these programs aren't the only ones presented to viewers worldwide. No one is talking about getting in Hollywood's way in making or selling such shows, but let's make sure they are not all that people see in the new satellite and now cable technology that is spreading, indeed, into the Middle East itself.
In keeping with that need, I support especially Mr. Pattiz's suggestion of a 24-hour television transmission through these new technologies, everywhere in the world with our crisis spots in mind.
There are three kinds of programming that I personally would suggest we fill it with, and fill it we can. In the first place, we could select from the best of already existing shows and movies that our entertainment industry has produced and make sure they are seen abroad, whether or not they are purchased abroad.
Secondly, I think we can create some original programming. I say some because it is expensive, whereas the other doesn't seem to be necessarily terribly expensive, but we can do such dramatic, comedic, and historical presentations that are truly representative of our life.
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thirdly, and I think everyone has been heading in this direction, and this is really the most important imperative of the suggestions, we could and should work with foreign television makers, storytellers, writers, directors, assisting them to craft the kind of shows that will answer the questions their citizens, their audiences, have about America, to see and know America.
Let me take a moment more with each of these three programming areas. As for what we can draw from existing shows or movies, there are many that will and do show America in an inspiring light. By this, I don't mean that they praise America, but rather they give the world a look at us. The truth is on our side. If we only accomplish in the public diplomacy goals that you are talking about the drawing aside of the veil of willful misconstruction or of honest misunderstanding that stands in the way of people seeing what our life is like, if we only let them look at how we really are, we will have done a great deal.
I agree with Mr. Leslie that the crafting of messages is very difficult, or selling our philosophy or freedom can be very difficult, but giving them an honest and true look ought not to be difficult. We do that with our cameras every week with varying degrees of success. So we could cull the best of itI have already mentioned The Practice, for instance, with its diverse cast, its appetite for controversial themes, its astute portrayal of our system of freedom under law. Think also of how useful it would be, for instance, for the world to see a movie like Steven Spielberg's Amistad, about the slaveship rebellion of 1836 and its legal aftermath.
In showing Amistad, we'd be saying that we are a Nation of people who, like you, like so many abroad have had to struggle to establish a way of life that is just and fair, and that we have fallen on our face a few times, but that underneath there is a system of government and of justice that enables us to right our course.
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No image could be more attractive or effective than ones that admit our struggles, even our failings. That would be the case for showing old movies like The Grapes of Wrath or Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Admittedly, and this seems to be terribly important, we should show programs that portray America's immigrant and ethnic experience, such as Gary Goldberg's Brooklyn Bridge. Not enough people in America saw that show. But the image of Americans in their transition, I think, is an important way of creating understanding and breaking beyond the Baywatch image of sunny homogeneous beach bunnies.
I think that is an importantthat would be a step forward. I think a show like Third Watch, which is about New York policemen and firemen and really a picture of America's working class, would be great to send out there. They are not buying these shows? Give it to them for free. Let them have access to them, even if they are not on their own shopping list. It is, after all, our interest we'd be serving.
In the second category of original programming, consider a series on the Bill of Rights, 10 shows dramatizing each of the first ten amendments. As long as you don't ask writers to present canned views for content, not to dictate content, writers and producers and directors will come forward. The chance to make films that are truthful and telling and say something will be irresistible.
About the most important third way of providing content is that of working with TV makers abroad to create the shows about America that interest them. I think it is here that we will all be most positive. Imagine a broad-based program that invited them here, introducing them not only to the technical tools of our industry, but especially to its free and creative environment.
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We all know that just the experience of working together will accomplish the people-to-people diplomacy that we are talking about, to some extent. Imagine if one speculates about possible content, a soap opera about an Arab American family, and show it facing challenges, show it facing prejudice. We aren't telling the truth unless we are showing the struggles.
We would by virtue of that very truthfulness, you see, be saying something that could make an immense difference right now, that there is a system called democracy, under which you can live freely and practice your religion, and at the same time pursue for yourself and your family those advantages of modernity and prosperity which truly are advantages. Good education, decent standards of health, a great chance at life for your son and your daughter. The changes that can be wrought by these ventures, these three programming concepts, will not be worked quickly, but I think their cumulative force would be immense. Thank you.
Chairman HYDE. Thank you, Mr. Romano.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Romano follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF JOHN ROMANO, PRODUCER/WRITER
Honorable Chairman, honorable members of the committee
It's an honor to be asked to appear before you today, to address how the entertainment industry might assist the nation in its important, its urgent public diplomacy efforts. We in entertainment, and especially in TV, are so often blamed for what's wrong with the country that it's heartening to be called upon to offer helpful suggestions. We are after all a quintessentially American industry. It's my belief that we're a patriotic one, tooand I am confident in affirming a great willingness in the creative community of writers, actors, directors, to serve our country by helping it communicate who we are and what we are as a people to the world at large. ''Ours is a great story,'' the President has said, ''Let's get it out there.'' I think there are numerous ways in which, as professional storytellers, we can help accomplish that.
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Let me begin by reflecting upon the tremendous impact we do have upon people through the stories we tell and the images we make. Fred Fuchs, former president of American Zoetrope, put this most succinctly to me: ''The media is the most powerful force for change in the world.'' To my mind, the essence of that force is not the technology of our media and information age, exhilarating as its capacities are: It's the emotional impact of story itself.
Everyone remembers how much the series ''Roots'' did, a few decades back, not only to inspire a great pride of heritage in African-Americans, but also to change how their white neighbors looked at them. Later, after the broadcast of the TV movie ''The Burning Bed,'' about a battered wife, it was reported that hundreds of thousands of women came forward seeking help for themselves and their children. They saw their own lives mirrored in that fictional one, and it helped them find the courage and self-esteem to change. Similarly, today, when great dramatic shows such as ''ER,'' or ''NYPD Blue,'' or ''The Practice'' take on difficult themes, such as assisted suicide or alcoholism or AIDs, people in the millions take sustenance from the tough clarity, the sympathy, the intelligence with which these issues are engaged by Hollywood TV-makers.
In my own experience the power of our stories is essentially intimate. On a show of mine called ''Class of '96,'' we did an episode on campus anti-Semitism, about holocaust-deniers and abusive humor aimed at Jewish students. The subject was not a ratings-getter, and I'm not sure how the advertisers felt, but we thought it was a story worth telling. It was written by a German-American, the director was a woman, and black, and the series was created by me, the grandson of Italian immigrants. Afterwards I received a call from one of our industry's most imposing executives, a man not known for easy displays of emotion. But I'll never forget the sound of his voice, choked with feeling, as he said, ''As a Jew, I thank you.'' Difficult issues in troubled times are our stock in trade. The art of what we do consists in communicating, not mainly information about those issues, which can be found elsewherebut the emotions involved, the individual lived life. That is where we have our greatest impact, and that's the craft we can bring to bear in the great cause of supporting our democracy in its current crisis.
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That foreign audiences take much of their idea of who we are from our movies and TV is a given. Epecially in closed societies where American visitors and travel to America are rare, viewers can suppose they're getting a look at the reality of American life, no matter how outrageous or exaggerated the material is. Imagine trying to get an understanding of America from simple-minded action shows which are so popular everywhere, such as ''Rush Hour II,'' or ''Baretta,'' or from old prime-time soap-operas like ''Falcon Crest'' or ''Dynasty.'' And yet the impact these images have is arguably greater than the official description of ourselves and our values that we offer through speeches or state visits. What comes through to people abroad watching such shows is an impression, not of the humanity that we share with them, but only of the plenty and prosperity of our liveshow we dress, what we own, the cars we drive. They see the fruits of our prosperity without seeing the systems of freedom and opportunity that underlie it, that produce it. They see the plenty without connecting it to the freedom. Now, images of plenty, unaccompanied by understanding, can breed envy, especially when that plenty seems unattainable; and we all know that envy easily turns into darker emotions. So it's terribly important what images we get out there. Right now we are entirely dependent on the market system: What they'll see abroad is what sells abroadwhich is often the lowest common-denominator product. And without restricting Hollywood's freedom to sell such shows, I think we can all agree on one thing: it is in our country's interest to see to it that these images aren't the only ones presented to audiences worldwide.
Having affirmed the entertainment industry's ability and willingness to be of help, let me pause here to note something that lies outside our abilities, and that is the creation and production of ''propaganda.'' It's just not something we do well. At our best, our shows tend to show the diversity, complexity, the multi-voiced quality of American life, with its clash of viewpoints: that clash is the sound of a free society, and it's both the truest and the most attractive picture of ourselves we can provide.
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What kinds of film and television programming can best promote America's image abroad, the image we'd like people to have? And when I say ''the image we'd like them to have,'' that's equivalent to saying the ''true'' image, because the truth is very much on our side here. If in our efforts at public diplomacy we succeed only in drawing aside the veils of misrepresentation and of honest cultural misunderstanding that obscure our way of life, then we will have done a good deal.
It seems to me there are three kinds of programming we should seek to make available. In the first place, we should select the best of those already-existing shows and movies that are not being seen abroad. Secondly, I would create original programmingdramatic, comedic, historicalthat is truly representative. Thirdlyand this is the most important and most imperative of my suggestionswe could work with foreign storytellers, writers, directors, television makers, assisting them to craft the kinds of shows that will show them what they and their fellow-citizens wish to see and know about America.
Let me take a moment with each of these categories. As for what we could draw from existing shows or movies, there are many that show America in a desireable lightand by this I don't mean that they ''praise'' America, but rather that they give the world a look at America as it really is, in light of what we value most. For instance, I have already mentioned ''The Practice,'' with its diverse cast, its appetite for controversial themes, its astute portrayal of our system of freedom-under-law. Think also of how useful it would be for the world to see a movie like Steven Spielberg's ''Amistad,'' about a rebellion on a slave ship in 1836 and its legal aftermath. We'd be saying that we're a nation of people who, like so many abroad, have had to struggle to establish a way of life that is just and fair, and that we've fallen on our face a few times, but that underneath there's a system of government and of justice that enables us to right our course. No image could be more attractive or effective than the ones that admit our struggles, even our failings. That would be the case for showing old movies like ''The Grapes of Wrath,'' as well as the noble ''Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.'' Let us also, and this seems to me terribly important, provide shows that treat America's immigrant and ethnic experience, like ''Brooklyn Bridge.'' Or how about airing episodes of ''Third Watch,'' about New York's firemen and cops? Think of how difficult it would be for America's detractors to claim that racism and prejudice are rampant and unopposed here, if their own people were running home to watch episodes of ''Third Watch,'' half of whose heroic leads are Latino or black. This is crucial: If they're not buying a show like ''The Practice,'' or ''ER,'' let's give it to them for free. It's our own interest we'd be serving.
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In the category of original programming, consider a series on the Bill of Rights, dramatizing each of the first ten amendments. As long as we don't ask writers to present canned views, if we're content not to dictate content, we will find that writers and producers will themselves will propose such projects. The chance to make films that are truthful or telling, and to say something that matters, will be irresistible.
About the third way of providing contentthat of working with TV-makers abroad, to create the shows about America which interest themI am most positive. Imagine a broad-based program that invited them here, introducing them not only to the technical tools of our industry, but especially to its free, creative environment. We all instinctively know that just the experience of working together, sharing expertise, learning from each other, will have positive effects in the public diplomacy arena: people to people, not government to government. Whatever we would be teaching them, they would be teaching us what images work for the audiences in their countries. Imagine, for example, that the result of such co-creation was a soap operaa popular form in the Middle East, as I've mentionedabout the family life of Arab-Americans. Let the family face genuine difficulties, even prejudice. We aren't telling the truth unless we're showing the struggles. And we would by virtue of that very truthfulness be saying something that could make an immense difference right now: that there is a system called democracy, under which you can live freely, and practice your religion, and at the same time pursue for yourself and your family those advantages of modernity and prosperity which truly are advantagesa good education, decent health standards, and a great chance at life for your sons and daughters.
I've described three kinds of programmingnew, old, and foreign co-creations. The changes that can be wrought by such ventures will not be worked quickly, but their ultimate, cumulative force would be immense. I repeat that we have truth on our sideas well as the shared humanity of the globe, and the commonality, the universality, of the pleasure that all people take in story and image.
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Chairman HYDE. I cannot help interject that if resonance had any meaning, it certainly occurred when you mentioned Amistad, because I think Anthony Hopkins' closing argument to the Supreme Court was magnificent, a lesson in the Bill of Rights. It was powerful and unforgettable.
Mr. ROMANO. In World War II, when the old WI was gathering its forces, people like Archie Maglease said let's show them race riots. Let's show them labor struggles. I don't think it was a great way to fight Nazism, but it might be a way of saying to people we are not just riding in shiny cars having a good time. There is a kind of freedom that underwrites that. We have a problem and then we have a speech by Anthony Hopkins. I think that is a very humanizing, human face sort-of message.
Chairman HYDE. Yes, indeed. Well, thank you so much. We will now go to questions from the Members. I want to admonish you to try to be brief. We have a practice of 4 1/2 minute questions, and then 20 minutes answers, and we don't get to everybody who would like to ask questions. So out of deference to your colleagues, I plead with you to be brief. And that has no particular reference to Mr. Lantos.
Mr. LANTOS. I appreciate that, Mr. Chairman. I want to commend the panelists' very valuable points. I shall try to be very concise and stay within my 5 minutes. First, Mr. Chairman, I would ask unanimous consent to put into the record an extraordinary analysis of public diplomacy in the Middle East by Dr. Robert Satloff.
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Chairman HYDE. Without objection.
[The information referred to follows:]
October 30, 2001
Analysis of Near East policy from the scholars and
associates of THE WASHINGTON INSTITUTE
DEVISING A PUBLIC DIPLOMACY CAMPAIGN TOWARD THE MIDDLE EAST:
PART IBASIC PRINCIPLES
By Robert Satloff
(Part I of this two-part PolicyWatch discusses the principles that should govern a public diplomacy campaign for the Middle East; tomorrow, Part II will address the core elements such a campaign should include.)
The appearance of senior U.S. officials on the Qatari-based al-Jazeera satellite news channel is the first sign that Washington is taking seriously the need for enhanced ''public diplomacy'' as a vital component in the war against terrorism. In this arena, however, urgency needs to be tempered with realism. Rushing to enhance public diplomacy efforts without a clear understanding of objectives, constraints, sequence, and the different means at the government's disposal risks not only a dispersal of effort and wasted resources but, in the worst case, actually ceding important ground in the ''hearts-and-minds'' campaign. In devising public diplomacy toward the Middle East, the key to success will be to marry the principles of ''make haste, slowly'' and ''do no harm.''
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Objective. In general, a public diplomacy campaign waged in the current political context ought to have three basic components:
1. Explaining U.S. policy, candidly and without apology. America has a strong, positive record on issues of concern to Arabs and Muslims and should make its case. Washington should be justifiably proud of its military efforts to defend Muslim populations in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Kuwait; the health, welfare, and infrastructure improvements purchased by the tens of billions of dollars of assistance to the largest Arab state, Egypt; and the mutually beneficial relations it has with governments from Nigeria to Turkey to Indonesia. Similarly, the United States should not shy away from explaining its support for Israel and its generation- old effort to promote a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the Arab-Israeli dispute, nor should it flinch from highlighting the ongoing threat that Saddam Husayn poses to his people and the wider region and the need to maintain tight constraints on Saddam's ability to act on his oft- stated ambitions.
2. Providing alternative sources of credible, factual, relevant information, especially about the wider world but also about the local countries in which listeners and viewers live. Rather than seek to compete with the sensationalism that characterizes Arab satellite television stations, U.S.-produced news should be presented in a professional and dispassionate manner, but one that highlights free and open debate among responsible political elements. For reasons outlined below, programming should be country-specific, as much as possible.
3. Projecting those core U.S. values that characterize U.S. society, especially tolerance, openness, meritocracy, and civic activism. This is a much more modest objective than aspiring to enlist popular support for U.S. policy throughout Arab and Muslim societies or to build future pro- American governments in the region. The objective here should be to expose Middle Easterners to information about the American way of life and to provide local populations with a choice about how they wish to develop their own societies, not that the United States is going to impose that choice on them. While the United States cannot award every Middle Easterner a visa, U.S. public diplomacy can give every reader, listener, and viewer a portal into the American way of life, providing them with an opportunity to learn that functioning, flourishing alternatives exist to their generally closed and illiberal societies.
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Context. The first step in devising a public diplomacy campaign to complement the ''war on terror'' is to recognize the complexity of the challenge; the distinction between target-states and target-peoples; and fundamental differences between the current situation and the U.S.- Soviet ideological struggle of years past.
1. The targets in the current situation are populations of states whose governments range from those that are, more or less, supportive of U.S. security interests (e.g., Egypt, Saudi Arabia) to those that are inimical to our interests (e.g., Syria, Iran).
2. In terms of public diplomacy, the distinction between allies and adversaries is blurred. Both friendly and unfriendly states alike fend off domestic criticism of internal problems by offering wide latitude to anti- Americanism in all spheres of public discourse, especially media, culture, religion, and education. While this does not obviate the very real problem of animosity to U.S. policy in many corners of the Middle East, this does mean that U.S. public diplomacy will face an uphill battle in almost every Middle Eastern state.
3. In general, civil society organizations that, in other cultures and at other times, might be ready partners for U.S. public diplomacy either cannot or will not play that role in the current Middle East context. Some are Islamist in orientation and are avowedly anti-American. Many others, especially those involved in local health and welfare service delivery, are predominantly nonpolitical and must remain that way to avoid running afoul of the regime. Sadly, to the extent that they exist, the Walensas, Sharanskys, and Havels of the Middle East are not generally friendly to U.S. Middle East policy. Ironically, those most naturally sympathetic to the United States may be found in organizations connected to, though not directly part of, the regime, as well as in the business communities, though these organizations are also likely to make a distinction between U.S. values (which they appreciate) and U.S. policies (which they oppose). The bottom line is that organized civil society will not be a strong ally in this effort, though a handful of groups may support specific initiatives and deserve U.S. engagement.
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Taken together, all this suggests the need for extreme humility in devising a public diplomacy campaign targeted toward the states and peoples in the Middle East. Thankfully, this region of the world is less critical to current U.S. military operations than was the case with the Gulf War a decade ago; today, the key Muslim-majority states in terms of the U.S. military effort are Pakistan and Uzbekistan, not Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless, the Arab Middle East still needs to be a central concern because of other current U.S. interests and because the campaign against terror may before long turn its focus here. Nevertheless, as one pundit has noted, this part of the globe is undergoing a ''clash within civilization,'' which any U.S. outreach effort can affect only on the margins and only over time.
Four immediate policy consequences emerge from the above:
1. The state-supported anti-Americanism of existing media/religious/educational elite institutions throughout the region means that any public diplomacy effort begins with the White House. Unless bilateral diplomacy addresses this issue at the highest levels - that is, unless the president and his senior aides are willing to raise with leaders of Egypt and other states the need to purge state-run media of its rampant anti-Americanism (and anti-Semitism), the need for the leaders themselves to adopt clear public stands against these noxious trends, and the need for friendly regimes to lower the vast array of bureaucratic barriers they place in the way of U.S. engagement with local NGOs and ordinary peoplethen there is little chance that America's own public diplomacy campaign will register much success.
2. As much as possible, efforts at public diplomacy under the broad rubric of ''Arab world'' or ''Muslim world'' should be rejected in favor of country-specific initiatives. This flows from the fact that a key subtext of U.S. regional strategy should be to avoid feeding into transnational tides of pan-Arabism or pan-Islamism in favor of evolutionary political and economic change within existing state structures and national borders. On a practical level, it is important to recognize how diverse the Middle East actually is and, for example, to avoid lumping together the vastly different cultures and societies of Casablanca, Aleppo, Muscat, and Riyadh under the simplistic category of ''Arab'' or ''Muslim.''
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3. Focusing on individual states, however, will pose its own set of problems. The difficulty of directing regime-specific messages (except via national ''surrogate radio stations'' like Radio Free Iraq) will perforce dictate a lowest-common- denominator form of public diplomacy throughout the region, so as not to provoke insurrectionary sentiment in countries where it could backfire against U.S. interests. Even so, the administration is still going to face stiff opposition, primarily from ''friendly regimes'' who are likely to view an enhanced public diplomacy effort as meddlesome interference in local affairs.
4. The paucity of local partners, even in countries with significant civil society institutions (such as Morocco, Iran, or the Palestinian Authority) will reinforce the need to focus both on broad target groups (e.g., youth, women) and on themes which appear non-threatening but which have significant political content in the long run (e.g., education, community action, and tolerance).
In general, those devising a U.S. public diplomacy campaign targeted to Arab and Muslim-majority states (as well as to Muslim minorities elsewhere) should avoid two themes:
1. that Americans (even American Muslims) know Islam better than other Muslims do. It makes little sense for U.S. political leaders to preach to Middle Eastern Muslims that Osama bin Laden does not represent ''true Islam.'' That message will resonate only if broadcast by moderate Muslim clerics within the societies in which listeners/viewers live. U.S. diplomacy should actively engage with local religious leaders to convince them (or cajole local political leaders to convince their own local religious leaders) to issue clear statements against extremism and violence, which will be much more powerful than protestations about Islam by U.S. politicians. (It is essential that such condemnations not be limited to the events of September 11; to be lasting and powerful, they should address all terrorismthat is, all attacks on civilians, regardless of political context or alleged objective.) The more appropriate role for American Muslims in U.S. public diplomacy is to advertise the religious tolerance of U.S. society and the freedom within America to debate U.S. policy.
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2. that America is keen to understand why so many in the region ''hate us.'' While journalists are keen to hype the anti-Americanism of local populations, it is both self- defeating and analytically unproven to assume that large majorities in the Arab and/or Muslim worlds detest the United States. That many, probably most, Middle Easterners are critical of specific U.S. policies is neither new nor a surprise, given America's status as the sole superpower, arbiter of global culture, and engine of a globalization process in which the Middle East participates only marginally. At the same time, as the small but vocal and politically active class is avowedly anti-American, the large ''silent majority'' of Arabs and Muslims most likely relishes the idea of coming to America, knows little about the reality of American life, and is exposed only to the caricature of U.S. policies they see on local media. In short, there is a difference between opposition and hate, and to the extent they hate, they hate a phantom.
Exacerbating the challenge for U.S. policymakers is the fact that the most obvious and logical resource for public diplomacy to the Middle Eastthat is, the professional class of U.S. experts on contemporary Middle East politics and societyis generally (though not uniformly) hostile to U.S. Middle East policy. Most would cause more mischief than good should they be entrusted with creating and implementing a public diplomacy campaign. As a rule, seeking out scholars and policy practitioners who can provide a robust explanation of U.S. policy, even if they are not necessarily ''Middle East experts,'' should be a higher priority than putting on display for Middle Easterners the diversity of U.S. views that is a hallmark of our democracy.
Robert Satloff is the executive director of The Washington Institute.
Page 82 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCTHE WASHINGTON INSTITUTE for Near East Policy
1828 L Street Suite 1050
Washington, D.C. 20036
(202) 452-0650 FAX (202) 223-5364
October 31, 2001
Analysis of Near East policy from the scholars and associates
of THE WASHINGTON INSTITUTE
DEVISING A PUBLIC DIPLOMACY CAMPAIGN TOWARD THE MIDDLE EAST:
PART IICORE ELEMENTS
By Robert Satloff
(Part II of this two-part PolicyWatch discusses the core elements of a public diplomacy campaign for the Middle East; yesterday, Part I outlined the principles that should govern such a campaign.)
There are three basic elements of an integrated public diplomacy campaignmedia, education, and exchange. More needs to be done in each arena. But before the government falls prey to the appeal of waging ''information warfare'' via the airwaves as the main way to complement the military campaign now underway, it would be wise to invest in three areas first: making America's diplomats take seriously the goal of public outreach abroad and mandating the language requirements to make that possible; restoring funding and urgency to educational and exchange programs of proven success; and developing ways to engage the next generation of Middle Easterners, especially through English education and American studies programming. After all, the battle for hearts and minds, like the war on terror, is a long-term project.
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The easiest target for enhanced public diplomacy is broadcastingthat is, television and radiobut this is also the most delicate, difficult, and, potentially, the most problematic. In a perfect world, the U.S. government would compete for Middle Eastern listeners and viewers with its own network of powerful FM radio stations and satellite television channels that wins audience by appealing to the current tastes of Arabic-, Persian-, and Turkish-speaking Generation Xers and then provides educational, informational, cultural, and entertainment programming that expands minds and wins hearts. Regrettably, this is precisely what the U.S. government is ill suited to do. While the United States has a strong, if uneven, record in terms of surrogate radio to adversary states, broadcasting to strategically friendly but politically ambiguous states is much more difficult. Success would require a news organization as well-heeled, fleet- footed, and hi-tech as al-Jazeera, trying to win the sort of credibility that it took the BBC decades to acquire.
One obvious impediment will be personnel and oversight. Done properly, pro-U.S. radio and television would require hiring scores of Arab journalists and technicians to maintain local bureaus in many Arab and Muslim countries, providing the raw material for the local news and features that would give U.S. broadcasting its unique appeal. This runs two types of risks: either that the correspondents ''go local'' and fail to project adequately the pro-U.S. message that is the rationale for the station, or that they (and their families) find themselves subject to enormous pressureboth directly and indirectly, overt and subtlefrom local governments or nongovernmental political groups. (The pressure would be magnified in the event that U.S. radio or television tries to establish full-scale broadcast centers in the Middle East, as was the original intent of the new Middle East Radio Network soon to be launched by the Broadcasting Board of Governors.) In either case, finding and keeping the proper balance, without either subjecting staff to life-threatening situations or provoking the ire of Congress when broadcasts are not sufficiently pro-American, is a herculean task.
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In the near term, it is important to enhance existing Voice of America programming to the Middle East and to proceed with the BBG's new radio initiativeunder careful and ongoing supervisionso as to test the practicability of the concept. But it is at least as important and no less urgent to pursue lower-profile, lower-cost, less labor-intensive media work that is likely to provide more lasting ''bang'' for the public diplomacy ''buck.'' This means building on opportunitiespeople, programs, and technologythat already exist. Operationally, this includes:
Providing career incentives for local diplomats, especially ambassadors, to do television, radio, and media outreach. Currently, the incentive structure works the wrong way, as ambassadors and other diplomats can get in trouble if they stray from anodyne State Department guidance but score few career points if they make media outreach a major focus. Instead, the State Department should borrow from the Pentagon model, legislated in the Goldwater-Nichols military reform act, that required officers with ''joint'' service to be promoted at least as fast as those without, thereby making ''joint'' service a career-enhancer rather than a dead end. In this context, the State Department should implement (perhaps as a result of new legislation) new policies making good performance at appearing on local media a major factor in the promotion process.
Regularizing the appearance of senior government officials on major foreign media. While the U.S. government should be modest about developing its own satellite television capability, it should assiduously take advantage of the scores of Middle East journalists -print and electroniceager to air and publish the comments of U.S. officials. With a well-run public diplomacy program, appearances on regional broadcasting by the secretary of state and the national security advisor will be as routine as their appearance on Sunday morning network talk shows. Also, funding should be found to provide media trainingby both U.S. professionals and local expertsto U.S. diplomats in the field.
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Improving language skills of foreign service officers. The best public diplomacy efforts will fail if diplomats abroad lack language skills to relate to local media and, more generally, to engage ordinary people. In current practice, there is little incentive or support for improving language skills above a 3.0 rating, which is adequate for conversation but not for television or radio appearances. A target goal should be to improve the language skills of 10 percent of FSOs to a 4.0 or higher. This would require additional funds for training facilities and teachers, the time for FSOs to spend upgrading their skills, and the salary incentives to encourage language expertise, especially in strategically important languages like Arabic, Persian, Chinese, and the Turkic family of languages.
Funding programs and staff to restore or expand local- language magazines, translation programs, websites, and e- zines, whose budgets have been cut or lost ground to inflation in recent years. A key area is to expand programs to provide both original and translated articles to local and regional newspapers. (A State Department official recently confided that if five major Arabic newspapers or newsweeklies offered the U.S. government an ''American page'' to fill as it sees fit, it would take a year before any printable copy could be produced, given existing staffing and responsibilities.) In general, the decision to sacrifice printed materials to push internet-based programming was a mistake, given that the Middle East is one of the world's least-linked parts of the world. Middle Easterners read, and the written messagein contrast to broadcastingcan be recycled for multiple users.
Curiously, thousands of U.S. students may study in Middle Eastern studies programs at the undergraduate and graduate level, but remarkably few Middle Eastern students study in American studies programs. In fact, the first graduate- level, certificate-granting program in American studies was just established in September 2000, at the University of Jordan in Amman. Individual courses exist here and thereprimarily at elite schools like the American Universities of Cairo and Beirut, often taught by traveling Fulbright scholarsand a small number of U.S. universities are working to set up local branches or specialized professional schools. But despite these modest programs, the sad fact is that the vast majority of Arab university students have no opportunity to learn about American government, politics, society, or culture. (The U.S. government, for example, has never had an educational partnership grant linked to a Gulf state.) And the situation is, perhaps, even worse for the tens of millions of Middle Easterners in primary or secondary school.
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That the people of the Middle East understand better how U.S. society works should be critically important to U.S. public diplomacy. Two priorities should be to promote such programs at major Middle East universities and to establish new avenues for cooperation with local educators to inject American studies modules into primary and secondary education. The U.S. government should begin to fund such programs with large grants to establish libraries and multi- year acquisition programs.
Two problems are finding adequately trained, politically reliable staff and finding the right mechanism to create programs at state-run universities where anti-Americanism runs high. At the beginning, it may be useful for the government to encourage a consortium of U.S. universities to work together to establish a network of distance- education programs (i.e., via internet) associated with local universities. Over time, full-scale programs could be established by leveraging public funds with private foundation grants. Perhaps the most important aspect will be finding a mechanism to entice students who may be skeptical about job prospectsafter all, what do you do in Cairo, Casablanca, or Muscat with a degree in American studies? Here, the U.S. government should work hand-in-hand with local American chambers of commerce and local branches of U.S. nongovernment institutions throughout the Middle East to establish mentoring and internship programs with a goal of guaranteeing a job to every graduate of an American studies program.
An especially high priority should be placed on investing in expanded English-language training programs throughout the region. English is the gateway into American culture and the global community, and expanding access to it for Middle Easterners provides the best chance for the success of all other public diplomacy efforts. Given that the content of much English teaching material focuses on sympathetic themes like democracy, free markets, and American studies, this provides double bang for the bucknot only do students equip themselves with an essential language tool to compete in the global economy, but they familiarize themselves with U.S. culture, politics, and society in the process. Additional funding for ''teaching the teachers'' programs will be money well spent.
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(One specialized area where a U.S. initiativeworking in tandem with U.S. and local Arab educatorscan make headway is in Holocaust education for Arab students. A survey of Holocaust and tolerance-related institutions here and abroad reveals that not a single module, text, or program for Holocaust education exists in an Arab country, even within the context of studying twentieth-century history, ''genocides'' around the world, or tolerance education -perhaps one reason why there is so much misinformation, let alone denial, on the subject throughout the Middle East.)
At the same time, the U.S. government should do more to attract students to colleges and universities inside the United States, direct them to appropriate programs, and provide guidance, counseling, and, one should note, thorough oversight throughout their stay (and until their departure). This would require developing educational advising networks at U.S. embassies throughout the region, raising the level of expertise of overseas advisors, establishing full-time postings for regional educational coordinators, and equipping posts with up-to-date technology. And once in the United States, Middle Eastern students comprise an excellent target audience for special public diplomacy outreach programs, such as regular lectures by U.S. officials at universities with large Middle Eastern student populations.
Regrettably, one of the lessons of September 11, evidenced by the months and years spent in America by the perpetrators, is that familiarity does not always breed sympathy, let alone friendship. Nevertheless, exchange programs have, over time, proven to be useful and relatively cost-effective tools in building positive relationships, one person at a time. Indeed, that is the secret of their success -they need to be well targeted, individually designed, long enough to make a lasting impression, but not too long.
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One fine program that deserves expansion is the Humphrey Fellowships, which bring mid-career professionals to the United States. With extra funding, overseas posts can identify a wider range of prospects, especially in the fields of NGO development, public health, journalists, education, and the environment. Here, it is important to seek out future and potential leaders to bring to America and not use fellowships to award personal friendships already made or to provide payback to political cronies of local officials. U.S. diplomats abroad need to be especially creative about recruiting such fellows, using the program both to encourage incipient signs of pro- Americanism and as a corrective measure for people whose critical views are not well entrenched. Reaching out to less traditional applicants beyond the upper-crust elite would be beneficial, not least to encourage an appreciation for meritocracy as a core American value.
International visitor programs are also useful and constructive, but they too need to be more targeted than has been the case in recent years. Due to budget cuts, visitors have been lumped together into large and often unwieldy groups, sometimes with participants from a dozen or more countries. The result has been that visitors often learn much about other cultures and countries from their fellow visitors but less about U.S. society. In general, it is better to provide specialized (and more expensive) programming to a smaller group for a shorter time than a less carefully designed program to a larger group for a larger period of time. Targeted groups should include journalists, educators, legislators, judges, and community leaders. A special focushere and throughout the public diplomacy campaign -needs to be made on women and youth.
Sending Americans abroad to act as goodwill ambassadors can be beneficial, too, though the political sensitivities are higher than hosting foreign visitors (i.e., every American sent abroad is assumed to represent the U.S. government) and a series of one-off contacts with a visiting American is less likely to leave a lasting impression than an immersion visit by a Middle Easterner to the United States. Sending Americans as goodwill ambassadors abroad requires especially close vetting. There are three categories of such private individuals: practical ambassadors (e.g., town managers, civic leaders, local health and education officials), cultural ambassadors (e.g., musicians, artists), and educational ambassadors (e.g., professors speaking on U.S. Middle East policy, American Muslims lecturing on religious tolerance in the United States). The first group should be most highly prized and preferred. In general, the first and second together are far more importantand pose much less risk of funding the wrong type of spokespersonthan the third. Also, to take full advantage of such visits, it is important that special consideration be given to facilitating ongoing, follow-up relations between visitors and local contacts, creating long-term, multi-year theme programs rather than a series of disparate speakers and topics, and studying ways to deepen the value of such exchanges.
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In a public diplomacy campaign, like the war against terror itself, there will be no quick victories and few demonstrable successes. In devising this campaign, it is better to get it right than to do it fast; better to make incremental progress than risk damage through grandiose schemes gone awry; and better to draw on the expertise of those who have been successful in other parts of the globe at other periods of time rather than leave the project to regionalists who may be more committed to understanding local cultures than projecting our own. Even with maximum funding, the cumulative impact of all the initiatives described above will only be felt over time and, regrettably, on the margin. But it is important that the United States make the effort to provide Middle Easterners with the opportunity to know about our politics, government, policies, and way of life and, on that basis, to make informed choices about their support for or opposition to the United States and how they wish to build their own future and own societies.
Robert Satloff is the executive director of The Washington Institute.
THE WASHINGTON INSTITUTE for Near East Policy
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(202) 452-0650 FAX (202) 223-5364
Mr. LANTOS. Mr. Chairman, many of the observations here were very well taken. But I would like to raise some other issues that may be more difficult. I am talking about core U.S. values such as pluralism, nondiscrimination, tolerance, openness, meritocracy. If you look at any one of these, it is self-evident that most, if not all, Arab countries and Muslim societies and their leaders are desperately opposed to these values. Saudi Arabia cannot be viewed as a meritocracy. Saudi Arabia cannot be viewed as a society which is nondiscriminatory, which is pluralistic, which is open.
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So I think we are making a very serious mistake in analyzing this problem of how we handle public diplomacy more effectively if we do not begin with the assumption that many of the core values of American society are fundamentally opposed to the values and views reflected, to a very large extent, by the governments and leaders of these societies, and to some extent by their religious leaders. It is self-evident that the madrassas in Pakistan and elsewhere paid for by the Saudis do not teach pluralism and tolerance. They teach nonpluralism, intolerance, and hate of others.
So I think it is a very difficult task we have to undertake because there is perhaps not a clash of civilizations, as Sam Huntington put it in his brilliant book, but a clash of values. And to sweep under the rug the clash of values, I don't think, is very helpful.
Secondly, I think it is self-evident that in failing to get through with our public diplomacy, we must place much of the blame on the ruling governments in the region, which through their school books and through their controlled media, teach hatred and lies. The last three wars of the United States were undertaken on behalf of Muslim populations. Kuwait is a Muslim country; we sent half a million troops there to kick out Saddam Hussein. That half-a-million contingent protected the very existence of Saudi Arabia, and to have this sort of forgotten, swept under the rug, not dealt with, is an outrage.
My feeling is that we should not just engage in beating our breasts and saying mea culpa. Part of our public diplomacy has to be, however difficult that is, conveying our core values, which are diametrically opposed to the core values perpetrated by the leadership, both political and religious, of these societies. I would be grateful if you could comment on it.
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One final point, I think it was one of you who said that we are perceived to be as noncaring. Well, to Egypt alone, we have given tens of billions of dollars of economic assistance on top of all the military assistance. The fact that this is not explained to the people, that it is not gratefully recognized, is certainly not the fault of the American government. I think it is important to underscore that this has been a society whose core values are profoundly feared by the religious and political leadership of many of the countries we deal with because they are diametrically opposed to our core values, and they like to soft-pedal all of the things we have done for their people, certainly in the medical field, and in a thousand other arenas. I think we create a very erroneous impression if we say we have made all these horrible mistakes in not conveying our public diplomacy intelligently. I would be grateful for any answer.
Chairman HYDE. Would the gentleman yield briefly?
Mr. LANTOS. I would be delighted to yield, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman HYDE. I want to say that I agree with every word you said, but I differ in perhaps the conclusion. I think we must remember what we are trying to do. We are not trying to instruct the world on the proper culture to haveand it being ours. We can't do that. We would be foolish to try to do that. Yes, there is a clash of values. And until cultures change, there will always be a clash of values. We are trying to root out terrorism as an entity in the world that causes civilized people to live in fear.
So we must look within these varying cultures to find out what we have in common. They hate terrorism. A proper interpretation of the Koran is to protect innocent people, not to kill them ruthlessly. Look for areas of a commonality and agreements and stress them, how we share with them. Therefore we should reinforce each other where we can, without attempting to bite off too much by having respect for women, which is a very important fundamental core belief. But in countries like Saudi Arabia and others, their culture is different.
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Maybe by example and by opening up our society to them in terms of communications, we may have an influence on them. It may take generations. I think if we confront them with our values and urge their superiority, we will make the situation not amenable to solution. But I have raised a fundamental point, the clash of values, not a clash of civilizations, a clash of values and cultures. But anyway, that is a little comment I wanted to make. And to whom are you addressing your question?
Mr. LANTOS. I would be pleased to have any of our guests respond. I would just like to add a footnote, if I may, to your extremely valued comment, Mr. Chairman, which I fully share. I am not so certain that there is universal disapproval of terrorism. The quintessential terrorist at the moment is clearly Osama bin Laden, and as we have heard from our panel and as we see everywhere, the t-shirts all over the Muslim world show that he is a hero, not because he camouflages his terrorism, he flaunts his terrorism. His stock-in-trade is terrorism. It is the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon which are the objects.
And the notion that suicide bombers or terrorists are shunned by many of societies, I simply do not believe to be the case. I think terrorism is viewed by many as an acceptable form of behavior, as is obvious in the Osama bin Laden cult. But I will be quiet and listen to our guests.
Chairman HYDE. I can't resist. In my opinion, you are quite right, except that I think the dancing in the streets and the t-shirts are more a manifestation of joy at our comeuppance than a celebration of terrorism. I think they'd like to see the biggest kid on the block get his nose bloodied. They love that. But that is, again, a matter of opinion. Let's go from the left to the right. I think you all have something to say about this.
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Mr. PATTIZ. Thank you. I do, actually. I think the first thing that we have to do is we have to get in the game. We are not in the game in terms of having the distribution resources to really go out there and say what our message is. I visited the region in February and March, went to Qatar, Amman, Cairo, Israel, and the Palestinian territories on a fact-finding mission. And what I found was that a media war exists there and the weapons of that war are disinformation, hate radio, incitement to violence, journalistic self-censorship and government censorship. But what I also found was that, with the moderate Arab governments in the region, transmission resources could be made available to us. We have come up with FM frequencies in places like Amman and throughout the Gulf. We are working with the Egyptians on an AM frequency in Cairo, as well as powerful transmitters from outside the region.
Now, in putting the process together to create the Middle Eastern Radio Initiative, the Middle Eastern Radio Network is our working title, if you will, we have done significant research in the area to determine what we can put on the air that will resonate with the audience that we are seeking. We think that is critical.
First of all, we can't have a one-size-fits-all approach to the entire region. So we have five different programming streams that are designed for the region. One will go to the Gulf, another to Amman, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza; another will go to Cairo, Egypt, and Yemen, and another to the Sudan. That is just for starters, just to begin.
In the research that we have done to find out what kind of programming we can do in each of these areas, some things come out that I think you might find interesting in and of themselves. We surveyed and continue to survey on a continuing basis, using western research companies that farm out the process of doing research to local companies within the Middle East, to determine what kind of radio programming we should put on the air.
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But you might be interested in hearing this: They want to hear music and news. They want features. They want features on health, family life, dating, marriage, technology, finance. They want talk shows. They want dialogues. They want call-in shows. It is not all that different from what we are doing right here. What we have to do is get in the game. And once we get in the game, I am convinced that we can have some significant effect in the region.
Mr. GILMAN. [presiding.] The gentleman's time has expired. I will give time to any other of the panelists to respond.
Ambassador WALKER. Very briefly, my sense is that the situation is not quite as bleak as Mr. Lantos painted. I think there are aspirations among the population and the region to emulate our core values. I think the people would like to see a democracy movement and civil empowerment and the developments of civil society. I hear this many, many times in my conversations with people in the region.
So there is raw material to work with, but as Mr. Pattiz says, we are not in the game. Over the last few years we put virtually nothing into democracy programs in the Middle East. We had programs elsewhere, Latin America and so on. But virtually nothing in the Middle East.
And you are right, I said we are perceived as noncaring, but we are caring. That is the whole point. We have to make a betterwe have got to work with the governments and make a better case that the people can see that we are caring. One of the problems that I had as Ambassador to Egypt is that the aid people did not have any ability to spend money from their budget in promoting their own programs on what they are doing. So there are some limitations on what we can do. I think we can do better, but you are right, Mr. Lantos, the governments there have a responsibility as well.
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Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Leslie.
Mr. LESLIE. Just a very quick comment on the issue of caring. We had an interesting session at the Council on Foreign Relations last Monday when a group of us met on this very issue. At least half the group were Muslims, which was helpful; because usually I am in these meetings with a bunch of non-Muslims talking about how to communicate in the Muslim world.
One of the things they said that I think is striking, particularly in light of what's happened in the last 24 hours, is that what we communicate about how we are reconstructing Afghanistan and the humanitarian assistance that we provide Afghanistanhow we communicate that throughout the Muslim worldwill be the single most important thing we can do short-term. We have an opportunity to do this. It is frustrating to me that we are not reminding the Muslim world that America went to war against Christian fundamentalists to protect Muslim minorities in places like Bosnia and Kosovo. We don't remind Muslims of that. Now we have an opportunity with Afghanistan if, in fact, we are serious about reconstruction, to begin to communicate that.
The other very quick comment would be I think the colloquy between Mr. Lantos and the Chairman reflects really short-term and long-term objectives. Short-term we really do have to focus on terrorism. Long term we can begin to communicate these cultural values. And that is very important. The best way to do it, by the way, is not necessarily us trying to communicate it to them. It is to encourage a dialogue within the Muslim world where, in fact, we do share values like family and peace. Have them ask the question to themselves: is this the kind of people we are, terrorists? The research shows the majority of them will say no, this is not the kind of people we are.
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But I think there is a short-term, immediate objective to make sure that we define terrorism, and a longer-term one to communicate our values and where we share values.
Mr. WEHLING. I want to acknowledge your point that there are some value differences. But I would submit that there are also a huge number of common values. Procter & Gamble markets products now in about 150 countries, and I have never found a country where families weren't important, where children weren't very important, and where every mother and father didn't want their children to have a better life than they had. That is a universal value and it is most particularly apparent in the Middle East.
And I think if we build on that, that commitment to families, and take some actions that show that we are in tune with them in that regard, that you can then build upon those commonalities to try to dialogue some of the other differences and begin to make some progress. I also would go back to my point about considering strongly an appeal to women throughout this, whatever campaign is undertaken.
I am reminded that I don't think we started to make any progress in northern Ireland until mothers joined hands, you know, and said we have had enough of this, we are going to move forward. I really believe the same kind of approach could be a good starting point in the Middle East.
Mr. HARB. I have a quick comment on the clash of values. I don't personally see a clash between American values and Arab and Muslim values. But what I see is a clash between interests. I see a clash between what people want and what their government wants. And unfortunately, there is a perception in the Arab world that most of the time that there is a clash, American interests prefer to take the side of the governments and not the people.
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Mr. ROMANO. One of the things I discovered preparing to come today is that the content of what is seen in the Middle East, when it is Arab made, is strikingly western in the formats they adapt. Egypt has just launched a Nefertiti channel which is an all-women channel. It is their equivalent of Lifetime. On Lebanese television you can find game shows at all hours. In Saudi Arabia, there is an all-reality show channel. These are clearly signs that when you actually look at the content, when they are making television for themselves, we discover that commonality. I think it is our opportunity to work with them. We see it. Certainly anything we send over officially labeled ''U.S. Government propaganda''not even ''propaganda,'' but a content really aimed at making sure they get itwill run into the usual restrictions, which executives in all our businesses tell us you have difficulty selling abroad.
No religious content is allowed, political content, sexual content, or any behavior that challenges authority. We are all familiar with the restrictions against what we can sell abroad when it is labeled western product. But you discover that as they now begin to exploit satellite technology and even cable technology, you are seeing them develop shows that show they are people. And the same things, the talk shows, and reality shows and things that appeal to us, appeal to them.
And that represents an opportunity. Because there is hope, Mr. Lantos, isn't there, and it is a reasonable hope, isn't it, that we might get around using technology, we might go around official governments fundamentalist constraints to the people who live imprisoned in those systems.
Chairman HYDE. Mr. Gilman.
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Mr. GILMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank our witnesses for being here with their expertise today. They have made some sound suggestions, some good criticism. Some of the threads I have heard, common threads through all of your thinking, are know your audience, talk with people, reorganize our public diplomacy, create possibly a coalition of information center, more effective research, work with local experts and local agencies, no one-shoe-fits-all sizes, no single appropriate message. Create a resentment index. That is interesting. And better use of professional storytellers, as in some of our good films that we have had in the past.
I think they are all sound suggestions. But let me ask all of you now how do we put this together and utilize these constructive suggestions more effectively? We can all talk about these good ideas, but how best can our government put it all together and start doing a better job than we are doing? We are throwing out all of these common ideas. But I am looking now for someone make a central agency that has to do a better job. And I ask our witnesses if they could respond to that.
Mr. PATTIZ. Well, Congressman, I certainly think that the agency would be the Broadcasting Board of Governors. You know, I hope I don't drive anybody at OMB crazy, but I will simply say that I am talking as an individual, not as a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors at the moment. But let me say this: There are many, many more things that we could be doing and we could be doing them effectively.
When I was appointed to the Board a year ago as a broadcaster from the private sector, looking around to change everything that I could change, I really didn't have a great sense of what a terrific job international broadcasting does right now with limited resources. I mean, the task of broadcasting in 60 languages all over the globe with a budget of $450 million is just daunting. They really are to be congratulated for the job that they have done.
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But I think what we can show, especially beginning with the Middle East Radio Initiative, that it is really a prototype for the way we ought to be doing business all over the globe. And I certainly believe that the expertise in working in the various areas around the world that we have, the basic requirements and the fundamental assets to be able to expand upon what we are already doing, utilizing 21st century technology and techniques, to be very, very effective. The thing that brings us back, of course, is a very simple word: Resources. If we had more resources, we could do a much more effective job.
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Pattiz, do you feel that the Broadcasting Board of Governors can resolve all of these issues by letting them do all of it?
Mr. PATTIZ. Well, I believe that what the Broadcasting Board of Governors can do is provide the expertise within the regions where we are currently functioning. We are all over the globe right now. And I think it would be the single most important conduit, since we are already out there doing this, to work with both governmental and nongovernmental organizations as a coordinating point to be able to take these ideas and these issues and put them to practical use, as we have begun to do now. We were involved in doing this Middle East Radio Initiative well before September 11.
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Walker.
Ambassador WALKER. Yes, sir. I was involved for quite a while with the very frustrating and unsuccessful effort to counter Iraqi propaganda, and part of the problem was the organizational structure. We are not timely. We have to get too many clearances. Language has to be tailored for The Washington Post as opposed to the audience, the target audience. There needs to be a single point of contact which can override all of these bureaucratic inefficiencies if we are going do actually compete as a government. Then I think that single point of contact has to have two general initiatives, one is how the government does its job, but also outreach nongovernmental agencies and operations that can help in that process.
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Mr. GILMAN. Thank you.
Mr. LESLIE. I don't want to get into a government snakepit. I was in government service long enough myself to know to avoid that. But I would say that watching the way this has unfolded, some of our officials have become ensnared in their bureaucracies. And we ought to sometimes look outside bureaucracies at a time like this to get things done. Look at what happened in World War I when we reached out to a journalist and invented a whole new structure to help communicate.
I think there has to be a central point of control. It has to be driven by the White House. I think that is starting to happen with the CIC, but there does need to be a central point of control.
Mr. GILMAN. Thank you.
Mr. WEHLING. I agree there needs to be a central point of contact. I am reminded that you have a very successful communications professional now in the State Department in Charlotte Beers. And that might be a place to start. But I would also say that I wouldn't do a lot of organization before I did a lot of research, because I think that the research and the findings from the research in each of the countries that would be targeted may lead you to some different organizations than you might conceive on your own here in Washington. And so I would put together a loose framework under somebody, perhaps like Charlotte, but commission them to do research before you develop plans and organizations.
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Mr. GILMAN. Thank you.
Mr. HARB. Mr. Gilman, the last thing I believe people in the Arab world want right now is another State-run organization to deliver a message to them. We have to find a way to empower the private sector, to hook up with the private sector and formulate a message.
Mr. GILMAN. Who should be doing that?
Mr. HARB. I always believe the private sector is the right person, the right side to do that. Because I think it is all about interests and finding investment opportunity in the Arab world, and there is a lot of that.
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Romano.
Mr. ROMANO. I would like to agree with that, but I do imagine that there is a kind of programming we could do, original programming we could do that would do us some good, some of it involves working with television makers from around the world, and some of it simply involves putting American filmmakers to work on projects that would say what we want to say abroad. I don't think we can entirely rely on the private sector.
You can't really ask networks and studios to make non-moneymaking films and TV. And yet the country would benefit from some of that product. I think that you know what I am talking about involves something like a television broadcast version of the Voice of America, which would have some original programming.
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In talking to Ambassador Walker yesterday on the phone, it also arose from his suggestion that there may be a way if we created such product of weaving it with TV that is now being transmitted into the Middle East. We would create the product, in other words, with foreign filmmakers or on our own or both, and then find ways of selling it or giving it to networks like Phoenix, Star TV, Al-Jazeera itself. And I think that would take a lot of the curse off the fact that it was official government product.
Mr. GILMAN. I want to thank the panelists for these excellent suggestions. I think it will be of great help to us as we review our public diplomacy. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman HYDE. [Presiding.] Thank you.
Ms. Watson, the gentlelady from California.
Ms. WATSON. Thank you so very much. I want to compliment our Chair and our Ranking Member. This has probably been one of the most compelling panels I have sat through since September 11th. I want to thank you particularly, Mr. Harb, and the gentleman on the end for telling the truth. I have been very, very troubled since coming back from Dhurban. I attended, along with Congresswoman Lee, the Conference on Racism, Xenophobia and Intolerance.
So much of what you said is true. America appeared arrogant. We did not stay there to hear out the grievances of the 159 nations who sent their heads of states. And I was very, very troubled that our delegation was called back home. When we raised the issue with our delegation about taking up African, not African American reparation/compensation, we were told by our Government they were unauthorized. When we encouraged our delegation to take up slavery as a crime against humanity, they wouldn't touch it.
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So the appearance to these other countries, in particular countries of Africa, is that America wasn't willing to come forth and face its history. I can identify with the feelings around the world because we were there. I am a descendent of a slave. I can trace back, give you a name.
Now, my question to all of you is this, and I think I heard it, is that our conditions, the conditions under which we live are still a challenge to American values. I am a minority, I am an African American and I can tell you as the first African American woman in the California State Senate, I can tell you I ran into racism. I ran into gender discrimination. And I am wondering, as someone said Amistad should be shown, I think Roots ought to be shown.
How dramatically can we represent how America is evolving? What extent can we go to so others who dislike us, have animosity for us, can start identifying with the struggles of those Americans who make up this general population. I think we are on to something. I will just end by saying this: We were very successful when we were trying to pass the anti-smoking legislation; it took 14 years. And when we finally got the resources, I carried the legislation to put them out there in an advertising agency. And I found out we were really smart and effective when we gave that money to like kind. If we were trying to zero in on the African American community, we would do a subcontract with African American advertisers so the messages would be targeted. Same with Hispanic, Native Americans, Asian Americans and others.
I want you to tell me how responsive will our pro chapters be if they took the right to show all segments of American society and how we have struggled to be accepted in American society.
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Mr. ROMANO. May I say that I think this is an opportunity to say something important. Having said that America's TV and film storytellers can help to get our story out in the President's words, I think it is good to observe what it is we don't do very well, something that really lies outside the bounds of our ability, and that is to make propaganda. Not that anyone is asking us to, but note that when we are at our best, what we do is we make shows that show diversity, conflict.
What I like to call H. L. Menkin's America noisy, raucous, slightly impolite, multi-voiced, never settling on one point of view. While that may seem like, in some ways, the wrong kind of image to send abroad, in fact, no image would be more attractive to people who are being forced to live one way, and think one way. Nothing can be more attractive than the idea of this unresolved, constantly messy noisy thing, that clash of views which is what good television conveys best, that is the sound of a free society. And nothing I think is a more important image to get out.
Mr. LESLIE. It is very telling that the most popular TV program right now in the Arab world is Who Wants to be a Millionaire. It is true. Followed by Baywatch. We are not, I thinkthis point is a very important onewe are not showing the diversity of this country. Not only the diversity but the struggle people have gone through for diversity. What is at the heart of those who are attracted to al-Qaeda is this hopelessness, this humiliation that young people feel. They feel the same kind of hopelessness that many in the United States have felt during times of struggle. And to show that, to demonstrate that we have gone through those struggles and that we are a diverse Nation and we value that, I think is a very, very important message, rather than Who Wants to be a Millionaire and Baywatch.
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Chairman HYDE. Ambassador Walker.
Ambassador WALKER. I think that we have a problem though, and that is the stereotyping of the Arab and the kind of image that the Arab has. And pictures of the United States in which actions are taken against Arabs that were perhaps unfair and unjust under the circumstances, delaying visas for all Arab males, profiling of Arabs, these are things that you are familiar with in other contexts. As long as we as a society continue to do this kind of thing, our arguments have a real problem in getting across.
Chairman HYDE. Mr. Pattiz.
Mr. PATTIZ. When the Voice of America went on the air on February 25, 1942, it signed on by saying we will bring you the news. The news may be good, the news may be bad, but we will always tell the truth. Nothing has changed in that mission. And the purpose of those kinds of statements is to show a cross-section of everything that is American. And I think it is doing exactly that which will help us gain the credibility that we so sorely lack within the region right now.
Chairman HYDE. Mr. Wehling.
Mr. WEHLING. Mr. Chairman, I just feel compelled to restate the very first point I made in my testimony about what is the foundation of a successful effort. From all of the questions and all of the testimony, it is clear to me that if everybody in this room right now were to sit down and write the objectives for what the public diplomacy or communications effort would be, it would be slightly different.
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And there are values to showing, you know what you talked about, Ms. Watson, there are values to almost everything that has been said. But until you get agreement on the exact objectives and who you are trying to reach and convince of that, we could come up with different personal opinions all day.
But I would really get that objective clarified and nailed down, and get everyone who needs to agree to it before you do too much.
Chairman HYDE. Mr. Issa.
Mr. ISSA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Harb, if I understood you correctly, I think in general your testimony and your answer to questions sort of all point around the fact that America supports governments that do not support American values and pro-American statements once we support themthat we have a tendency to support the government rather than the people. Is that a fair characterization?
Mr. HARB. What I was trying to say is, there is a perception in the Arab world that the United States is always on the side of the official government.
Mr. ISSA. And I will agree with you that that is the case. I think it is the case of every government. If you are not on the side of the official government, then you are somewhat at war, if not literally, then figuratively with that government. But if I could switch to Ambassador Walker for a moment.
Page 107 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ambassador, you have been where the rubber-meets-the-road, and it gets scuffed a lot on more than one occasion. For example, with Saudi Arabia, a country where we have officially a very good relationship, unofficially our bases are like prison camps for our military, our movements and our freedom are restricted more than they are at any other military bases in the world. Particularly in this war, and we have become a war, those limitations were not necessarily decreased the way we would have liked.
If we were to begin to change our policy to be more promoting of those countries who have secondary support for America, not just saying we are your ally, but then showing it in the public dialogue and the messages on television and radio and so on, it would be a huge shift. Would that be a shift that would you recommend to the Administration?
Ambassador WALKER. Mr. Issa, I think that there are two aspects of this. One is the policy aspect, which really isn't the issue before us today. But it is important. U.S. policies do have a profound affect. It is not just the message, it is what we say in the message. And if we are able to carry forward in the direction the President has outlined now, for example, in the Palestinian issue which I understand the Secretary is going to outline, this will make a profound difference in the atmosphere and the attitude in the region.
It reduces the pressure on the governments involved. Then I think it is incumbent on us to start to change the way we approach these governments and start to look for ways to increase their movement, the speed of their movement toward civil society, toward democratizing regional approach. There are a number of countries that are already in that process in the Gulf, for example. We should be encouraging it. We should be putting resources into it, so yes, I think we should be doing that.
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Mr. ISSA. One other follow-up question, which is not exactly on this hearing; but I don't get your ear often enough, no one possibly could. The Administration recently asked the country of Lebanon, and to a certain extent, other countries that feed into the group Hezbollah, to cut off funding. And there was a push back, a pretty unconditional push back. My understanding is that when you look at the allocation of funds, some of it was clearly misguided, and some of it clearly was directed toward humanitarian relief. Yet I understand there was no offer to replace that humanitarian relief. When we are trying to have a public message similar to Afghanistan where we substituted public relief coming from our country for much of the damage that might be done as a result of the war, do you think that there is an inconsistency in our asking to cut off aid to Hezbollah, but not offering the 50 to $100 million in support that does go to humanitarian aid to that organization?
Ambassador WALKER. Yes, I do think there is a problem here. Because the funds that the Hezbollah uses on social projects is a substantial portion of the social activity in some of the key areas, more impoverished areas of Lebanon. I think it is an area that we ought to look for replacement value. I don't think that we should be adjusting our approach to Hezbollah.
Mr. ISSA. That is universally agreed up here.
Ambassador WALKER. I am sure it is. There is a perception in the region that we are attacking Hezbollah because it was a resistance fighter in the war to eliminate Israeli occupation. That is a total miscalculation, and it is wrong. That is not the reason they are on the terrorist list. They are on the terrorist list for very good reasons. So I think that we should be looking at ways that we can help the government of Lebanon fill that vacuum that is created by lack of funds. And that will strengthen the Lebanese government, which I think is also an objective we should have.
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Mr. ISSA. Just one quick follow-up if I could, Mr. Chairman. You know Lebanon is often the country that we talk of, and I have to admit, I am of Lebanese descent, but would you have a similar outreach to Syria if they showed a willingness to move away from state sponsorship or support or harboring of terrorists toward us? Would you also feel that that is an appropriate offset?
Ambassador WALKER. I would say both in the case of Syria and in the case of Iran, if there is an opening here that we can use, if we can use these events to start pulling them back from terrorism, from murder of civilians, then, by God, we ought to do it. That is an unnatural situation caused by their policies. And if they are prepared to change their policies then we shouldn't be holding back, we should be helping.
Chairman HYDE. Mr. Delahunt.
Mr. DELAHUNT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to direct this to Ambassador Walker. I have this concern that we are falling into a trap. We loosely use the term ''clash of cultures,'' ''clash of values.'' And maybe my concern is because I understand American values to be universal values. And when we talk clash, somehow I think we infer that their values, whatever they are, are less than ours. We hear this in our own media. We hear it here. But my understanding of American values is that we value freedom, peace, and family. I think these are values that are common to human kind.
Yet we seem to be creating some sort of an ''us versus them'' when the reality is, we are all together, whether you are a Muslim or an Irish Catholic from Boston. Yet we are starting to frame this discussion along ''us versus them'' terms. And I find that disturbing. The resentment factor, I think in many respects, Mr. Harb, is produced because we don't recognize that American values are human values and are applicable to the Muslim world. And that the resentment is not just simply because of our support for the state of Israel, but our identification with repressive, oppressive regimes in the Muslim world that don't give full voice to American/universal values. I would be interested in anyone's comment.
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Ambassador WALKER. I agree with you. I think that there are two factors going on here. I am reluctant to get into the first. But this was explained to me by an Islamic scholar who said that first of all, there is a clash going on, but it is between Islam and Islam. It is a question of traditional values steeped in the 14th century versus modernization and flexibility and reinterpretation of Islam. And that clash is not over, even if we eliminate Osama bin Laden or the Taliban and so on, because that is still out there. Within each of the countries, there is this tendency of fear toward the future and sticking with the past. So that is one problem.
For modernization to take place, and for economic growth and so on, I think you have to have an exchange in the value system. I agree with you that the basic values are there already in the family, peace, freedom and so on. But their expression has been different. And what we need to do, I believe, is to encourage greater expression of some of these values through building up a civil society, through building up a free press.
Mr. DELAHUNT. Creating democratic institutions.
Ambassador WALKER. Creating institutions for democracy. If you don't do that, then you have a really dangerous situation on your hands.
Mr. DELAHUNT. Mr. Harb.
Mr. HARB. I agree with you 100 percent. The tricky question is how we can pursue a policy where you can empower people and help build the civil society in a given country, but at the same time, do it in a way that would not destabilize these countries. So we should have a short-term and a long-term policy.
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Mr. DELAHUNT. If I may, I think I have a little more time. Let me commend the Chairman here.
Chairman HYDE. You have all the time you want if that is what you want to say.
Mr. DELAHUNT. This is my way to gain additional time. This is a wonderful strategy. But I think that these hearings on public diplomacy are absolutely some of the best hearings that I have been witness to in my time in Congress. And Chairman Hyde, you really do deserve credit for this. I think there is our future. It is, hopefully, a positive by-product of a tragedy that has impacted every American. It has given us an opportunity to really think about the future in terms of the global village.
I would also note to the Chairman that we hear some of the frustration in terms of the bureaucracy expressed here. You know, I really believe that Congress is a separate and independent branch of government. The first among the three, and that we as an institution should reach out. We have interparliamentary conferences with Canadians, with Mexicans, we have them with Europeans. I don't know, but I dare say we have absolutely no communication, no relationship with assemblies, Congresses, parliamentarians, anywhere in the Islamic world. With your leadership, Mr. Hyde, I think we ought to reach out. I read something just recently where some parliamentarians in Iran announced that it was time to speak to America. Maybe that is an opportunity we should seize on.
Chairman HYDE. Mr. Delahunt, if we start a parliamentary exchange program with Iran, I shall use what influence I have to make sure you are in the first delegation.
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Mr. DELAHUNT. I accept the challenge.
Chairman HYDE. Mr. Smith of Michigan.
Mr. SMITH OF MICHIGAN. Does the Under Secretary of State of Diplomatic Affairs or somebody know, by country, by region, how individuals get their information? Do we have that kind of research and knowledge?
Mr. PATTIZ. Yes, we do. Actually, on the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which is a bipartisan board of four Democrats and four Republicans, the Secretary of State serves as an ex-officio member, and representing him on that board is the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy. That kind of information exists. We supply it to the State Department at regular intervals.
Mr. SMITH OF MICHIGAN. So give me more assurance, maybe you, Ambassador Walker, about whether they get their information by television or radio or some other way. Can you assure me that we know, by country and by region, how people get their information and that our message is conveyed?
Ambassador WALKER. I am not sure I can give you assurance that in every case or every country we have that kind of information.
In the larger countries we have done considerable research as to what is the best medium to get to the people. How many people are literate, for example, is a very important qualification on this kind of thing and how many have television sets. So these are easily identifiable, but we just don't concentrate on some of the countries. We have to do more research, I think.
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Mr. LESLIE. Well, I was just going to say, there is the INR and other agencies in the government that conduct this kind of research. My experience has been, though, and I haven't been at this very long, that the country reports that we get through the government are oftentimes descriptive rather than prescriptive. They tell us what people are listening to and so forth. They do not tell us necessarily what kind of messages are going to change behavior.
And unfortunately in the private sector, where we also do an enormous amount of research, it generally is for consumer marketing purposes, where it tells us about product attributes and, again, how you reach people, but it doesn't give us a lot of insights into public policy attitudes.
So I do think there is still a need for prescriptive research on how you develop messages that are going to change attitudes over time.
Mr. SMITH OF MICHIGAN. So in terms of audience research in some of those countries, what I have heard you say so far
Mr. LESLIE. The private sector could be a big help in this area.
Mr. SMITH OF MICHIGAN. As far as evaluating performance, you know, we might think we are doing a good job. How do we evaluate how good a job we are doing in some of these communication efforts? Is there a formal evaluation, in terms of trying to decide if we are doing a good job?
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Mr. PATTIZ. We do extensive research at BBG on the listening levels and also whether or not people even know that we exist in certain countries. Obviously, in certain countries it is easy to do, and in other countries it is difficult to do. It is very difficult to do in countries that don't want us there in the first place where we are broadcasting from outside the region in. But even in those cases we attempt to do research from people who are leaving the country or people who have visited the country.
But we do have an extensive research arm that is tasked with the mission of determining whether our broadcasts are getting through and whether people are really hearing them and what the effect of those broadcasts are.
Mr. SMITH OF MICHIGAN. Looking beyond broadcasting, changing peoples' minds is a long, painstaking process. Are we looking at other avenues? Are we looking at schooling and education and the kind of textbooks or lesson plans that might be used?
Ambassador WALKER. Yes. We used to do probably a better job at this when we had more exchange programs and we had more Fulbrighters coming and going, when we were actually the education of choice for many of the elites in the Arab world who came to the United States to do their college and their graduate work. Nowadays, with so many universities popping up in the region itself, far fewer students are coming to the United States, and we have less exposure to them.
I think that we do need to make an effort to change that attitude. But I would say that it is also critically important that we try to do something at the lower levels. This is where the attitudes are formed.
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It is the young people, as I said before, who are the most anti-American. Where are they getting that anti-Americanism? They come home from school, where that is what they are being told.
So this is a problem. It is very difficult to deal with because most countries do not like you mucking around with their educational systems. But it is something that we have got to target.
Chairman HYDE. The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentlelady from California, Ms. Lee.
Ms. LEE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman; and let me also say that I believe this is a very important panel today. It has been very interesting and very enlightening, and I believe that you have shared many insights that we need to really understood and sort through as we move forward on this Committee. I am one who certainly believes that public diplomacy is a critical component in combatting terrorism and should be actually an objective in our public diplomacy efforts.
Now, following up on Congresswoman Watson's question and statement and also the panel's response, I believe that we should definitely present the realties of America and its unfinished business, the business which we are engaged in as minorities, as the poor, as women. The core values I think that are inherent in our democracy, the values of tolerance and pluralism, are not mutually exclusive. And in saying this, I mean that in our public diplomacy efforts in many parts of the world to see how minorities and women and the poor are fighting within this democratic system for equality and justice is a message in itself and really does present the best of America, even though that is the unfinished business of America.
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Diversity, of course, is our greatest strength, and I wanted to ask the panel, out of our strengths here in America, how we includeand I asked this of the Under Secretary, Charlotte Beershow are we rethinking our public diplomatic efforts in embracing the Arab American, the Muslim American community, the African American community and in also utilizing the services of organizations and agencies and businesses in helping to craft these messages for the Middle East and for the Arab world? So that is one question I would like to just hear from you on.
The second question I have is just, basically, how do you see our foreign policy and public diplomacy working together? Should our foreign policy objectives actually drive our public diplomacy efforts, or should our public diplomacy efforts primarily have, as an objective, the change of attitudes specifically around combatting terrorism at this point?
Mr. PATTIZ. I will jump in on that one.
Ms. LEE. I think Mr. Romano was going to answer.
Mr. ROMANO. I was going to say this. I think there are obviously short-term advantages to tying public diplomacy to some very specific policy objectives. But I think in the long run, more is simply accomplished by changing the world to a state where people abroad, everyone abroad, is seeing us for what we really are.
The goal is to show America, not to sell any given message; and the long-term advantages of that I think are great. And showing America means not only showing its problems, there are wonderful things to show. There are truthful things to show. But I think given specific policies, even the war on terrorism and public diplomacy, I think we are at our bestand all of the comments you have heard todaywe are at our best when we are addressing the long-term goal of presenting America and getting on top of how America is being presented.
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Because if we were to do nothing at all, if such a panel never met, if nothing came out of today, people would still be getting images of America and drawing their own conclusions. The task I think is to somehow get on top of that process, add to that process, and make sure they are seeing a few things that we would really like people to see, because that is going on anyway. If we don't cook up the kind of radio and television we are talking about, they will simply buy it. There are more venues and avenues, technological avenues all of the time. They will simply buy it. They will buy what they want to buy.
Great; let them. But let's also make sure that we are sending out the images that we want. If that is what you are doing, I think you can't tie that to specific policy objectives, because then you are saying, what are the programs? What are the shows? What are the forms of entertainment that say X about a given policy?
As you move forward on that front, you lose I think the greater gain of allowing the rest of the world to see, to experience their humanity as something that they share with us. So commonality suffers as you begin to use it as a tool to get across messages.
Chairman HYDE. The gentlelady's time has expired.
Ms. LEE. Mr. Chairman, may I have an additional 30 seconds to hear from Mr. Pattiz?
Chairman HYDE. Surely.
Page 118 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PATTIZ. Excuse me. There is a very delicate dance that exists here in what we do at the Broadcasting Board of Governors, because if what we do in our services is perceived as propaganda in some places, it certainly is not going to have the effect of creating the credibility that we seek. Our mission is to provide a free flow of accurate, reliable and credible information to the world and to be, if you will, an example of a free press and an American tradition.
By the same token, we also recognize that we have a public policy mission. That may very well be why Congress in its wisdom decided to create the Broadcasting Board of Governors as a separate agency that, among its responsibilities, acts as a firewall between the independence of our journalists and any outside pressures that may come from the State Department or others.
Chairman HYDE. Thank you.
Mr. Payne, the gentleman from New Jersey.
Mr. PAYNE. Thank you very much.
I, unfortunately, did not have the privilege of hearing your testimony, although I certainly have been enlightened by the responses to the questions, and I can certainly agree with what others have said. Although I missed your individual testimony, this is one of the most enlightening discussions that I have even heard with the response to the questions.
As you were talking, I was simply making a list of some things that I think may have set the stage for a continued image that the United States has portrayed. We know that in many developing countries, especially in the countries now in conflict, that dictatorial leadership and lack of democracy exists and impoverished people are then suggested that they vent their anger toward the sort of ''king of the hill,'' the people that, as you mentioned on the televisionthis millionaire thing. They think of Beverly Hills. You know, they think that this is America to everyone.
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So a lot of the problems are certainly created by those dictatorial leaders. Our good Saudi Arabian friends, they certainly lack democracy; and our Kuwaitis that we went to liberate have not changed any of their policies. By and large, women still have very few rights, et cetera, et cetera.
However, in my opinion there have been some positions that we have taken that could also help to give that imageand let me just run through a fewlike the Kyoto Treaty. We said not only don't we want to amend it, we are just ripping it up, throwing it in the basket.
The missile defense initiativewe are going to do it even though our European friends were not pleased with it.
We want to scrap the old ICBM treaties, the 1970s missile treaties.
Concerning small arms sales, of which we did $18.6 billion of a $35 billion world sales, when the U.N. had a conference just 2 or 3 months ago we said we would not want to participate. Don't tell us. We are going to proliferate the world with these small arms even though other countries are saying why don't we have some kind of restraints.
We opposed the land mine treaty, we said, because of North Korea. The North Koreans might march, I guess, to South Korea, so we can't do the land mines treaty.
We sent a message to North Korea when the Premier came from South Korea that we don't want to be involved. Forget that assistance or nuclear stuff for North Korea. Whatever they did in the last Administration, that is off. And that sort of broke off some of the relationships between North and South Korea, to Japan and other Pacific countries' dismay.
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We said we don't support the child soldiers amendment. We said, you know, people shouldn't go to war when they are under 18, yet we opposed the treaty.
We opposed the Internal Court of Justicewe said we don't want people telling us. We refused to pay our U.N. dues. Then, when we did it, we said we are putting in an Inspector General, so they did it. They laid off a lot of people. They tried to make reform. Then we decided to reduce their dues.
Our western European allies even voted us out of the Human Rights Panel. It was done by Europeans, our friends, not far-away people, but the Europeans and Canadians said, you are out.
We pushed and then fooled around with the Mexico City language the first day of the new Administration. We voted our foreign aid at about a half of 1 percent of our GDP. We eliminated AID offices in many countries, made them regional.
The question of the death penalty. Even some of our western European countries have a problem with extradition.
That is just some things I thought of off the cuff while you all were talking. I was listening, but I was jotting some things down.
Now, am I way out of sync with everyone else? Because this is what our policy is. I am a great American. I am an American. I think I am great. And I am very pro-America, and I love the flag.
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But, you know, have we developed some image? I mean, when you are doing well, people who are not doing well can point to you as the reason they are not doing well. However, it seems to me, we have a number of issues that I question myself.
I just wonder if any of the panelists would like to comment on this. Thank you.
Ambassador WALKER. Yes. One of the persistent complaints about us that I have found in my travels around the region recently is that we are perceived as being arrogant because we go our own way. We don't consult. We expect other people to conform to whatever it is that we are doing.
Now, I don't think that is a fair analysis, mind you, because our foreign policy and our diplomacy are designed to consult, to get the information back here for the decision making and so on. So others' views are taken into account.
But it is the perceptions that count. We have got a huge perception problem out in the region itself, and to a certain extent it is inevitable. We are the great power. We are to solve every problem. And when we don't, it is because we don't want to. So, therefore, we are given an undue credit and also undue blame.
But I think we can do a better job in softening the image somewhat so that we don't come across quite so arrogantly.
Page 122 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PATTIZ. To a large extent, as it relates to the Middle East and to the Muslim countries, we are allowing messages to be crafted by others and not effectively crafting any messages for ourselves.
The Arabic media is generally government controlled. There are exceptions to that. Everybody is familiar with all of the attention that Al-Jazeera is getting. A lot of people would characterize Al-Jazeera as a Middle Eastern CNN. It is not. But it is the only opportunity that we have in some cases to put our diplomats and members of our Administration on the air. We don't have any control over what precedes their message or what follows their message. We are not in the game.
What we have to do is provide avenues of distribution so that we can tell the story of the United States of America in a way that is not colored by others within the region, and that is certainly what we are attempting to do with the first step, with the Middle East radio initiative. But until we put ourselves in the position where we can carry water for ourselves, I think it is going to be a continuing problem for us.
Mr. PAYNE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
As you know, we did away with USIA as we know it. We made it no longer an independent agency and put it under the State Department somewhere. I haven't heard from it since.
I just did want to finally mention about the Conference on Racism that, as you know, we sent a little delegation and then walked out. However, that was the third Conference on Racism. This is the first one that we have sent anyone to, but most of us never heard about the others because we don't acknowledge that they exist.
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So I, too, commend the Chair for having such a distinguished panel, and I hope that we can have some more dialogue of this nature.
Just really concluding, about 4 or 5 years ago I mentioned at one of our meetings that we need to understand the Islam religion and the Middle East better and even suggested it to Carnegie and a couple of the funding groups, that why don't we have some Aspen meetings with this topic. They found there was no interest on the part of Members of Congress. They said, we would love to do it, but nobody is interested. For the last 4 weeks, the Aspen Institute has been having a breakfast meeting on Wednesday and Thursdays every week beginning about a week after September 11th. You can't get in the room because of the interest now.
So, hopefully, we will get a chance to learn, understand, get a fix on the area so that we will be better equipped in the world to present our positions but also take a look at the way we behave. We might need to take a look at that.
Eugene Burdick wrote a book called The Ugly American. This isn't new. That was about 15 or 20 years ago. So I think we need to take a look internally. Still be strong and proud and great and all. However, we need to take a look at some of our policies.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your generous time.
Chairman HYDE. Not at all, Mr. Payne. We could carry this on infinitum, because you did a litany of flaws in the American charter that I thought we could debate endlessly.
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For example, we don't behead people when we have capital punishment. Most Muslim countries, to my knowledge, all of them, oppose abortion; and so the Mexico City Policy would fit right in with their ethic.
So a lot of those things we could debate as to whether they are flaws or not.
Mr. PAYNE. If you yield. The questions of the right to choose and women being delegated such a non-status in their tradition are, you know, no surprise.
The second thing, about the death penalty, I do think that beheading people is really horrible. However, if we could ever get our death penalty to be done justly and fairly, then there may not be opposition in some quarters to it.
Chairman HYDE. Well, all law enforcement should be done justly and fairly.
Mr. DELAHUNT. I think we are demonstrating our diversity right now.
Mr. PAYNE. That is what makes America great. But he is the Chairman, so he has the last word.
Chairman HYDE. Two things. This has been an outstanding panel. I have never seen a group of six people where each one had something of great substance to say and to add. You indeed have performed a public service, and I am very grateful.
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I would ask each of you one question and then ask you to answer it at your leisure by letter or fax. Doug Seay will talk to you, each of you, and tell you how to communicate with us under the present strained circumstances.
But the question I would like you to think about and answer is, if you had the contract to reinvent public diplomacy, what would you do? We need a starting place. You have given us a lot to think about. But just what would you do if you had the task, the contract to reinvent public diplomacy? Think about it and write to us, and Doug will tell you how to reach us.
And I speak for everybody on the Committee, those who are here and those who aren't, in expressing profound gratitude. Thank you.
The Committee stands adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 12:40 p.m., the Committee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
Material Submitted for the Hearing Record
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE BENJAMIN A. GILMAN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK
I want to commend Chairman Hyde for holding this important hearing at this time. Clausewitz said that war is an extension of policy by other means. To put it more simply, nations go to war when policy has failed. Two months ago, over 4,000 New Yorkers lost their lives due to a policy failure. We are now at war to correct our course. We have taken a two-pronged approach to this offensivea military and a diplomatic one. The military effort appears to be going well, incorporating new thinking and breaking new ground. While political and diplomatic effort has also been generally going well, we are still uncertain of its long-term impact.
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Yesterday, we learned that as a part of our effort to win over the Pakistani people, we will be giving their nation over a billion dollars in assistance. While Pakistan is currently playing an important role in helping our effort to root out the Taliban, we should bear in mind that in the immediate past Pakistan, with the support of Saudi Arabia, created and sustained them. Our plan apparently is that by creating jobs and eradicating poverty the Pakistani people will turn their back on the Islamic extremism that has a strong foothold in that country.
While I support that plan, I question its implementation. Over the years, the United States dispersed billions of dollars of assistance to nations in the region. Even before the September 11th attack, we were the largest contributor of food assistance to Afghan refugees. Yet in most of the nations in South Asia, the feeling with regard to United States policy is not one of gratitude, but rather it is of disdain and distrust.
Hopefully, our witnesses will inform our Committee what we are doing wrong and how can we be more effective in our nation's public diplomacy.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE JOSEPH R. PITTS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for convening this important hearing to critically examine America's public diplomacy efforts. Let me begin by giving my appreciation to the hard work that has been done to further America's public diplomacy by diplomats as well as individuals at VOA and RLRFA.
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Numerous reports and analyses reflect that the battle in which we are currently engaged is not only a military battle, but also a battle to win the hearts and minds of the people of Afghanistan.
It is not acceptable that a country with the capability and means such as ours fails so miserably at communicating our intent to offer peace, freedom, and prosperity to Afghanistan and to offer the world protection from terrorist atrocities. It does not matter if we offer liberty and justice if we cannot deliver or communicate that message.
Providing access to information for the Afghan people, other than what the Taliban deems fit to allow, is key to bringing freedom and stability to Afghanistan. By strengthening the reporting and broadcasting capabilities in Afghanistan, we will help our nation and the nation of Afghanistan. We must combat the damage done by Osama bin Laden by getting our own information to the Afghan people. Bin Laden and his cohorts in the Taliban have created a disparate information gap through banning computers, media and other forms of communication. We must fill that gap. The Afghan people need factual information as they reconstruct their nation.
It is vital that our nation restore our credibility in the eyes of the people of Afghanistan and the surrounding region. We must assure the people of Afghanistan that even though our government disengaged them after their war with Russia and their loss of at least 1.5 million lives, the American people have not forgotten their sacrifice. The people of Afghanistan need to know that the international community is clearly aware that their suffering is caused by the Taliban and this regime's wasting of the tremendous resources of Afghanistan and its people. The Taliban has not provided the people of Afghanistan with basic necessities such as food and shelter, but has increased their suffering so that more people than ever are starving, freezing to death, or dying from easily preventable medical problems. The Taliban callously allows the Afghan people to die. It is the international community and aid organizations who have given food and medicine, who have helped build wells and shelters. The Taliban, in its commitment to conflict, has used the resources of this nation for its own selfish and destructive aims.
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The end of this conflict is nowhere in sight. The void that remained upon our departure was filled by officials whose actions led to millions of internally displaced Afghans. We cannot let the Taliban win by spreading the propaganda that the United States will again disengage the Afghan people. The manner in which the United States conducts itself and the information we share with Afghanistan and the world will impact our ability to forge a global and steadfast alliance.
Mr. Chairman, I would also like to note that Americans are sometimes accused of being insensitive in our interaction with other cultures. We are repeating this mistake in our public diplomacy efforts. We are attempting to reach people in other countries by means of American culture . . . and we wonder why we are failing. Processes and communication methods that are effective in the United States are not effective overseas. It is essential that we make proper cultural perspective a priority. We are trying to win a warwe must do our research! We must empower and connect those who truly understand the people to whom we are trying to reach. Government officials must reach out to NGOs and laymen who know, understand, and can communicate with the people. We have to recognize that, while diplomacy by means of the media is important, nothing can replace the effectiveness of true relationship building. People to people diplomacy is one of the most valuable means of building relationships and trust. In many of these cultures, personal relationships are of the utmost importance.
A friend of mine from a Muslim nation told me the principles of his political partythat true relationships develop when individuals get to know each other. As they get to know one another, they learn to trust each other. And as that trust develops, they are able to begin to cooperate and work together. Only with that trust through relationship does true cooperation follow. We can begin to be truly effective in communicating to people in the world if we speak through those they already trust.
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So, as we examine United States diplomacy by means of media and public education this morning, we must remember to be sensible in the way that we communicate. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to take a critical look at the efforts by the United States thus far and to determine how we may increase our ability to be more effective as we move forward.