The Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2005

78 F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / J U LY- A U G U S T 2 0 0 5 Time to Act Engaging the Arab and Islamic Worlds Through Public Diplomacy: A Report and Action Recommendations William A. Rugh (ed.), Public Diplomacy Council, 2004, $19.95, paperback, 174 pages. R EVIEWED BY D AVID N EWTON Perhaps no aspect of American diplomacy has received more atten- tion in the period since 9/11 than public diplomacy, conducted by the Department of State since the 1999 demise of the U.S. Information Agency. There is widespread agree- ment that the state of our public diplomacy is seriously inadequate in all respects. The congressionally- created Advisory Group on Public Diplomacy in the Arab and Muslim World, chaired by retired Ambassador Edward Djerejian, issued a scathing critique, including detailed recom- mendations, in October 2003. Like the 9/11 Commission, the study called for significantly greater funding, but also recommended structural changes and greatly increased, trained human resources. Now another group of public diplomacy experts, comprised largely of retired USIA officers, has joined the debate. The Public Diplomacy Council, a nonprofit organization founded in 1988 and with close ties to the USIA Alumni Association, adds in this report a professional analysis of the means to conduct successful pub- lic diplomacy and an action plan to implement such a program. The study is edited by former ambassador and USIA officer Dr. William A. Rugh, who has written extensively on the subject. Leading off the six-part report, Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, sets the political stage, noting, as have others, the collapse of Arab trust in the United States, particularly in the first term of President George W. Bush. He identifies the Arab-Israeli issue as the “prism of pain” through which Arab audiences judge the United States, even though the region has many other problems. He makes the telling point that much resentment aimed at the U.S. is based on the per- ception that the U.S. does not care about the views and concerns of oth- ers. Telhami also adds support for authoritarian governments and the information revolution as other signif- icant factors in the growth of Arab resentment. He judges that public opinion in the region is playing an increasingly relevant role and is increasingly independent of Middle East governments. In the study’s second part, three public affairs officers (Kenton Keith and Barry Fulton, retired; James Bullock, active-duty) give the reader a hands-on analysis of the daily demands of the job, stressing respec- tively the indispensable use of per- sonal contact, the need to make effective use of rapidly changing technology, and the day-to-day chal- lenges facing public diplomacy in the field. One thread running through these contributions is the muddled lines of control and the new bureau- cratic burdens created by the USIA merger into the Department of State, a merger many observers now consid- er ill-advised. The report’s third section, with much less consensus, deals with U.S. international broadcasting, directed by the presidentially appointed, non- partisan Broadcasting Board of Governors. Broadcasting to the Arab World and Iran has been completely reorganized in recent years. The Arabic Service of the Voice of America has been replaced by the new, largely music/entertainment- oriented Radio Sawa and by TV Alhurra; Radio Free Iraq (part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) has been gutted; and the entertain- B OOKS Rugh identifies three causes for public diplomacy’s decline: increased security measures, decreased funding and the merger of USIA into State — all factors that preceded 9/11. w