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The Advisory Group on Public Diplomacy in the Arab and Muslim World

Changing Minds, Winning Peace: A New Strategic Direction for U.S. Public Diplomacy in the Arab and Muslim World


Edward P. Djerejian, Chair.

Full report,
1 October 2003

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"In this time of peril, public diplomacy is absurdly and dangerously underfunded, and simply restoring it to its Cold War status is not enough."

1 October 2003 - "The United States today lacks the capabilities in public diplomacy to meet the national security threat emanating from political instability, economic deprivation and extremism, especially in the Arab and Muslim world," stated an advisory group mandated by Congress in a report presented today to the House Appropriations Committee. The group was told during its trip to the region that if America does not define itself, the extremists will.

The Task Force, which first issued a report after September 11, points to evidence that, despite administration efforts, anti-Americanism is more widespread and dangerous than ever. The consequences are substantial, ranging from the difficulty faced by the Bush administration in forming a coalition for U.S. efforts in Iraq, to the increase of new terrorist attacks on American interests, to strained relations with its transatlantic partners.

As a remedy, the group called for a new White House office to manage strategic direction and government coordination of public diplomacy – that is, the promotion of the national interest by informing, engaging and influencing people around the world. Public diplomacy, the group said, requires a "seriousness and commitment that matches the gravity of our approach to national defense and traditional state-to-state diplomacy."

The Advisory Group traveled to Egypt, Syria, Senegal, Morocco, Turkey, France and the United Kingdom,and had video conferences in Indonesia and Pakistan to investigate the U.S. public diplomacy programs toward the Arab and Muslim world. In the end, it recommended a broad restructuring of America’s global public diplomacy programs. Some of the major recommendations follow:

Under the proposed reorganization, a new White House Special Counselor with Cabinet rank, backed by an advisory board of experts, would provide strategic direction and coordination of public diplomacy government-wide. Also, a high-level dormant interagency policy coordinating group within the National Security Council would be reactivated and revitalized. Specific proposals to enhance the role of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in the State Department are contained in the report.

The State Department would remain the lead agency for enacting policy, and, along with other parts of government that participate in public diplomacy – including the Defense Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development and government-sponsored international broadcasting – it would be brought under the new strategic policy umbrella.

See the Commission's press release or full report text.

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