Minutes of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy September 2004 Official Meeting
Chairman Barbara M. Barrett
Commissioner Harold C. Pachios
Commissioner Jay T. Snyder
Commissioner Maria Sophia Aguirre
Commissioner Tre Charles Evers
Commissioner Elizabeth Bagley
Matt J. Lauer, Executive Director
Adam Ereli, State Department Deputy Spokesman
Subject: The Commission officially announced the release of its 2004 Report
Background: The report examines recommendations made by the Commission in recent years and assesses implementation of those recommendations by the relevant agencies involving communication of the USG with foreign populations, which is a critical component of U.S. foreign policy. The document includes leadership models and suggestions on private initiatives that promote dialogue and could have a cumulative long-term effect on foreign attitudes and understanding directed at the United States. The Commission responded to questions from members of the public regarding the report.
MR. ERELI: If I may, on behalf of the Department of State and R [Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs] family, welcome the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy headed by Barbara Barrett. They are here to present their Annual Report on Public Diplomacy, which you should all have a copy of. They presented this report to the Secretary of State Colin Powell yesterday.
This is a report we all look forward to every year because it is an assessment of where the U.S. Government is, and particularly where the State Department is, in terms of communicating its message to audiences abroad, how we're developing the message, how we're getting the message out and the impact we're having. They analyze and they present recommendations that we can act upon to do a better job.
So it's a very worthwhile and important contribution to our government's attempts to communicate and influence audiences abroad through the media, through exchange programs, through the whole range of educational, cultural and information programs.
We are very happy to have most of the commissioners here. They will talk about the general findings as well as specific findings, of short-term, long-term, and broadcasting recommendations.
With that, I will turn it over to Chairman Barrett, who will lead the proceedings, and then the commissioners will be available to answer your questions. Thank you and welcome.
CHAIRMAN BARRETT: Thank you very much, Adam. Good morning and welcome to this public announcement of the report of the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.
First, I'd like to introduce the participants on the Commission. I am joined first on my right by Commissioner Harold Pachios. Harold was the Chairman of the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. He practices law in the state of Maine and he is formerly the Deputy Press Secretary to President Lyndon Johnson.
Next I would like to introduce, to Harold's right, Commissioner Sophia Aguirre. Commissioner Aguirre is from Washington, D.C. She's an Associate Professor in Economics at The Catholic University of America. Commissioner Aguirre.
On my far left, I would like to introduce Commissioner and Ambassador Elizabeth Bagley of Washington, D.C. Commissioner Bagley is an attorney who served as U.S. Ambassador to Portugal under Bill Clinton was a senior advisor to the Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in this building. Commissioner Bagley.
Next, Commissioner Jay Snyder. Commissioner Snyder is from New York. He's a principal in the firm of HBJ Investments, LLC, which specializes in private equity investments. During the Administration of President Clinton, Commissioner Snyder served as U.S. Representative to the 55th United Nations General Assembly. Commissioner Snyder.
My name is Barbara Barrett. I am Chairman of the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. I am from Arizona.
This Commission is a bipartisan panel created by Congress. Since 1948, this Commission has been evaluating public diplomacy, making recommendations to the Secretary of State, to the President and to Congress and reporting to the American people.
This Commission report reflects findings from the past year. We have done fieldwork and have met with leaders and implementers of public diplomacy throughout the United States and around the world.
The report that we're issuing today makes recommendations for governmental improvements and changes in 15 particular resource areas. The Commission feels that public diplomacy today is more important than ever before. Public diplomacy is a key national security issue, and with improvements in public diplomacy, America will be more secure and, at the same time, be more happily involved with international relations and international affairs.
It is a very important matter that we take very seriously. We have done a great deal of work over the past year to bring to you the recommendations that are contained in this report. And, with that, we would like to get started in making some of those recommendations available to you.
Each of the commissioners would like to make a brief statement. We'll start with Commissioner Pachios, who will discuss short-term communications.
COMMISSIONER PACHIOS: I'm first going to speak on behalf of our absent colleague, Mr. Tré Evers. Tré resides in Orlando, Florida, and for obvious reasons he couldn't get here. No airplanes out of Orlando due to the hurricane.
We do not share all of our views. I mean, some we disagree on some things. But Tré has a focus and it is measuring how effective we are in communicating our message, and obviously what the message is. And he says you cannot do that, and we do not do it effectively, unless you have a special focus on, let's say, a particular region of the world and you emphasize all of the programs we have in that area; in other words, a lot of broadcasting exchanges, outreach programs and so forth, and then periodically, through polling and focus groups, measure the impact it has and trace it over a period of time.
He says otherwise we won't know how well we are doing, and that, in fact, has been one of the great criticisms of the government's public diplomacy programs: No one knows how effective they are. And most of these programs have been around a long time. So that's Tré's focus.
Would you like me to talk a little bit about my own?
CHAIRMAN BARRETT: Yes, please? Your own position now.
COMMISSIONER PACHIOS: My own position is that we've had many reports -- Council on Foreign Relations, Djerejian report, this Commission reports at least once a year, sometimes more than once a year -- all on public diplomacy. Particularly since 9/11 the focus has been on public diplomacy and why they hate us, as it's stated. And we focus on the programs that we have always had in public diplomacy.
Public diplomacy was extremely effective, as practiced by the U.S. Government, in the 1950s, '60s and '70s, particularly with Third World countries and in Eastern Europe behind the Iron Curtain. And many of the tools that we used then that were so effective are still around today, but the world has changed. In the Third World, people had no way of getting the information. They didn't have televisions. Most didn't have radios. Communications facilities had not reached the more remote, poorer regions of the Third World. And behind the Iron Curtain, information was controlled.
So we used shortwave radio, VOA, a lot of cultural programming, a lot of exchanges, magazines, and all of those things are still being talked about today and they've very important. But there's another dimension, which we really haven't focused on, and that is that everybody gets his or her information around the world simultaneously.
So my view is that public diplomacy has to be conducted in a manner similar to domestic American politics. You have to know something about your constituency. When you develop foreign policy, you have to develop it not to satisfy people around the world, but with those considerations in mind to understand what the reaction is going to be and how difficult it will be to implement foreign policy if the reaction is heavily opposed to you. That's the way we develop domestic policy.
So my view is that public diplomacy has to be moved to the highest levels of the White House and conducted from there and it has to be run by somebody who is very close to the President. And I think it will be a dramatic change in how we conduct public diplomacy programs. To be sure, exchanges, broadcasting, all the other things we do must remain and, in fact, cultural exchanges should be increased. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN BARRETT: Thank you, Commissioner Pachios.
COMMISSIONER AGUIRRE: Good morning. It's a pleasure to be here and to tell you a little bit about the work we have done this year. I'm going to take the next few minutes to identify some of the ways that we can build stronger relationships with international publics using long-term communications, which is the area that Commissioner Snyder and I concentrated on.
Exposure to American cultures and values built through personal relationships is key to fostering understanding. This requires a deep understanding of other people's cultures and history, as well as ours. Face-to-face interaction has an impact on audiences unmatched by mass communication methods, and funds should continue to be provided.
Developing partnerships in this area, in the area of education and exchange with private host country business is one of the ways in which we can interact, and we like to encourage the embassies and Fulbright Commission to get engaged into fostering these types of relationships.
Another way to build face-to-face relationship is through the English language teaching programs, which serve foreign nationals by increasing the opportunities in a globalized world, but while communicating American history, cultures and values in the context of personal relationships. U.S. short-term public diplomacy initiatives should continue to collaborate in these efforts. It is also important that the relations built be maintained when education and exchange program participants are returned to their countries, and another base that facilitates are continual -- has held such continuity is essential.
Finally, the other point I wanted to make was that long-term public diplomacy also benefits USAID activities, particularly when approached to cooperation is one that communicates openness, respect for local cultures, beliefs, policies and priorities. It is important that USAID ensure this so that programs funded by these institutions undertake such an approach.
I want to emphasize the importance of incorporated also public diplomacy into policy formation, not just information, and I think it's an important part of improving public diplomacy.
CHAIRMAN BARRETT: Thank you, Commissioner Aguirre.
COMMISSIONER SNYDER: Good morning. I want to thank Chairman Barrett for her leadership and her invaluable guidance in producing this report, and to my fellow Commissioners for their tireless efforts in making this Commission's work fruitful, and to Matt Lauer, our Executive Director, and our Commission staff for their diligence and dedication.
Programs that take significantly longer to have their desired effect on public diplomacy are what we characterize as long-term communication. That said, I would like to highlight a few issues that are included in this report: USAID, American Corners, Virtual Presence Posts, and public-private partnerships.
The work done by USAID affects millions of people around the world and represents much of the U.S. Government's foreign development assets. It has been our policy to understate aid projects to the recipient populations so, until recently, most of these efforts have gone unpublicized. As one of-- if not the-- largest donor countries in most regions of the world, America was not given credit for its generosity. Communication between USAID and public diplomacy officers had been nominal at best. However, recently, efforts have been made to greatly improve their interaction. Last year, USAID began the process of changing its policy to incorporate acknowledgement of its programs. Today, all the programs and projects carry the attribution, "Funded by the American people." This is a major step in highlighting our involvement and bettering the lives of its aid recipients.
By doing so, we demonstrate our values by the size, scope and types of projects we fund. As stated in the report, it is important to take into consideration the host country priorities. But when these priorities do not coincide with America's core values, we must not compromise our principles when considering these aid projects.
Since our report of June 2003, new forms of diplomacy have made great strides, with the State Department stepping up its efforts to expand American Corners and Virtual Presence Posts. Since most are situated on college campuses and public sites such as libraries, many of our existing corners are not as well placed or as accessible to the general public as we would like them to be. However, in the next year, we plan to open 130 new facilities. We hope that they will be located in areas with the potential to provide more people with greater access.
Our Virtual Presence Posts program responds to the increasing global usage of the Internet. These interactive Web sites are a way of enhancing public diplomacy without bricks and mortar. The State Department needs to continue to utilize this expanding form of communication.
While embassy websites and Virtual Presence Posts are good first steps, we have to ensure that their presence on the web is more visible. We need to find ways to drive visitors to these sites. To do this, we must keep the content current and market regionally to let people know of their existence.
Public/private partnerships help to coordinate efforts and resources toward the shared goal of improving America's image. The Culture Connect Program links "cultural ambassadors," --prominent artists and intellectuals-- with foreign publics. The Specialist Program provides embassies with American speakers on the topics of special interest to their local populations. These programs are extremely effective at reaching a younger, broader, deeper audience. We encourage individual embassies to further explore and expand the public/private partnerships at the local level.
Our Cultural Affairs budget has long been neglected, with about $3 million available in 2004. The Department needs to optimize these scant resources. To do this, the budget should be used as seed money to help start programs with the goal of them becoming self-sustaining.
While there are many promising developments in the area of long-term communication, clearly, there is much work to be done. In recent years, foreign public perception of the United States has deteriorated. Now, more than ever, we must work efficiently and make more effective use of our resources if we hope to reverse this trend.
CHAIRMAN BARRETT: Thank you, Commissioner Snyder.
COMMISSIONER BAGLEY: Thank you, Chairman Barrett. Good morning.
I'd like to echo the commendation of my colleagues and also commend the staff and Matt Lauer, who is our Executive Director and has done a fabulous job putting together this report and guiding us through all the issues.
My particular issue deals with international broadcasting. Most of you know something about the Broadcasting Board of Governors, but those who don't, a little history. It was formed in 1999, called BBG, Broadcasting Board of Governors, became independent and it is an autonomous entity responsible for all of U.S. international broadcasting. Its role is to safeguard the integrity, quality and effectiveness of our international broadcasts.
The BBG is currently facing two main challenges. First, it needs to reach a wider, non-elite audience. We are very good at reaching elite audiences and, obviously, those who speak English are watching CNN, BBC and other broadcasts around the world. Al Hurra is an Arabic-language broadcast and it is hoping to reach the masses.
At this point, there is no real measurable impact, but we're hoping that with the Nielsen study that is being conducted, and it should come out in another couple of weeks, we should have some measurable impact on how many people it's reaching out, how many households it's reaching, and hopefully what their view of Al Hurra, in particular, is.
Ken Tomlinson is the Chair of the BBG. Norm Pattiz is one of its Governors. They met with the Commission in March to brief us on the two newest initiatives that Norm Pattiz actually spearheaded. One, as you know, is Radio Sawa, a 24-hour Arabic language network launched in March of 2002. Recent surveys have shown the percentage of adults, and this is a young audience of 15 and older, are listening to Sawa on a weekly basis -- for example, 73 percent in Morocco, 27 percent in Jordan, 41 percent in Qatar. So they've actually done a good job of outreach through a combination of American music and Arabic music and newscasts that come on every hour, ten minutes each hour.
The other initiative, as I mentioned before, is Al Hurra, the Arabic language satellite television channel launched in February of 2004. There were many doubters thinking that Al Hurra could not succeed, but in fact, initial surveys are promising. And as I said before, we will have more tangible results when we get the information from the Nielsen ratings.
One survey found that 53 percent of viewers believe that Al Hurra's news is very or somewhat reliable, so that's actually a good sign. A seven-country survey that was conducted in April showed that 29 percent of adults had tuned in to Al Hurra. I visited the headquarters yesterday in Springfield, Virginia; most of you probably know about it. I think we have an Al Hurra representative here. Your headquarters is quite impressive -- state-of-the-art equipment, amazing. And they told me that Radio Sawa would be joining you, which will be important because they can coordinate more closely. As it is now, they actually advertise on each other's stations, so we're hoping that Radio Sawa's popularity will also translate into more viewing for Al Hurra.
It's very encouraging, but when I asked Norm Pattiz, who is very involved in this, if the BBG had any plans to expand into internet broadcasting, his answer was one word: resources. So as we noted in the report, we're hopeful that there will be additional resources so they can further expand their programming.
CHAIRMAN BARRETT: Thank you, Commissioner Bagley. Well, from what you've heard, you can tell that the report discusses the many recommendations of what can and should be done to enhance America's public diplomacy. We have taken a look at each of 15 issues, we've looked at the past recommendations that have been made, evaluated recent actions, and then make additional recommendations.
So this report contains recommendations of what needs to be done from here. The report acknowledges that a great deal of progress has been made. We've heard a little bit about some of that progress: the establishment of Al Hurra and the visa waiver extension by Congress. We've seen a lot of progress on the use of the Internet and improvements in language training through the Diplomatic Readiness Initiative. We've seen better coordination through the Policy Coordinating Council.
So there's been a great deal of progress made, yet much remains to be done. For America to have the position in the world that it ought, there is a great deal that remains. We need further language training. We need better resources and more resources for broadcasting. We need to improve our openness for visas and for students to come to the United States and study. We need enhanced exchanges and more opportunities along those lines.
So there's a great deal that remains to be done. America has long been a place that has been the magnet for the best and the brightest. Today's rule would be secure borders but open doors. This report makes many recommendations to help to enhance the security of the borders, yet the openness of our doors.
We are now prepared to take questions.
QUESTION: To get to your recommendations, I read the report, to specifically your suggestion that ambassadors spend at least 25 percent of their time talking up, telling America's stories, the cliché you use in your report, and that they organize networks of expatriates and other friendly folk to, again, carry the message. These are all advertising words that are in the report. Is there any concern -- I don't suppose there is, but I'll just try it out anyhow -- that you're suggesting politicization -- that this would politicize the Foreign Service? I thought an ambassador's job is to basically get information and report back to Washington what he's hearing, not to go out on the stump and make stump speeches. So I wonder about that.
And you don't get down to cases. You have Iraq, the war in Iraq. Essentially, it strikes me you're saying our people overseas should be proponents, should speak out in favor of American policy. Well, about half -- at least 60 percent of the country doesn't like our policy in Iraq, by latest polls. Would you have ambassadors go out and say, there are two ways of looking at this, post-war? There are people who think it's effective in doing the right thing. There are people who think losing over 1,000 Americans, for instance, is not really terrific. I don't know where you're going with this. You have generalizations here. Long question. Do you want ambassadors to go out and rally the people out there in support of a particular partisan approach, the going approach, the incumbent's approach to foreign policy? That's not informing, that's advertising.
MR. PACHIOS: I'd be happy to respond, and let me just say, because I detect a little argument in your question here.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) generalizations and recommendations.
MR. PACHIOS: Okay, all right, fair --
QUESTION: I've been around here a while and I wonder if Foreign Service Officers will like being told they're public diplomats instead of information gatherers.
MR. PACHIOS: Okay, well, let me not generalize. I disagree with you, and let me say, as a matter of background, I'm one of the Democratic members --
QUESTION: I can tell. (Inaudible.)
MR. PACHIOS: I'm one of the Democratic members, and I have opposed the war in Iraq personally since the day it was even conceived of, all right? So that's my position.
Now, Ambassadors are appointed by the President. They work for the President. We have an Administration, and that Administration has a policy, and if you want to work for it, then you've got to be on board. You can disagree privately, you can go to your boss and say, "I don't like this," but we need people speaking out. If we're going to have a policy, and we've arrived at a policy in a democratic way, then ambassadors who are appointed -- they're political appointments, confirmed by the Senate -- need to deliver the message. Ambassadors no longer are just reporters. Those days are gone. Most of the decisions in the world now depend on public opinion.
An ambassador can go and talk to the foreign minister all day long, but that's not going to help very much if the public -- if the public opinion in the country to which that ambassador is representing us is totally against our policies.
So you've got to communicate with the people, not just government officials. So I disagree with you.
QUESTION: But that, as you mentioned before, since -- for the last three years, there have been this plethora of reports, all very similar to this, none of them actually breaking, with respect, not breaking any new ground. And you just hit the right -- the problem is not the message and how you're delivering it, the problem is the policy. And until groups like yours actually sit around and address -- there is no way you're going to be able to sell a pro-Israel -- a blindly pro-Israel policy for, just as an example, and let's pretend that our pro-Country X policy and Country Y, which has been opposed to Country X ever since it was created -- let's not use names. I mean, so, you know, none of these recommendations are going to make any good, or do any good at all unless someone takes a look at what actually is driving the anti-American or the hatred of the policy.
And this thing on page 13 about -- you talked about officials going on television and calling people who commit acts against -- what you call terrorist acts -- calling them "evil-doers", that's just -- I mean, that's not -- employ terms with negative connotations like "evil-doers" that accurately translate into Arabic and other languages, that's insulting to people, I think. I mean, it sounds insulting when the President of the United States says it to Americans. I can't imagine what it sounds like to people in the Arab world when they hear "evil-doers," that, you know, they're being talked down to on this.
So I guess my question is, when is it that a committee, or a commission like yourself or all these others are actually going to come out and look at what the real problem is that's driving anti-American sentiment and not just how to dress up the message to try and make an unpopular policy popular?
AMBASSADOR BAGLEY: I agree it is a problem. And I agree with Hal. As a former Ambassador, I have to tell you our role was not information gathering and reporting back. Our role -- and that was Bill Clinton's mandate and I represented him -- was to go out and talk about what we were doing about the economic message, security, etc. I was particularly dealing with NATO when I was Ambassador to Portugal. And it was extremely important for us to have -- to work with our allies, to explain U.S. policy, to hopefully bring the host government along, although it wasn't that difficult for Portugal because it was an ally already.
But we did have some issues, and I was not in a position where I disagreed with the President's policy. In this situation, I certainly would disagree with this current government's policy, and I'd have a hard time representing President Bush, especially with Iraq.
But I would have to say, if I were in that position as a career person, not political, I would certainly be able, I think, as an Ambassador, to be able to show, to tell both sides of the story and to be able to approach it in a way that wasn't completely being a puppet of the government, but on the other hand saying that there are issues that they may not agree with, but look at some of the other things that are happening. There are ways of presenting it in a more favorable light, even if you don't personally agree.
Public diplomacy is a very important part of being an Ambassador, especially now. We have to be able to engage and inform -- maybe not influence. That may be too much and it may be too overtly preachy. But I think our role is to certainly inform and to try to explain policy, even if we don't agree with it.
So I think that we have some work to do on that, and I think our ambassadors should be trained in being able to explain policy.
QUESTION: Do you think that's what the report is saying, to get both sides of the story? When the report says take America -- the carry the policy message --
COMMISSIONER BAGLEY: Well, I think you can shade it in a way that you're credible.
QUESTION: The report is saying that our people overseas, particularly our ambassadors, should flak for the current policy. It doesn't say, go out and explain pro and con, tell people to make up their own mind.
COMMISSIONER BAGLEY: No, it doesn't say -- it's just to explain, I think --
QUESTION: And Matt's example is an example, but it's not the only one. The Democrats on the Commission obviously speak in terms of, you know, both sides. It isn't as ardently propagandist as the report seems to be.
Now, you know, I think this is a -- would be a tremendous change if I take it seriously in the function of our people overseas. They become advocates. They're to stand up and say, --
COMMISSIONER BAGLEY: Well, you're representing the President of the United States --
QUESTION: -- "We're winning the war in Iraq; we're doing swell." They'll certainly -- they're almost, well, the story has changed. Now, elections in January are doable, right? Throughout the country?
COMMISSIONER BAGLEY: I think in order to be credible an ambassador would have to say, "Obviously, we're not doing as well as we wanted to. Obviously, the mission is not accomplished. There are deaths. There are injuries. There are problems." You have to be credible and acknowledge what's happening on the ground.
That's how I would be. But I do --
QUESTION: I don't see that in the report, but I hear you.
COMMISSIONER BAGLEY: -- but I think that it should be the role of the Ambassador. I think our point was Ambassadors should be able to be, as representatives of the President, of the present government, they should be in a position where they can explain. And many Ambassadors that we saw when we were visiting embassies were actually not saying anything. And I think that's wrong because I think their role is to explain U.S. policy.
QUESTION: But isn't the Commission's opinion, all of your opinion, that if all of your recommendations were taken, that you would be able, the United States would be able to sell an unpopular policy? I --
CHAIRMAN BARRETT: Go ahead.
COMMISSIONER AGUIRRE: I think the issue here is not so much to sell or not sell, but present and explain it and people can make up their minds.
QUESTION: I think the people understand what the policy -- I'm, I mean --
COMMISSIONER AGUIRRE: Well, you would be surprised, the amount of people that we have found who said, "We do not have enough explanation of your policies." And these are journalists all over the world.
QUESTION: Journalists -- it's the elite that when you say that you speak so well, I mean, I thought you were trying to get to the non-elite audiences. People that think that precisely the problem here is there's a fundamental failure to recognize that the problem is not getting the message out. The problem -- people understand the policy clearly, and they don't like it. And that's why we're not popular overseas. It's not how we're -- not how you're explaining it or what you're telling them.
CHAIRMAN BARRETT: Commissioner Pachios.
COMMISSIONER PACHIOS: You're right. We don't make the policy, so we're in the business of dealing with what we have. And there's no argument with the point you're making.
Everybody understands that, in the Middle East, for instance, whatever message we're communicating, the fact is that it's seen through the prism of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute first, and later, the occupation of Iraq. That's understood.
Nonetheless, there are great things about this country. And there are things about this country that appeal to people universally throughout the world. And I don't think it serves the American people very well to keep quiet about that. Nobody's perfect, and we're not going to have policies that appeal to everybody all over the world all of the time.
So I agree with your point, and frankly, if I were in charge, I'd change the policy. But I'm not in charge. But I have something to do with this and I think there's much that we can do to ameliorate whatever acrimony is developing between people of this country and foreign publics.
MODERATOR: If you all could just identify yourselves from the organization and your name when you give comment, that'd be great.
QUESTION: I'm Matt Lee from APF.
QUESTION: Saul Hudson from Reuters.
You just touched on, with your answer, on what I was going to ask, but could you please expand a little? You've talked about understanding the constituency out there, and you've also mentioned that over the last few years, things have been deteriorating in terms of the perception of people abroad.
So as you look at providing a solution regarding public diplomacy, how bad is the problem?
COMMISSIONER PACHIOS: The problem is obvious. You can see it in the Pew polls. I don't think any one of us can be accurate in describing how bad the problem is. You look at the polls; it's a subjective thing. Make your own decision.
QUESTION: Is it still deteriorating?
CHAIRMAN BARRETT: Commissioner Snyder
COMMISSIONER SNYDER: I think that a lot of the polls have demonstrated we had a significant deterioration in a period after the beginnings of the Iraqi conflict. From what I understand, the most recent polls have showed some stabilization, but not significant improvement from that lower level.
But I would like to comment on the issue of policy that you brought up. And I think that we don't want to be beholden to public perception for the policies we create. It's important, I think, and it's been stated in many reports how we need to get public diplomacy involved in the beginning, at takeoff rather than the landing. But we have to be very clear that we don't want to have the perception guide policy.
Our role is to take the policies that we have and put them and explain them well to foreign publics. So that's really our role here. It's not to get into the issue of which policies would be good or would not be good to a specific audience.
QUESTION: Well, I understand that. I just wonder if the Commission really thinks that if you do everything that's in this report that you're going to be able to sell a policy that's fundamentally unpopular. I mean, that seems to be your -- you seem to think, yes, you will be able to. Am I right?
COMMISSIONER SNYDER: I think you make a difference. I don't know; can you sell it? I wouldn't go that far. Can you make a difference? Yes, I think you can.
CHAIRMAN BARRETT: The role of the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy is to evaluate how we better communicate with the global publics. We won't change policy and we won't be the ones who dictate policy. But we have a job in evaluating how that policy is communicated, how our message has been emanated.
We'll have policies that our friends and neighbors around the world agree with and those that they don't. And we won't have 100 percent unanimity on any of our policies. But to have a solid floor of understanding and communication and exchange is what the public diplomacy bedrock mission is, and then to build upon that with the policies that will sometimes be consistent with the desires of those publics and sometimes not.
You've been trying to get a question in.
QUESTION: Yeah, Paul Baskin with Bloomberg.
Commissioner Pachios had a suggestion, I thought about it, a presidential level advisor, and I'm just trying to figure out what that would actually mean. It sounds like maybe a Karl Rove kind of person, that instead of being -- watching out always for the domestic angle of it, would be looking out for the international angle. And does that mean -- I mean, how would a person like that be empowered, because what's -- there's no voter constituency for anyone like that. That person seems like you'd put them there and they'd be shunted aside, it would seem. And it sounds like Commissioner Snyder said at one point get in at the beginning, the ground level of policy, at another point said not to have the perception guide the policy. So I'm kind of confused as to which it is that you want. Do you want to have a situation where this advisor, when the President talks about invading Iraq, does this advisor say, you know, "Mr. President, maybe that wouldn't go over so well, maybe don't do it"? And would it guide the policy or what? How would that functionally work?
COMMISSIONER PACHIOS: I don't think it would guide the policy, but I think that it would be input at the highest levels and those things would be considered at the beginning of the process of developing policy. I worked in the White House and I know that if Lyndon Johnson had made Bill Moyers his counselor on international public opinion -- and, incidentally, international public opinion wasn't nearly as important then as it is now -- that the President would have listened to him. He would not have been shunted aside. It’s relationships and it’s levels at the White House, and I think that's what's required here.
And let's keep in mind that no President is -- I'm not being critical of President Bush. No President in American history has ever done this because this is an evolving thing. This global communications revolution has changed everything. And someday, maybe next week, maybe ten years from now, a President will install at a very high level in the White House somebody like David Gergen to deal just with how you develop policy and how you articulate it to the rest of the world, as we do for domestic audiences, for the voters.
QUESTION: Is this a Commission recommendation or this is an individual suggestion.
COMMISSIONER PACHIOS: This is just an individual -- yeah.
QUESTION: This high-level one isn't in this, right? But it has been in previous reports, other different ones. Let me must say, I mean, I'm not trying to be critical. I mean, the administration that you worked in presided over a war that was vastly more unpopular than the war that we're in right now, so no one is trying to be critical, at least I'm not, of this administration's current policy.
CHAIRMAN BARRETT: Questions here, yes.
QUESTION: Hi. (Inaudible) from CNN. How did you gather all your findings, number one? And number two; did you find any differences regionally in the world? Was this across the board? Was it mainly focused on the Muslim world, or what?
CHAIRMAN BARRETT: Our findings were a compilation of what we found through field visits -- the Commission has met in Mexico City, in Ottawa, in China and in Europe. Our Commission this time last year issued a report that was entirely focused on just the Middle East. That was the Djerejian report from a sub reporting group to this Commission. So the Commission's analyses come from looking at the many past reports, not reviewing that same ground, just reviewing the reports and taking the recommendations the previous reports had made to consider, then field work, discussions with people throughout the government and beyond. We have met with Secretary Powell. We hope to inspire the implementers to make improvements consistently.
Each of the commissioners has volunteered a great deal of time and effort into these recommendations, which have been presented to the Secretary of State.
QUESTION: And regionally, were there any big differences in terms of public opinion of the U.S.?
CHAIRMAN BARRETT: So far as public opinion, what we found is that regionally there are different ways by which communications are available. We went into the heart of Siberia to evaluate the use of technology, where embassy staff is not currently available or consulate staff. We've gone into the some of the back regions to find out if there are ways of providing an American presence when security or other reasons make it difficult to have local staff there.
So we found that security makes a big difference in some of the countries and that our methods by which we interact have to change to accommodate local conditions. We found also that language makes a big difference. In the countries where we have minimal language capabilities, it's much more difficult to communicate America's message, and so there has been a Diplomatic Readiness Initiative that is a Secretary Powell initiative –
COMMISSIONER SNYDER: (In progress) -- reviewed and with the idea of them being graduating from our own Cultural Affairs program and becoming self-sustaining. Our report emphasizes the importance of using the scant cultural affairs budget to seed projects that can eventually become self-sustaining.
CHAIRMAN BARRETT: I would add that culture, just as in students, have been haunted by problems with visas in the last several years. Historically, America has attracted students, performers and artists but visa processes find some of these people turned away for lack of clearances. Others are intimidated because of a growing reputation that the U.S. visa process is cumbersome.
We perceive that as a major problem. We've seen some progress with the congressional extension of the Visa Waiver Program. We need to engage technology. We need to implement biometric-embedded, machine-readable passports. But in the meantime, America is losing cultural, educational and other valued visitors. It's a topic that is of great interest and concern to the Commission.
QUESTION: Do you all have an estimate of how much it might cost to implement at least the hard (inaudible) the 24-hour message dissemination and monitoring centers in London, here and -- the UK, here and Australia? Is there a cost estimate for any (inaudible)?
CHAIRMAN BARRETT: We haven't done a cost estimate.
QUESTION: Doesn't that present a bit of a problem if you're trying to get the recommendations taken seriously?
CHAIRMAN BARRETT: There are a variety of ways that it could be implemented and, in fact, we have had 24-hour during specific crisis times. And the recommendation is to have a center that can be responsive 24 hours consistently the cost would vary according to how it's set up.
A PARTICIPANT: I think we have time for about one more question.
CHAIRMAN BARRETT: One more?
QUESTION: (Inaudible) the creation of Sawa, of Hurra, also VOA before, have you reached any measurable impact, any change towards the U.S. policies? And also, this anti-American sentiment -- is it only in the Middle East or is it a widespread issue now that you have to deal with?
COMMISSIONER BAGLEY: Has there been a measurable impact?
QUESTION: I know (inaudible) --
COMMISSIONER BAGLEY: Al Hurra just came on in February of this year there really is nothing yet. There are some surveys and we're looking at it, hoping there'll be maybe a 10 to 15 percent audience at this point. That's what they were hoping when I met with them yesterday.
They don't have as much money as Al Jazeera, for example. Our government has funded them, but not as much as you are funded. So it makes -- that makes a difference.
But there should be more of a measurable -- and I was arguing for that as well. You have to have some kind of measurement. And Nielsen ratings, obviously, are going to be important. They should be coming out in another couple weeks. So that's where we are in terms of measuring.
Radio Sawa, as you know, came into being in 2002, has much more of an audience and has really established a foothold in the Middle East.
QUESTION: Are you saying in this case the Middle East and this area is a kind of new experience for you?
COMMISSIONER BAGLEY: Well, Radio Sawa and Al Hurra are dedicated to the Middle East, being broadcast in the Arabic language.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) of the U.S.'s trial of its -- some efforts in a new area that has been not tried before?
COMMISSIONER BAGLEY: Well, clearly, the anti-American sentiment is most obvious in the Middle East because of the policies we talked about, because of the Israeli-Palestinian issues and Iraq. Quite obviously that is where we are focusing a lot of our resources. But these are issues around the world and it is something that each of our embassies are dealing with.
COMMISSIONER PACHIOS: There's nothing new about it. The U.S. has been broadcasting in the Middle East since after World War II.
QUESTION: I know. I know, sir.
COMMISSIONER PACHIOS: So there's nothing new about it.
QUESTION: No, Radio Sawa is new in terms of --
COMMISSIONER PACHIOS: It is a new delivery system. It's not shortwave. It's FM and AM, sure. But in terms of broadcasting in the Middle East, that's nothing new.
CHAIRMAN BARRETT: This concludes our report. Thank you very much.
# # #