Minutes of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy July 2003 Official Meeting

Carl T. Rowan Briefing Room
Washington, DC
July 24, 2003

Barbara Barrett, Chairman
Harold Pachios
Sophia Aguirre
Elizabeth Bagley
Charles "Tre' " Evers
Jay Snyder

Ambassador James Holmes
Tim Niblock
Ambassador Edward Djerejian

Chairman Barrett: Good morning and welcome to the first public meeting of this constitution of the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. I would like to start by introducing our Commissioners.

The first Commissioner I would like to introduce is Commissioner Harold Pachios. Harold is here to my right. Commissioner Pachios is from Maine. He formerly served as the Chairman of this Commission. He is a managing partner in a Portland law firm and was Deputy Press Secretary under President Lyndon Johnson.

Next I would like to introduce Commissioner Sophia Aguirre. Commissioner Aguirre is from Washington, DC. She is an Associate Professor in Economics at the Catholic University of America and Academic Dean at Lexington College in Chicago. Commissioner Aguirre.

Commissioner and Ambassador Elizabeth Bagley of Washington, DC. Commissioner Bagley served as U.S. Ambassador to Portugal under President Clinton and as a Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Next, Commissioner Tré Evers. Tré is from Florida. He is President and Co-Founder of the Consensus Communications in the Orlando, Florida-based public relations and government affairs firm. Commissioner Evers.

Commissioner Jay Snyder. Commissioner Snyder is of New York. He is a principal in HBJ Investments, LLC specializing in private equity investments and serving as a U.S. Representative to the 55th United Nations General Assembly.

The new and continuing Commissioners of the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy; would you join me in welcoming them.

I am Chairman Barbara Barrett and I am from Arizona. I am delighted to serve in this capacity. I have a few announcements to make at the beginning of our meeting.

First, by the good graces and quick pen of Under Secretary Patricia Harris, the very limited budget of this Commission has been augmented so that the efforts can be supported financially as the importance of public diplomacy has been recognized as a national and global issue.

Secondly, I would like to announce that there has been a sub-group appointed. There has been established the Advisory Group on Public Diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim World. It is a sub-group that will work with this Commission, and serving on that sub-group is Commissioner Pachios.

Third, I would like to announce that I have been working with the Afghan-U.S. Women’s Council that met here in Washington last week including participation by the Afghan Foreign Minister and the Afghan Minister of Women’s Issues. We met with the Congressional Women’s Caucus. We met with Dr. Condoleezza Rice at the White House as well as Mrs. Bush, and we met here at the State Department including meetings with Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Next, I would like to announce that this Commission, though only now holding its first Commission meeting, having just been sworn-in in May, this Commission has already undertaken some fact-finding in New Diplomacy. There has been an evaluation that you will hear more about that has resulted in a report on New Diplomacy. That report will be produced and discussed by Commissioner Tré Evers and Commissioner Jay Snyder. With that, I would like to invite Commissions Evers and Snyder to give us some background on that report. Thank you.

Commissioner Tré Evers: Thank you Chairman Barrett. With your indulgence, the Chairman got to introduce each of us and I think we are all honored to serve with her as Chairman. She has an illustrious career herself in Civil Aviation and at the FAA, and is currently Chairman of the Board of the Thunderbird Graduate School, as well, in Arizona. So we are honored to be here, and thank you for your leadership, and for arranging for this fact-finding mission, too, which was very enlightening. First, I would like to thank Ambassador Jim Holmes from the Office of E-Diplomacy, and Mr. Joe Merante for sponsoring our trip, and especially for Mr. Merante traveling with us and actually planning the trip, which was very helpful. I also want to thank Rick Ruth, who I see in the audience here from the Assistant Secretary’s office, and our able Staff Director Matt Lauer. Commissioner Snyder and myself had the opportunity to explore some of these new tools of New Diplomacy in Russia, Turkey and Serbia.

I joined the trip in Turkey and so Commissioner Snyder will talk about what he saw at the Virtual Consulate concept in Russia, and I am going to discuss for a minute the American Presence Posts as well as the American Corner, which we viewed first hand in Turkey and Serbia. It is important to note that these two concepts are different and opposite in many regards. The APP that we visited in Izmir, Turkey is located in a city that previously had a Consulate General. So they were used to a larger American presence and a foreign national still worked there when the APP arrived, and so when the APP got there the foreign national started working in the same office as the APP, which is different than it is in other American Presence Posts.

The gentleman who was sent there by the Ambassador was sent with kind of a multi-mission task to do some public diplomacy commercial promotion as well as American citizen services. He has a small office in the city where he has one assistant and then this foreign national who works with him there. They perform American citizen services there as well as public diplomacy-type of stuff. The interesting thing that we found is that the foreign national was able to sign off on documents before the American officer got there. When the American arrived, that sign-off duty, if you will, had to transfer to him because he was the American officer. So in one regard, it gave him kind of some more paperwork that he had to do that took away a little bit from the original mission, which was kind of a little idiosyncrasy there. In addition to that, our person there speaks to local civic groups, teaches a class at the local university and interacts with government officials on quite a good basis, and I think represents us well in that area. The Department of Commerce should be noted and has an office in Izmir, as well, promoting commercial trade. They are in a separate building in another area of town in kind of the Chamber of Commerce building.

I think that the one thing that struck us when we were at the Presence Post was the amount of security needed because of the actual presence of an American officer being stationed there. He has a driver, an American bullet proof car, a personal body guard, who is paid for by the local authorities, and then both at his residence and at his office, which are in separate buildings, there are two or three security people at each one. So, he has a rather large security detail. You have to call ahead to get an appointment to go meet with the foreign national. If you want visa services, you have to go through a security process, go up an elevator and go through all sorts of secured stuff to get there. So it is not accessible by the public and I don’t think it is meant to be. We believe, and this report reflects this belief, that this concept is valuable and useful but must be mission-focused, and the Ambassador and the PAO must make the financial and time commitment to make sure that it works.

This concept contrasts kind of drastically with the American Corner. The American Corner that we visited in Nis, Serbia is in a university town of 300,000 with a 15,000-student population and the local government came up with the idea of a kind of international building. They have a small building in a nice little town square area where below us is a French, I don’t think they call it a Corner, but it is an office where the French government has an office and their vision is to have three or four more offices of other countries there. I think the French and ourselves are the first to be there. They are targeted specifically towards the university population, to students and alumni. And so when we were there, it was combined two rooms the size of this room here, kind of a multi-level area, and they had six or seven computers. Every computer was filled. There were students in there going about what they were doing, researching either about taking entrance exams for graduate classes or learning more about universities or colleges in America where they might study. They had a small reference library and I think, given the target population which tended to be much younger, we found that most of the books were reasonably unused at that point because most people in that age bracket are on the Internet. As we were talking last night, I think Commissioner Snyder normally hits the print button on his emails so he still used to the paper version, but these students were clearly into the Internet age. We found the local government and the foreign nationals there were very enthusiastic and strong boosters of it, which I think is the real key for making these American Corners work.

The big difference between the American Presence Posts and the American Corner is that the APP requires an actual American officer and the rather large security detail that goes along with that and is less accessible to the public. The American Corner is staffed by foreign nationals so the public is better able to access it and it doesn’t require the security detail. The advantage the APP has is obviously kind of an external advantage in that a person can go out, teach classes, interact with government officials, speak to civic groups, plan events when dignitaries arrive that the foreign nationals can’t, so they are really two very different approaches. We think both concepts work well and help promote American ideas and values abroad. We do believe before implementing one or the other, careful consideration needs to be made as to the target audience, who you are trying to target and how you are trying to target it and to make sure it is very mission-focused so that you don’t end up doing 20 things instead of the two things you are supposed to do. So that, Chairman, is my report on the two things, and Commissioner Snyder is going to report on the Virtual Consulate, which I think you will see fits in well with this.

Commissioner Jay Snyder: I would also like to thank Ambassador Jim Holmes and Joe Merante, along with the entire Office of E-Diplomacy for sponsoring the Commission’s examination of the New Diplomacy model. In addition, I would like to express our gratitude to Rick Ruth and to our Executive Director, Matt Lauer, whose support and dedication to our mission was invaluable. The New Diplomacy utilizes innovative thinking and new forms of media to expand the reach of our foreign policy. It has the potential to increase our ability to put forth America’s message to the global society. I think it is quite fitting today that our discussion is in the Carl T. Rowan Press Briefing Room. Mr. Rowan, the former journalist who succeeded Edward R. Murrow as Director of the USIA, knew how to communicate directly with people all over the people. That is what New Diplomacy is all about. To inform and influence audiences, the Department of State must continue to go beyond traditional government-to-government communication. Today we have the ability to speak directly to local populations. These populations have a great deal of influence over their respective government’s foreign policy.

One of our fastest growing forms of the new direct communication is the Internet. As international Internet access increases, the American government’s presence on the Internet must also increase. The Virtual Consulate model, which was created in Yekatrinburg, Russia by Tom Niblock, who we are fortunate to have with us today, has the potential to be an important building block in this strategy. The Virtual Consulate uses the Internet to communicate and interact with local publics and interested Americans. It is a locally branded product that has a portion of its content customized to the target region. This model may be able to handle up to 50% of the physical Consulate’s workload.

In Chelyabinsk and Yekatrinburg, Russia, I witnessed the influence a Virtual Consulate can wield. From our General Consulate in Yekatrinburg, our staff is able to stream relevant and newsworthy information in a time sensitive manner to our focus population in Chelyabinsk. This is a region with nearly three million people where we have had no previous presence. The Virtual Consulate is probably the most flexible and agile instrument in the New Diplomacy model. With the inevitable increase in Internet usage in most of the regions in the world, it is important for us to invest heavily in the Virtual Consulate concept. We are capable of doing all of the work of a Virtual Consulate remotely, but to optimize its effectiveness, we should augment the program with regular visits from the Ambassador and other senior American officials. This will increase the legitimacy and the interest among the focus population. These visits add to the public awareness through increased press coverage, which further enables host populations to view the Virtual Consulate as a critical extension of American physical presence.

As the internet accessibility increases, host country citizens will begin to see the Virtual Consulates as one stop shopping for all news, information and services brought to them by the U.S. Government. With $10,000 in startup costs, this robust model can handle many tasks performed by the physical Consulate. Only the issuing of visas requires a fixed location and a stationary staff. The Virtual Consulate with a series of Internet kiosks throughout a region can be viewed as a gateway for the New Diplomacy in areas that are currently under-served. Coordinated with American Presence Posts and the American Corners, which my colleague Commissioner Evers has just spoken of, the Virtual Consulate has the power to enhance public diplomacy in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Let me now return the microphone to Chairman Barrett, who will introduce Ambassador Holmes and Tom Niblock, who are the experts on this subject. Thank you.

Chairman Barrett: Thanks very much, Commissioners. It is my pleasure to introduce Ambassador Jim Holmes. Ambassador Holmes was appointed to head the new Office of E-Diplomacy in July 2002. The E-Diplomacy office has been asked to insure that the State’s considerable IT investment fully serves the State Department’s business needs and that it meshes the Administration’s E-Government initiatives and fully exploits the existing interagency networks and Web technologies. No small task. Ambassador Holmes, through his E-Diplomacy role is also expected to establish a long-term strategy for knowledge management. Ambassador Holmes has had an extensive 35-year-career in Foreign Service. He has served in Turkey, Pakistan, New Zealand and Norway. He has served also as Special Advisor to the Balkans and as the United States Ambassador to Latvia, and the President’s Coordinator for Assistance to Central and Eastern Europe. Ambassador Holmes.

Ambassador Jim Holmes: Thank you very much, Madam Chairman. As you were introducing the Commissioners, I recalled not only that I had the opportunity to meet the former Chairman Pachios but also about 7 years ago, Ambassador Bagley and I worked on creating content for the open broadcast network in Bosnia including the stunning achievement by Ambassador Bagley of obtaining free feeds of NBA basketball games from the United States which were broadcast into Bosnia. We thought at that time the hearts and minds would have gone through the hoops. I want to thank you very much for inviting me to speak with you about the Office of E-Diplomacy and also to thank you, Madam Chairman and the Commission for your support for the work of the Office of E-Diplomacy, and particularly for your efforts to encourage good professionals to think creatively about diplomacy.

Knudt Aarstadt is an 85-year-old gentleman farmer in South Dakota. His daughter sent him a check of one hundred dollars for his 85th birthday and on the birthday card she penned a note which said, Daddy, I have made arrangements with the Swedish bank, knowing that you don’t have a checking account, they will be happy to cash the check for you. Just take it in there and they will do it. Knudt took his check and went to the Swedish bank. He walked up to the counter, handed his check across the counter and the teller looked at the check and said, yes, Mr. Aarstadt, we have been expecting you. Just sign the check and I will give you your money. No, no, no, I know how this works. First you give me the money and then I sign the check. She said no, I’m sorry, you have to sign the check first and then I will give you your money. Knudt said no, reached across the counter, took his check, walked out the door and down the street to the Norwegian bank. He walked into the Norwegian bank, handed them the check and said his daughter said they were going to cash his check. The teller took the check, walked over to talk to her manager for a moment, came back and said, Mr. Aarstadt, we will be happy to cash your check. If you will sign it, I will give you your money. No, no, no, I know how this works. First you give me the money and then I will sign the check. The teller reached under the counter, pulled out a 2 x 4, whacked Knudt over the top of his head. He picked up the pen, signed his name. She gave him the money and he walked out the bank door with a smile on his face. He said that’s what I like about the Norwegian bank. First they explain things to you.

I have had a year long of application of blunt instruments to me in having the role of E-Diplomacy explained, and I appreciate the willingness of some of your Commissioners to go to the field and have some things explained, as well, and particularly the activities of New Diplomacy. So to be in Russia, to be in Turkey, to be in Serbia, to investigate the pilot programs which are underway and in which you believe you can support us is a pleasure for me to welcome and to work with you. The Commission’s report will advance Secretary Powell’s directive that the Department of State do better in connecting, communicating, collaborating and sharing knowledge internally with other agencies, with the American people and with an international audience. Now this task has always involved two aspects. The second, but the one which is most seductive, is technology. With the help of some large investments approaching $1 billion annually, and strong backing from Secretary Powell and others, we are building a very powerful information technology foundation. That task is far from finished. Over the next 2 years, we will completely revolutionize the archaic cable system, emerging with a centralized Web-based system for messaging, archiving, retrieving all of our written knowledge. That is known as the Smart Project. But the first and perhaps most difficult aspect of this change is the people side of the equation, opening up to fresh thought, learning how to best use the capabilities and the opportunities that technology provides. The Commission’s report is a valuable contribution to this effort.

If I might, Madam Chairman, I would like to take just a moment to speak with you about some of the activities of E-Diplomacy over the past year. With a staff of business practitioners and an active outreach program, we are working with embassies and offices within the Department of State to insure that their needs and knowledge-sharing goals shape our new IT information technology programs and to insure that our diplomatic mission is accomplished in an efficient, timely and resource-conscious environment. Over the last year, we have learned from others and explored new technology. We have undertaken initiatives that will change the way the Department of State conducts this business including reaching an international audience, and I would like to give you a few examples. We are enabling our missions abroad to set up home pages on the classified government network and push their reporting and analysis directly to a much wider U.S. Government audience. Let me make sure that you understand what I have just said. For years, we have operated with cables, which have been created by reporting officers at missions overseas and sent into the Department of State. The Department of State then took care of the necessary distribution. It was usually on a basis of need to know. What agencies needed to know this--who needed to know it. The Secretary has directed that we be much more aggressive in terms of getting the Department of State’s diplomatic messages including the classified diplomatic messages out to those who can use them, and the need to know is now the need to share.

And so we are in a situation where we have created Web pages where the missions will be putting on a daily basis their reporting and making it broadly available within the cleared U.S. Government community. We are developing a knowledge management, as I prefer to call it knowledge-sharing, strategy that will make better use of the Department’s greatest asset, the experience and the expertise of 43,000 employees at home and abroad. Since November, we have become partners in what is known as the Open Source Information System, a sensitive but unclassified level network that will allow us to connect and collaborate directly with over thirty other U.S. Government agencies, and we are vigorously pressing other agencies to join us on OSIS. The two together, the first one that I spoke about, the classified network known as SIPRANET, and the second one I spoke about, the unclassified network known as OSIS add up to us as networks of networks by which we can better communicate and collaborate and fulfill what has been an objective since the East Africa bombings in 1998, of seeing that all chiefs of mission have an ability to connect and collaborate with all elements of their mission in a routine and in crisis environment. Ambassador Holmes: As the Office of E-Diplomacy has proceeded with its work over the past year, we have been very aware that we not only have a mandate to represent the department’s business practitioners but also to learn from them. And I can think of no better example that our next speaker Tom Niblock. As the former Consulate General in Yekatrinburg, Tom pioneered the Virtual Presence Post, or as he called it at the beginning, the Virtual Consulate Concept. Tom told me in one moment of candor that he had decided he was going to do it on a .com system rather than a .gov system because he didn’t want to have to deal with the bureaucracy. So having established the Virtual Consulate as a .com, we are now busy trying to capture this and integrate it into the .gov world. And Tom, I want to thank you personally for what you have done to open our eyes to these new tools for New Diplomacy, and tools which I am confident offer so much promise, a great example of exploring new ways for the delivery of better, more accessible and more timely diplomacy. Tom. If I said to you, "Mr. Ambassador we are going to set up a consulate in Alexandria, Egypt--totally country team that." All the agencies would be thinking how could they achieve their goals and objectives in the consulate in Alexandria, Egypt. Now if that decision is made at the country team level, the Washington level, the regional level, everyone should be thinking similarly. How can we achieve our individual goals and objectives virtually and remotely? I will give you a practical example from Central Russia, Tyumen region. We knew we wanted to do more in Tyumen. Why? Well it’s obvious. Tyumen is huge in every respect. Seven percent of the world’s oil comes from Tyumen. Twenty-five percent of the world’s natural gas is produced in Tyumen. We will never ever have an American consulate there. There just isn’t enough activity right now. We are not going there. Is there an American interest there? You bet there is. The interest is huge. How many places in the world produce twenty-five percent of the world’s natural gas, seven percent of the world’s oil. What happens in Tyumen matters to the United States. We wanted to increase our footprint there. This was a way to do that. And there will be other places around the world. We want to have a bigger footprint in Zanzibar or Mombasa or Crete. This is the way to think about how you can do that.

We have succeeded in stringing our Internet system, open net plus links between our American Presence Posts and the Department. We have also worked closely with the Bureaus of Education and Cultural Affairs and International Information Programs on better communications with overseas alumni, improved context management software and more effective Public Diplomacy Web sites for our embassies worldwide. The Office of E-Diplomacy is currently working on the virtual dimensions of Under Secretary Harrison’s Culture Connect Program as well as a project to enhance the kind of activity of all international visitors with the Virtual Connect program. Both Culture Connect and Virtual Connect in our view are ideally suited to be incorporated into the Virtual Presence posts or Virtual Consulate project.

Madam Chairman, I will pause here for a moment to see if there are any questions from any of the Commissioners or from any in the audience before I introduce Tom Niblock.

Chairman Barrett: First I will take questions from Commissioners. I would like to ask a question in that you have gone from basketball to broadband, what do you see as the next big challenge?

Ambassador Holmes: I think probably anyone is slightly crazy to answer this with certainty, but in the experience I have had over the past year, it seems clear to me that the biggest challenge in all of this is the cultural change that is required within a rather unyielding environment. The Commissioners said that I had been in the Foreign Service for 35 years–actually it is a little bit longer than 35 years. I believe that we are fully capable of change. We fall into routines, which make us comfortable, and the ability for us to get new ideas from different quarters is sometimes resisted because it didn’t come from us, it didn’t come from me, or perhaps more persuasively it’s going to complicate life. It’s going to make my professional and my personal life more difficult.

So we have to engage in a process which is a long-term process of recruiting, of training, of frankly a fair amount of hand-holding to give people the confidence factor that what we are about now is not a continuation of what was long the litany of Foreign Service, do more with less. Rather, we are providing tools, which will enable them to do a more professional and personally more rewarding job. If we can’t do that, if we can’t convince in the process that we are providing them with tools and a changed way of doing business, then we are not going to succeed. That is one of the reasons I am excited about the idea, which came from the field – it came from Tom Niblock in Yekatrinburg about Virtual Presence Posts. It is an idea that comes from the need of the community. It is demonstrably easy to implement. It is one which requires explanation, and as we have gone into some outreach in the past couple of months about this, it is clear to us that we can’t simply say we have this capability, go and do it. We’ve got to actually sit down beside them and work with them, and with that sort of interconnection with them, I think that the challenge of change within our culture is achievable.

Commissioner Bagley: As a former Ambassador, you would also know how difficult it is for an Ambassador to coordinate, of course, all the other agencies under his or her domain, and I was just wondering how the classified system works. In other words, when you have cable traffic from DOD or from Commerce or your classified information coming, how to you determine – does that also work for DOD and Commerce, FBI and everything else that is under an Embassy?

Ambassador Holmes: We have responsibilities within the department for carrying on State Department systems. Those messages, which are from agencies, that fall under the Chief of Mission Command and Authority. If it is a different network that is used, then the agencies have the obligation to make sure that the Ambassador has access and indeed is informed about anything being communicated on another network. In many missions, there are personnel who lie outside of the Chief of Mission’s authority, who most commonly are of a military command, and there is a question of personal coordination. In some places it works beautifully and in others it doesn’t work quite so well. But the requirement of the President that a Chief of Mission shall know what is going on with all the people under his or her authority is one which is an objective still to be achieved in the practical sense because of some of the inhibitions to clear and clean con activity.

Even today we have missions where the Ambassador cannot connect all of her elements with the Embassy. They may be 2 miles down the road and they simply don’t have the Internet con activity. So this is a task that is yet to be achieved. And I mentioned to you the SIPRANET classified network, the OSIS unclassified network and a process which we are piloting now which is called Shortcut Routing whereby we pursue some locally based solutions for that kind of con activity. Personally, I believe that these three together will add up to a complete con activity for an Ambassador at all of our posts. And with that sort of con activity, it will knit the mission together in a way which, in some places, hasn’t yet been able to be achieved.

Chairman Barrett: Any other questions?

Commissioner Sophia Aguirre: Yes, you mentioned some of your challenges to be training, overcoming mindsets, etc., are there plans already in place or in the works to try to overcome these challenges in terms of personnel training and education?

Ambassador Holmes: A lot of work is underway. The Secretary directed that we undertake a very vigorous recruitment program so that the numbers, which had been declining in the Foreign Service through attrition throughout the 80’s and 90’s, have now been reversed. We have completed a second year and are now going into a third year of very active recruitment above attrition so that the net will be an increase of more than 900 Foreign Service Officers. The training of Foreign Service Officers is also being remarkably changed at Foreign Service Institute. It is a question not only of training new officers but also of engaging in leadership training of people who have been around as long as I have.

Secretary Powell directed that there be a strong dose of leadership preparation for the senior mid grade officers and that program began this year. So that it will no longer, we hope, be the case that we will be promoting people into leadership and management responsibilities who have had little exposure in their career to those challenges before. And that, as I said, is something that was begun this year. I forgot the numbers but several hundred of those people will have gone through that leadership training program over this next year. I believe that, in part, we are talking about a generational divide in some issues. Young people coming in are very comfortable with the technology that I have talked about. It is the old geysers like myself who have problems with it, and we simply have to make it clear to perhaps those who don’t come out of an Internet experience in their background that if you expect to get ahead in the Foreign Service, you’ve got to develop these sorts of skills, as well. It is not a question of technical skills; it is a question of career development, and that sort of a buy in from the officers and from the training institutions I think has taken hold in the department over the last 2 years.

Chairman Barrett: Great. Any further questions?

Commissioner Aguirre: If I may, one more question if nobody else has one. As far as leadership training, I assume this is Public Diplomacy training within the leadership?

Ambassador Holmes: The question is how much of the leadership training is Public Diplomacy. I can assure you that there is a component of Public Diplomacy. Does anybody know the details of the training?

Tom Niblock: I went through two of the leadership classes over the past year and there is a substantial Public Diplomacy component. I think that they are getting beyond this bifurcation whether it is either Public Diplomacy or not Public Diplomacy because, in fact, we all do Public Diplomacy so it is woven into just about all of the training – the public dimension.

Ambassador Holmes: Let me simply elaborate on that. In my experience in the field, it is no longer a challenge. It is well established that it is ingrained within missions that when you think of a project, you not only think of who the political or the economic contacts are and how do you reach them, what is the message, etc., but you think of the Public Diplomacy dimensions. It is simply part of the total analytical package that people undertake. The challenge, I think, for the integration of Public Diplomacy is more intense here in Washington, D.C. than it is in the field. In the field, I think it is essentially done. It is old news.

Madam Chairman, if I might then just move on to introduce Tom Niblock, if that is my place.

Chairman Barrett: It is, Ambassador Holmes, and we will move to the side.

Tom Niblock: Thank you Jim, Chairman Barrett, Commissioners, guests and friends. Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to talk to you today a little bit about some of the work that we have been doing in E-Diplomacy and as friends and collaborators with the Office of E-Diplomacy. Yes, we did go .com. Somebody told me there was money in .com and no money in .gov but the State Department is often a few years behind the curve and I haven’t seen the money yet.

I want to talk to you about a different idea, and I’d like to also thank my wife especially for tolerating me when I would wake up every morning and say, honey, I’ve got an idea. And she got real tired of hearing that. You asked about Public Diplomacy training. We all do Public Diplomacy. I was schooled as a political officer but you cannot live in this day and age overseas or in the United States without being involved directly in the Public Diplomacy dimension of our work. We do Public Diplomacy, and we’ve got to get beyond this thinking that Public Diplomacy is an entirely separate function. In fact, it is integral to everything we do in the State Department. If we don’t do Public Diplomacy well, we are going to fail, and I think the Secretary has made that clear, and everybody that we interact with makes that clear all the time. I’d like to talk to you. I have a few slides I will run through very quickly and then have some time for questions.

This is all about tools. It is all about giving us the tools we need to do what this age requires of us. We call this the Virtual Consulate. It is a kind of Virtual Presence Post. It is much more than a Web site, and I want to focus on that. It is an engagement strategy. This is not about setting up a Web page. This is about how you interact with people, where they live and how they live effectively in an entirely new era. This is the way we used to do Diplomacy. For hundreds of years, as long as the State system has existed, you had two countries, two empires. You had a court. You had embassaries, ambassadors, and missions. This was big and heavy, expensive. This is the way the United States has done Diplomacy for most of our history. We improved on this variant a little bit, the state-to-state model when we created consulates. Consulates let us focus in on a country or a region or an issue. So we created consulates to focus on a region of a country. That was a somewhat improved model. Now everything changes with the Internet because with the Internet people do not need to go through centralized systems in order to communicate with one another. Business doesn’t have to go through the Ministry of Trade. People don’t have to be hand-held by Cultural Ministries and Education Ministries. They deal with each other directly. The Internet has some problems. Everything you want is on the Internet but it’s a mess. It is hard to find it. Language and culture get in the way. So clearly there is a role for Diplomacy here. We call this Assisted Direct Diplomacy.

When you set up a Virtual Consulate, what you are attempting to do is to take citizens of one country and put them together with citizens of another country to solve some problem that each has identified. What the Diplomats do is fairly self-evident; bridge language and culture. We promote business; we defend America; we build alliances amongst the tasks Diplomacy does. And how do we do it? Thinking about how we do our work gets to the point Jim was making about a paradigm shift. The world has changed. We do business differently today. We do business by e-mail. We do business in meetings. We use video conferencing. We use cell phones all the time. Yes, sometimes we use snail mail; sometimes we use faxes. Most of the work that we do, at least much of the work that we do, is already done remotely. When you send e-mails to each other, even though you are sitting down the hall fifty meters away, you are operating remotely. I send e-mails to my secretary. I send e-mails to my subordinates. They send e-mails to me. We don’t deal face to face throughout this building. We are all e-mailing each other every day throughout our offices, throughout our lives. We are already working remotely. We need to internalize this. If you can effectively work remotely with people a few meters away, one floor away, elsewhere in the building, why can’t you do it across the world? Why can’t you do it across a few hundred miles? The question we have to ask ourselves is our traditional diplomatic apparatus structured in the most appropriate way for this new world, and I would suggest it is not.

The world has 350 very large cities, which I define as cities of over 1 million people, outside the United States. We are diplomatically represented in fewer than half of these. Now there was a time not too many decades ago when this probably didn’t matter so much because people who lived in those cities 1) weren’t connected to one another very well, and 2) if they wanted to engage with the United States or with Americans probably had to go through their capital anyway, through the bureaucratic apparatus, through the ministries. That is no longer the case. People are now connecting directly. These cities matter to us in a way that they did not matter in the past. Look at four countries China, India, Indonesia and Brazil. Three hundred and forty-four cities with more than half a million people. How many diplomatic establishments do we have? Sixteen. That’s 16 buildings, embassies, and consulates in those four countries. We are not covering the territory effectively. We cannot cover the territory effectively the way the world is changing in a globalized environment with this kind of structure. We are just limited. And we can’t build 344 consulates. It’s never going to happen. We may add three or four, we may add 20, but we are not going to meet the task operating on a traditional basis. What do we do in an embassy in our consulate? These are some of the tasks that we do, and it is important to focus on the task, the objective; consular services, commercial support, mutual understanding, representation, reporting. We protect national security in that we have to provide administrative support. We have to secure these facilities. We heard about the problem with the APP, the concept works but essentially it is a consulate and you have to protect the American staff that is there. So, there is a certain administrative overhead, security overhead that is going to go along with that.

Now the challenge is to say how much can we do virtually. How many of these things can be do remotely, and I would suggest, as has been stated, that we can do an awful lot of what we do remotely. We can do limited consular services. We can’t issue visas but we can provide forms, we can provide American Citizen Services information. We can do a lot of commercial support. We can put businessmen in touch with each other. We can provide information. We can do a great deal on mutual understanding. We can do representation. We can do reporting. We can protect American security, and we don’t have the administrative support. We don’t have the administrative overhead.

Now, is this the same as having a consulate? No, of course it’s not, but you can do this in places where you cannot build a consulate, where you will never have a full time presence. Okay, so you only get 50% of the impact. Choose a number, 40%, 60%, it doesn’t matter. You can do this in Mombasa. You can do this in Mogadishu; you can do this in Takreet or Bosra. You can do this in 50 cities in China. The cumulative impact of this approach can be substantial. And has been stated, the costs are rather small, but there are costs, of course less than building a building. Some of these new hire junior officers, the 1,200 or so the Secretary is bringing on board, fortunately most of them can set up a Web site by themselves and they are being sent all over the world. So we have now in-house in our embassies and consulates a lot of capability that we didn’t have a few years ago. Let’s say you have to contract it out. We spent $10,000 to set up five Virtual Consulates in Central Russia. Compare that to almost anything else we do in this business. Ten thousand dollars helped us set up the website, but it is more than just a website. And we will talk more about that.

Let’s talk about collective ownership. Not to denigrate any of our colleagues or how we have done business in the past, at most of our embassies and consulates when a Web site was established, somebody would turn to Public Diplomacy and say set up the Web site and run it. There would be a Web site set up for the embassy and then the embassy would go on and do all of its work and the Web site was an information vehicle. That’s not what we do here. What we do here is when the ambassador, when the consulate general, when Washington determines that we want to increase our footprint in a city or a region, and if the question is could we build a consulate there, would we like to have a consulate if resources were unlimited, if staffing was unlimited; if you can get to that point, then you start talking about doing it virtually. You can’t put a building there. What you have with the virtual template is everything that would be inside the building without the building, or a great deal of what would be inside the building without the building. Just as all programs and policies of the various agencies are represented in a physical embassy or physical consulate, we seek to represent them in a virtual environment. This is not a PD product. This is not something that is owned by the Public Diplomacy office. This is a mission-wide tool, and agencies at posts, sections at posts would be thinking how can I achieve my objectives and my goals with this template, within this framework.

Now virtual does not mean virtual. It doesn’t mean you don’t have a physical presence. We marry up the Website with travel, our normal contact work, face-to-face work and very intensive work with the local media. This is a crew from Consulate General Yekatrinburg going off to Tyumen in February, 32 degrees below zero. Mostly FSN’s, and this is key, mostly locally engaged staff. We developed the local staff potential because we operate in the unclassified world. This is about engagement. This is what our colleagues in former USIA have done for years. It is what the Peace Corps does. It is what USSA does. It is what the State Department has traditionally been lousy at because we operate in a secure and classified world. We create divides and walls. We have to break that down. If we are going to do effective diplomacy, we have to integrate with the local staff. We have to empower them. The Secretary talks about this all the time, empowering our staff, making full use of the resources we have out there. At 32 degrees below zero, mostly Russian staff, few Americans there. Mostly Russian staff going off to tell America’s story in Tyumen, Russia. In our district, why would we want to do this? Well, our consular district is rather large. It is the size of the United States East of the Mississippi, four American officers, five cities of more than a million people, a number of other large cities, and four of Russia’s super secret closed nuclear cities where they develop the nuclear weapons. We have an interest in these places.

Now how do you support a Virtual Consular network? There are several ways to do this, and they are really just built on things we have done in the past. In Central Russia, we have a network of Virtual Consulates and we support them really through a circuit writer system, something we call Consulate on the Road. We put the consular staff on a bus and we visit these places. We do our diplomacy. We do all of our activities. This is one way to do it. If you are in a large country or an important country like Iraq, China, Brazil, Indonesia, India, countries with lots of large and important cities, this variant might work for you. You could have dedicated circuit writers within the embassy staff. You could have ad hoc groups that come together. Basically, you manage them out of a central location, the embassy, the consulate, working with a network of sites. There is a single post model, a very flexible model.

If your embassy is in Nairobi and you say I don’t have a lot of big cities but I want to have a higher profile in Mombasa. Because of the terrorism issues, Mombasa is increasingly important to us but, frankly, it is not safe for us to put Americans down there. It is too expensive. We will never have a consulate in Mombasa but we want to raise our profile. We want to have a larger footprint. We want to engage more effectively with the population there. You can have a targeted Virtual Post. This might work in Zanzibar, in Crete; Cardith Wales is looking to do this, Alexandria, Egypt, Connor, and Nigeria. There are many other examples. So this doesn’t have to be in a big country and you certainly don’t have to think about having a network of ten or twenty or fifty Virtual Presence Posts. You can have one or two in a country. You don’t have to run it entirely out of the embassy or consulate. The face-to-face time can be a combination travel from the embassy and the consulate. It can be supported by staff in Washington. We have had Washington staff come out and travel with us to provide the face-to-face contact. You could support it out of a regional center or any combination thereof. Mogadishu – there is no government there in Somalia and yet we have an interest there. We send people in and out. You could set up a Virtual Embassy or a Virtual Mission in Mogadishu, staffed out of Nairobi and Washington jointly.

Let me talk a little bit about how we have traditionally visited cities. I know this is a little hard to read but the point won’t be difficult to understand. We would go visit a city. Great. This is a simplified model. Consulate General visits. Six months later, the Consulate General visits again. In between, dead space. This model I liken to when you arrive in a city, it’s like a long-lost relative coming to town. They have parades. They have representational events, flags are out, they love it, and then you leave. Nothing happens. And six months later you come back. It is probably a different Consulate General, and we just cycle through this process over and over again. This is the old way of doing things.

What we want to achieve is a contact continuum. And that’s essential to the success of this project. Notice you only visit twice a year because your staff hasn’t gotten larger and you can’t travel that much more. What you do in the interim is important. You are communicating by e-mail. You are working with the media. They are seeing your name. They are hearing about your programs. You are talking to them on the cell phone every day. You are doing digital videoconferences where that is appropriate. You are creating a continuum of contact that leaves the impression behind that we have a full time presence. You don’t see your colleagues every day but you are in contact with them all the time using these vehicles, these tools. We can do the same thing overseas. Now if you overlay – you know, okay this is the Consulate General then we have Public Diplomacy programs, we have a USAID staff, we have NASA, you begin to create this complex multi-layered contact continuum, and you can do all of that remotely. People travel occasionally as their work takes them to these cities. They do their programs but you weave it together into a fabric that creates this continuous contact. Why should we do this? Because we can. Because the world is now operating this way. Because our enemies operate this way. Our competitors operate this way. Business operates this way. We have to work this way. There is just no choice.

Now let’s take a very quick look at Virtual Consulate Tyumen. The State Department regrettably does not have an Internet connection in the briefing room but that’s all I will say on that point right now, so I will just give you a few images of Virtual Consulate Tyumen, Russia to explain how this works in practice. You have a searchable page. There are some Americans interested in every city in the world, not hundreds of thousands in every case, but there are some hundreds or thousands of Americans interested in Tyumen. If they want information on Tyumen, Russia, they are like to do what you and I already do. Go to Goggle. Go to Alta Vista. Punch in Tyumen and see what comes up. Well frankly, not a lot came up. Now if they do that, they will get Virtual Consulate of USA Tyumen, Russia. And that puts in one place a lot of organized information about Tyumen. This is a contact tool. It brings A together with B in a way that lets them transact their business – business, cultural, education – whatever it may be.

So the Start Page is directed at information for Americans or information for Russians (which is what that says in Russian). That’s because our two audiences have entirely different questions and needs. It is not like an embassy Web page that has a certain set of information and then a translation into the host government language, the same information. We understand that Americans are interested in how do I get a Visa for Russia, how do I get to Tyumen, how do I find a business partner, whereas the Russians are interested in an entirely different set of things – how do I get an American Visa, how do I find an American business partner. And these are some of the questions that they ask themselves.

Now the site is structured like this. You come to the Start Page; it asks if you are an American, Russian, Chinese or Turkish. If you are an American, it takes you to a list of questions – don’t worry that you can’t read these right now. It is just illustrative. The point is, you ask your questions, you get your answers and you make your connection. This is not like a casino floor or an L.L. Bean site where we try to get you in but never let you escape. The whole point of this product is to get you in, get you the information you need and move you out of there as quickly as possible to make the contact, make the connection, because contacts and connections are inherently good for the United States. We want to generate, stimulate contacts and connections. A typical Start Page for Americans will have six or eight buttons. It will talk about a welcome message. There will be information on business, thanks to the local government, information for students linked to the embassy in this case; warden message, consular services and something down there entitled God Bless America. How come God Bless America? Well, it just turns out that Irving Berlin was born in Tyumen. Okay? So the great father of American music was born in Tyumen, Russia. What we try to do with the Virtual Consulate site is create a relationship with the host community. In the case of Tyumen, it’s Irving Berlin. It may be something else some place else, but this is a branded Web site. About seventy percent of the material on this Web site is generic, which makes it easy to run a network of them. How do I get a visa does not change. How do I find a business partner doesn’t change. But the local links do change. So about 30% of the site is tailored to the local community. The graphics are local. Special links are local. Special cultural connections are local. Link to the American Corner, if there is one. Link to the American Business Community, which is there, will be provided. In Yekatrinburg, our model was three-part, Travel, Consulate on the Road, it could be circuit writers but you have to have a face-to-face component to make this work, and Media Outreach. We do a lot of media work. You have to do the media work and maximizing technology. Technology is the overlay.

It is not just a website. You add these things up and you get 21st century diplomacy. This is the way I think, in my view, the way we need to be doing business. Now this is the way our Consular District looked before. Remember, size of the U.S. east of the Mississippi with one lone little Consulate, four American sitting there trying to figure out what in the world do I do now. This is the way we look today. We have a network of five Virtual Consulates up and running. By the end of next year we will have as many as 15 in our district, old and new. Travel, media and technology. Thank you.

Chairman Barrett: Thank you, Tom, very much. We will reassemble here. There may be some questions from Commissioners.

Commissioner Pachios: I just want to say that in the 10 years that I have been on this Commission, we have seen some very dynamic changes in diplomacy, and I remember when the Commission came out with this report six or seven years ago on the New Diplomacy, which reflected the communications revolution. What you are talking about is the diplomatic revolution. I think it is going to change what we do so dynamically that it can be called a revolution, and I wish you well with it.

Tom Niblock: Thank you, Sir.

Chairman Barrett: There are other questions from Commissioners? If not, are there other questions or comments?

Question from audience: Once you set up Virtual Consulates, how do you drive traffic to them? How do you raise local awareness about their existence?

Tom Niblock: Use the local media primarily and you use your normal face-to-face contacts. This only works when it is within an engagement strategy, so I mean we still visit these cities. We still talk to people. Now we engage them by e-mail, by cell phones. I would say in the first three months when we started this program we started tracking sort of our media coverage, and in Central Russia we generated over two hundred positive media references to the United States through this engagement strategy. This was in the immediate run up to the war in Iraq, so you know there is an absolutely solid Public Diplomacy dimension to this. It is good for the United States. But through that, you use every vehicle at your disposal, your normal diplomatic tools to talk up the issue, to weave together. The Ambassador noted as the Chief of Mission trying to herd the cats in the embassy, the agencies and whatnot, trying to coordinate travel schedules, well this is much easier said than done. Even in our district we learned NASA came and did a program in Perm and we didn’t know about it. What you want to do is know about it. And this is the challenge for the country team, for the DCM, for the section chiefs, essentially to weave together everything we are doing in a target community to create a presence there so that our programs and visits there reinforce one another.

Chairman Barrett: Do we have another question?

Question from the audience: Those of us who have done a lot of DVC’s (digital video conferencing) generally come up to a point where we recognize that each tool has its different shape. I mean to a person with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail, and in the case of digital conference as opposed to face-to-face conferences, there is a value sometimes in getting a person to change venues to go on to another turf. If you want, for instance, an in-your-face, this is how bad things are message, usually the DVC is a good tool because general DVC’s tend to be a little more in-your-face because each side is on your own turf. If you want soft pedaling and a meeting of the minds, usually getting as person to fly is the best tool because there is something that goes on in their mind and they tend to be a little more polite and a little more sensitive to the local community. In your experience with this concept that is labeled Virtual Consulate but actually it is much broader than just the Web thing, what are the general dynamics of the shape of the tools you are using. I assume that your travel budget has to increase. What are some of the aspects of the shape of that tool?

Tom Niblock: Thank you for that question because that leads into something that I should have been more clear on. Setting up the Web page costs a little or little more depending upon what in-house capability you have. There are costs associated with a more intense travel program. This is an engagement strategy. We suggest that we can do a lot more with the resources that we already have. In fact, we launched this program with no additional resources. We programmed a little bit of money in-house and we begged, borrowed and stole funds from various pots. We can do a lot more with the resources we already have by reprogramming and better coordination. Everybody always says that, but it is also true. We can do even more with a slight increase in resources. You don’t need huge funds to do this.

What you need is commitment and coordination from the mission. This works if the Ambassador believes he wants to have a bigger footprint in Alexandria or he wants to do something in a given city and he wants to mobilize the agencies to raise their profile. This is an overlay and, if you will, a forced multiplier for the rest of the things that we would do in a region. It is not magic. It takes advantage of some magical properties of the Internet and word search technology. I started to say there are a few hundred or few thousand Americans interested in every major city around the world. What we don’t know is who they are, where they live or the specific nature of their interests. So the Internet and word search technology allows them to find us, and it allows us to reach out to two people in Idaho, four in New York and three in Florida who have an interest in Chelyabinsk Russia for reasons we would never know. In the past, we couldn’t dream of targeting our connections that way.

Question from the audience: I don’t know really now to phrase this question but you talked about raising mutual understanding and you talked specifically about Zanzibar and the terrorism. The ones that would be interested in terrorism don’t really go to the Internet, or a lot of it comes from the frustration of poverty, and that, and would not even have access to Internet facilities. Do you see where I am headed? How do you bridge that or how do you put the Virtual Consulate with reaching the other people?

Tom Niblock: Good questions. First, this is not a panacea, and I don’t want to presume that this sort of replaces diplomacy. This is an overlay on to everything else that we do. It has a role. It has a niche. I think it has growth potential and legs, but make no mistake this does not replace the hard work of diplomacy and everything else that we do. Having said that, I was DCM in DAR for a while and I spent a lot of time in Zanzibar. There are Internet cafes all over the place there. It is astounding. I went into one small shop and saw the traditional sitting of the scribe. There was an old man speaking his letter to his son. In the movies, it would be the scribe writing down the letter except in this case it was a kid at the Internet terminal sending the e-mail, and it was classic.

So I think we need to also understand that a lot of our target community is, in fact, getting connected to an increasing degree. There is utility here. The people that are very often expressing dissatisfaction with the United States are, in fact, educated. And they mobilize people who are not educated. But I think there is an audience there. Of the thirty million people in my Consular District in Central Russia, I was interested in maybe fifty thousand of them. And it just happens that those fifty thousand were those that were younger, getting connected in business and government. And this was targeting them, so while only five percent of the overall population was connected, that five percent was a much higher percentage of my target audience.

Chairman Barrett: A final question.

Question: I just wanted to add one little note. This is very exciting but I would strongly caution against the doing more with the current resources, let alone with less. I mean you are starting with a fully occupied people. I am the Director for AFPDPA (Public Diplomacy, Public Affairs for Africa). I could probably divert resources to set up Web sites, but there would be no way that we could sustain them or update them let alone do the extra travel. So it is exciting but I think you have to start out with the idea that it is not going to be for reprogramming, that it is going to be from the sort of bringing on new people that the Secretary is already committed to and then putting the kind of money that deserves to be in diplomacy of all kinds including this initiative.

Tom Niblock: Good comment. Thank you. And, fortunately, we are getting some new resources. The Secretary has brought us that. But it is also very closely linked to the priorities and the Ambassador priorities of the mission.

Chairman Barrett: Thank you very much. Terrific job, very exciting, a great new tool for Public Diplomacy! The Chair would entertain a motion to accept this report?

Commissioner Sophia Aguirre: Yes, I move that we accept this report.

Chairman Barrett: Thank you Commissioner Aguirre.

Commissioner Pachios: I second the motion.

Chairman Barrett: Thank you Commissioner Pachios. All those in favor indicate by saying aye. Opposed? Thank you very much Ambassador Holmes and Mr. Niblock.

Now I would like to introduce another topic. The topic is the sub-group of the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. It is a special pleasure to tell you that the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy with the Department’s approval has established a Sub-Committee on Public Diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim World. This new sub-committee has taken the lead in preparing a report for the Advisory Commission on new approaches, initiatives and program models to improve America’s Public Diplomacy results in the Arab and Muslim World. The Sub-Committee under the leadership of Ambassador Ed Djerejian aims to complete its report by fall. Once the report is completed, it will be submitted to the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy for our review and for our deliberation. Ambassador Djerejian’s leadership, his expertise and his experience in the Middle East are incomparable. Currently, Ambassador Djerejian is Director of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. He served in Lebanon, Morocco, France and Russia before becoming Ambassador to Syria. He was Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, and then Ambassador to Israel. Ambassador Djerejian is here to brief the Commission on the work of the Advisory Group on Public Diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim World. Please join me in welcoming Ambassador Djerejian.

Ambassador Djerejian: Well it is a privilege, and I am delighted to have the opportunity to brief the Commission and to brief you on our deliberations. We have just started our work, as you know, and the membership of the Advisory Group has been put together and it is composed of, I believe, an excellent mix of people with different competencies in the region who understand the Muslim World, the Arab World, who understand communications, public diplomacy and policy. So we have a very dynamic group. No one is fearful of expressing their opinions, and the dynamism of the group is superb. And we have, of course, Harold Pachios, who is a member of the Advisory Group and the Commission, so we are off and running. We are having a second set of meetings as we speak today in Washington.

I would like to inform the Advisory Commission that at the outset after I accepted the invitation to Chair this group and accept Secretary Powell’s invitation, I did have a meeting with Congressman Wolf, who is the author of the legislation, and we had an excellent meeting. I also had a briefing on the Hill, Congressman Hyde, and will be having meetings with people on the Senate side in order to obtain their views and assessments of the situation on Public Diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim World. And I have held top-level meetings in Washington at the White House with Dr. Condoleezza Rice, with Secretary Powell, with Secretary Armitage, with Paul Wolfowitz in the Department of Defense, with members of the NSC and extensive discussions with in the State Department. We are now in the process of bringing in people from the world of communications, from advertising, from think tanks, people who have done work on this issue. I have certainly read your report, which I think is an excellent report, 2002, which I think contains some excellent recommendations in terms of Public Diplomacy in general. We really can’t separate the bigger issue from the issue we are dealing with in the Arab and Muslim World, but certainly the focus is on this critical part of the world.

I used to call it the Arc of Crisis. The Arc of Crisis in the definition that Congress has given us, the Arab and Muslim World goes all the way from the Wiegers in China to the Cora Senegal in Nigeria and everything in between in terms of the Arab and Muslim World that is vast. The territory is vast. And the challenge is vast. One thing that I am very bolstered by in my initial discussions is the focus and attention of the Administration and Congress on this issue. They are truly eager to obtain our analysis and our recommendations. And that puts a real responsibility on us because we know we are going to be read. We know we are going to be heard. And therefore the responsibility to do something that will help the United States in the formulation and conduct of its Public Diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim World is a huge task and much needs to be done. But the good news is really there that whatever we come up with, and if it meets this high challenge, I think it will have an impact on policy formulation. So all the members of the Advisory Group are taking this with the utmost seriousness and a lot of hard work is being done. We have established some sub-committees on the Internet and had a conversation on the Internet on broadcasting, radio, TV. We are looking into what I call the macro substantive issues because Public Diplomacy is obviously the expression of policy and values.

I noted in your report, which is very important at the outset, the recognition of issues and values, and it is very important that Public Diplomacy deal with both issues and values. Of course, everyone’s attention has been riveted by these polls that have come out that show increasing anti-Americanism. The polls are very disturbing. At the same time we have seen that American values, American products, American science and technology have very high favorable ratings and was one of the statistics of the polls that really caught my attention in Iran in the 90’s, but then when you look at policies, the disagreements with policy are usually unfavorable ratings and equally high for the policies. So how do we deal with this? How do we deal with the concept, the fundamental content of our Public Diplomacy communications, the content of our policy, what are the instrumentalities to deliver the messages that we need to deliver to this very important and vast region of the world, who are the players, who are the best messengers, what are the best methodologies of getting it across, and obviously one thing that has impressed us at the beginning is the necessity of differentiation. You cannot simply draw a brush and deal with the Arab and Muslim World as if it is one adherent unity. It is very diverse. As I said, if you look at Asia, Indonesia, Nigeria and the Arab World, there has to be a policy of differentiation in our approach.

One thing we are hearing a great deal about is the need to listen. Public Diplomacy is not only conveying a view or a set of principles or explaining policies but it is also listening to your audiences and understanding the cultural context and the political context of the people you are dealing with. Therefore, the ability to listen is very important in the intelligent formulation of American Public Diplomacy policy. So I am very happy to report that we are off to a good start. The deliberations are not easy. The issues are very complex and difficult, but what we hope to be able to produce by the fall, this Congressionally mandated report, and what is important, also, is that we will be reporting to you and then through you to Congress and the Administration, and Congressman Wolf made it very clear to me that he really wanted our report to reach the highest levels of the Administration. So we have support from everybody. I can also report to you that the cooperation we are getting from the Administration is outstanding, and the cooperation we are getting in the private sector is outstanding. A lot of people are interested in this issue because it is so important. And so with that brief summary, I would be open to any questions the Commissioners or the audience may have.

Chairman Barrett: Very good. Are there any questions from the Commissioners? We have a lot to do. It is a very important topic. I know your sub-group members are meeting here in the building. We thank you for taking time to come away from that and to join us, and you are off to a great start with a lot more to do.

Ambassador Djerejian: Thank you very much. Thank you for your support.

Chairman Barrett: That concludes the business to come before this meeting. We will stand for any questions that you might have. Are there any questions from the audience? Yes, Sir.

Question: This question is for Ambassador Niblock. You mentioned that the Web sites of Virtual Consulate would be accessible, a part of it for American citizens and a part of it for locals. How does that get around Smith-Mundt restrictions. Would that not pose a problem in this situation?

Tom Niblock: Frankly, I am not the expert on that subject except that it is not PD money, so I think probably we launched this without using appropriated funds for Public Diplomacy. I suppose it avoids it in that manner. Nobody gave us any money.

Chairman Barrett: It is very innovative and informative to learn of your funding. I think we can count a favorable response for people who can do things with very little money. Thank you all very much.