Minutes of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy February 2003 Official Meeting
Harold Pachios, Chairman
Stuart Holliday, Coordinator, IIP
Harold Pachios: Thank you all for coming today to this special meeting of the U.S. Advisory Commission Meeting on Public Diplomacy. We are always fond of saying to our guests that some of us who have been on this commission prior to 2001 are always amazed at the enormous attention focused on public diplomacy these days – properly focused on public diplomacy. The core of what we do in reaching out with messages to people around the world is in the State Department’s International Information Programs, known as IIP.
We are especially pleased today to have a report from Mr. [Stuart] Holliday, who is the Coordinator of International Information Programs in the United States Government and, specifically, here at State. The Coordinator has the rank of Assistant Secretary and is responsible for all of the programs that use various media to reach out to people around the world with our message. So, it involves coordination of message; it involves utilizing new media to deliver the message.
I would say in the 55 years that the U.S. Government has been actively engaged in this organized fashion through USIA (U.S. Information Agency) and now consolidated in the State Department, I think Stuart’s stewardship of this area of U.S. Government outreach to the world is the most significant in our history of doing this. This is a briefing for us and for all of you. This is a public meeting. If Stuart has time, there may be questions but he has to leave before 3, so we will be cutting it close. I think this will give a good overview for people who ask “what is the United States Government doing in terms of reaching out with messages, aside from broadcasting, aside from the BBC and the Voice of America.”
This will be the best possible overview. Stuart, thank you very much for coming. We appreciate it. And let me just say before we begin, to my far left is Commissioner Maria Elena Torano from the State of Florida; to Stuart’s left is Commissioner Charles Dolan from the State of Virginia. The way we are going to work this is that they are going to interrupt Stuart, if you don’t mind. These two Commissioners can interrupt and ask questions as we go along, and then we may have time for questions from other people here at the end, depending upon when we finish.
Mr. Holliday: Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, I would like to express my appreciation at your invitation. It is truly an honor to speak to your group. It is absolutely a vital mission. I know the President has announced his intention to appoint some new commissioners in the last couple of days. I think the fact the Commission is moving forward in its critical mission is an indication of the confidence the President has in the work that you all have done and the hope that it will be strengthened in its ability to support us and advise us in the Executive Branch on how we can improve our dialogue and our perception of the United States and, generally, our mutual understanding with other countries.
Let me just comment for a moment about where IIP sits in the spectrum of the State Department’s Public Diplomacy arena. IIP is one of three bureaus within “our family” under Undersecretary for Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy Charlotte Beers. We work very closely with our two sister bureaus and the regional bureaus and the functional bureaus in the State Department. The two bureaus being the Department of Public Affairs and the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs under Assistant Secretaries Boucher and Harrison.
We have some of our staff here today. I would like to introduce some of our folks. Would any of the IIP staff raise your hands - I know my Principal Deputy Joe Johnson is here, Deputy Assistant Secretary Judy Siegel and others – and introduce yourselves starting with TJ.
T. Allen: I’m T. J. Allen. I handle the Washington File for IIP.
Alicia Langley: Alicia Langley,White House correspondent with the Washington File.
We have about 300 people who are extraordinarily talented communicators. It is a very diverse group. We have people who specialize in what people call the softer tools of diplomacy that deal with writers, playwrights and the cultural side of the American landscape. And, we also have, if you move across the spectrum from the civil service to the foreign service and political appointees, we also have some people who come from the world of countering disinformation, working to consolidate civil society structures in strife-torn regions, people with experiences in places like Kuwait post-’91, Kosovo and others. It is a very eclectic and talented group of people.
We are organized essentially to mirror the Department of State. We have three principal areas: the Geographic Liaison area that Jim Bullock heads up. Judy heads up the Thematic area (Office of Thematic Programs). We have a Technology group, (Office of Technology Services), which really is the backbone of figuring out how we actually get this information to, as Edward R. Murrow said, "The last three feet of our audience." We also have an important function in our Strategic Communications Office, which functions as the secretariat for the new Policy Coordination Committee (PCC) that Undersecretary Beers chairs along with the National Security Council.
I know one of the recommendations from your previous report was improved coordination. I can assure you that is taking place, not only with the new office of Global Communications in the White House, but also interagency, particularly between the State Department, the Defense Department, the broadcasters and the Agency for International Development (USAID).
This new PCC is a vital and active group that has formed sub-PCCs (a number of subcommittees, including Afghanistan and Iraq) to actually move action items forward throughout the interagency. The new subcommittee called New Directions is charged with taking all the various ideas that have been put forth to improve our ability to understand audiences; our ability to figure out which tools are most effective in reaching the proper local context of a society; the ability to measure our results; the ability to have a coordinated message that would rise above the clutter.
When I say clutter, there are wonderful messages that we have, – it is just that we have so many that in the exploding information environment we tend to lose a little bit of the focus on what we call the meta message – who we are, what we are about, what our values are and the rest. So this is one very important and new vital aspect of the work that IIP is doing.
Let me just say, before I talk about some of the new things that IIP is doing, talk about some of the bread and butter, which in a family it is always the dutiful and good student that does not get the attention and praise at the end of the day – the Washington File, which has been going out since about 1930-something (in Morse code). As a matter of fact, when I was a kid accompanying my father at American embassies overseas, I would rush in and pull it off to get the football scores. It was really the link in a pre-Internet and pre-cable TV to the outside world.
Well, our people do that on a daily basis. We also have our Speaker Specialist Program, which sends out well over a thousand speakers all around the world on a range of issues. Some of you perhaps have traveled under those auspices. We are always looking for new, persuasive and good speakers to go out for us. We have the digital video conference portfolio here at the State Department, not for the everyday ongoing to-and-fro about various – shall we say - the business of diplomacy – but in particular cases where we want to draw key regions together and focus attention on one issue. For instance, Ken Pollock has been doing a number of DVCs ( Digital Video Conferences) for us on Iraq. As a former Clinton administration official who has written an authoritative book on Iraq, he has been very good to us in doing a lot of these with European capitals and the like.
We also have our electronic and web presence. I think this is very much of a growth area for us. The U.S. Info website is not only a place where you can come and get the latest U.S. Government-wide – it is the only site where you can get the entire U.S. Government. Frequently, we think in the State Department we can control the American foreign policy message. We realize, of course, that audiences are getting messages from all around the Government and, indeed, all around the private sector and entertainment industry, etc.
We try to represent the full spectrum of communication. This site is also a place where an aspiring student in China could come and learn or understand a little bit more about some of the basic fundamental founding documents of the United States, who we are as a people and see the diversity and texture of our society. Importantly, the Internet is also, for us, an offensive tool. We don’t view it simply as a passive, “to be viewed if you feel like it” kind of thing.
We view the Internet as a way of providing mini-publishing houses around the world in our embassies so they can download information from the Internet – whether it is the network of terrorism: making the case that the Taliban and Al-Quaeda were connected at a time when people said, “Prove it to us. There is no connection. We don’t understand the connection.”; to an electronic journal about the importance of a free and responsible media.
So the Internet for us really is not an end in and of itself. It is a medium we believe can be used not only for print products but can be used as a tool for radio announcers and television newscasters to get content and get information. We are also exploring new ways of using the Internet – not new to the world but new to the State Department – but using moderated discussions. We frequently hear that the Americans are sort of one-way communicators. By the way, I am going to try to not be a one-way communicator today and I would like to spend a lot of time on questions and answers, if we could. The moderated discussion is where a group of people that are influential opinion leaders in certain countries are gathered together by our embassy to interact with key policymakers or key officials from the United States. This is, again, an opportunity for a two-way dialogue in the public diplomacy area.
I’d like to comment for a moment about another new area that IIP has put together, and that is something called our Fusion Team. Frequently, the United States Government across the board is on a daily basis engaged in developing products for foreign audiences. There are many talented people working on these products on any given day. What there has not been in the past is a clearinghouse in which these products can be essentially reviewed for the purpose of understanding who is the appropriate audience for this at this time.
Does this fit with the President’s overall vision for what the United States is emphasizing at this time? Do we have the ability to deliver this piece of communication via the appropriate channel, asking the tough questions that you all as business people, particularly the Commissioners who have businesses, have to ask on a daily basis in terms of your core functions?
Are we getting the message to the right audience at the right time? This is an interagency operation. We have invited representatives from any government agency that wishes to participate to come together in this Fusion Team and work with us so that we can help synchronize the coordination and dissemination of these products. Let me be clear that the Office of Global Communications at the White House has the overall responsibility within our community of telling us what the President’s overall issues, message and concerns are. Obviously, as operational people we take that guidance from Tucker and the rest of the folks at the White House and use it and factor it into the development of our products.
There was a question before we came about what role IIP has played in the War on Terrorism. There are really two ways of looking at that. There are some direct activities that IIP has undertaken and there are some indirect ones.
The direct activities, of course– beginning with the Network of Terror, which begins with the premise that you must define the threat, identify the individuals who perpetrated this hideous crime and hold them to account – this received the largest audience, I think, of any print publication that the State Department has ever produced, from running in the Arabic version of Newsweek, Panorama in Italy, and reprinted entirely in a number of different countries.
Moving from that point to the daily clarification of what the United States is doing and what our intentions are: you remember in the first days of the Afghanistan conflict when the Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan was capturing the cameras and the ink pads of the journals from around the world? Well, much of what this individual was saying were patent lies. There was no factual basis, but in our modern communications environment, there really is not a way instantly to determine, to deliberate, to rebut or to react. So, again, working with the White House and working with the rest of our colleagues in this arena we were able to put together a team that could counter factually incorrect stories.
The vestiges that remain in that we monitor the media around the world for stories that we view as incorrect. The Internet is a fascinating and interesting place. It is very hard to keep track of everything that is on there, but one of the things that one of our staffers who monitors the Internet in the Islamic world identified was essentially a new site that would be directed at the persecution of Muslims in America. This is a counter to the Muslim Life in America site that was developed by IIP. We are engaged in an environment where we do not have a monopoly on the tools that we use for communication.
We see things that are emerging and [we are] trying to figure out strategies to address them before they become lore – like the allegation that the Jewish community departed the World Trade Center before the attacks and were not present at the attacks – like some kind of conspiracy theory. We see these things on the Internet all the time.
I think the more indirect ways of getting to the heart of the counterterrorism activities of the U.S. Government have to do with the fact that, for the first time in our history, we approached the counterterrorism people who are making and developing the counterterrorism policy in the State Department and in the White House. We got in at a fairly early level to work with them on a public diplomacy strategy that is associated with that.
For example, on the notion of weapons of mass destruction: I was in the White House on 9/11 and it was very real to me. Some of you were probably in New York with your families, etc. and it was a very real experience. For many, particularly in Europe, there were several reactions. You could see, “Well we have been living with these types of things for a long time.” Or, you might also hear, “Well, that 9/11 was not as impacting in our arena because it happened in the United States.” Fair enough. Part of our talking about what happened to us, and why we reacted the way we did, and what we are doing is very important to communicate on a constant basis.
In our effort to counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and fight terrorism, we have to explain the context of what it means to us. I think Lord Robertson, who was here a couple of days ago, was being interviewed by an American journalist, probably Fox, and he said, “Haven’t we made the case?” This was on Iraq. And Lord Robertson said, “Yes, you made the case but that was yesterday. You need to make the case today and you need to make the case tomorrow, and you need to keep making the case.”
So, we recognize every day that in a variety of different ways we must get out there with the message. Today was an example. This morning, I was at the Foreign Press Center with Iraqi dissidents who had personally lived through the brutality of Saddam Hussein. We had, either in person or via BBC, people whose families had been shot; whose families had been raped; who had been the victims of torture; who had been the victims of political oppression by a variety of means. Those voices -- called “Iraq’s Voices for Freedom” -- have not been the predominant voices on this issue over the last several weeks. We have seen groups of people who are exercising their right to free speech on the issue. But, the fundamental points are, “What do the Iraqi’s think? What do the people of Iraq affected by this regime think?” That is very important, so we worked with the Iraqis to capture some of their personal accounts and get them into print and get them into television and on the Internet.
Mr. Pachios: Can I stop your story?
Mr. Holliday: Yes, sure.
Mr. Pachios: So you want to get that out. Let me take these two or three steps just so we can understand it. There are regular meetings where you decide what is the coordinated message of the United States Government. And then what you do is implement it. In other words, your operation -- and others in the government -- implement this. So, you had these Iraqi dissidents. What is the government strategy for getting that out?
Mr. Holliday: In this case, it was very easy. They came forward and felt so strongly about this issue.
Mr. Pachios: If you are in the Middle East, do you see it on television?
Mr. Holliday: Yes, this was this morning. We had a press conference for foreign journalists – and it was covered by the Middle East Broadcasting NBC – and obviously viewed throughout the Arab world. I was there with my colleague from NEA (Department of State, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs), Jim Loroco, who is very knowledgeable about the nuts and bolts of the humanitarian side of this issue. Our embassies will take this product – and by the way, this is available for anybody who is interested; a print version of which you can download from the Web. It is up to our embassies to figure out the most appropriate way of using it. Some may invite one of the Iraqi dissidents to come and speak to a university group or to someone in their country, and they may use this as a catalyst to make that happen. Others will chose to do digital video conferences with some of these individuals so they can put together groups who can hear first hand about the atrocities of the regime. We also would hope that the interviews themselves were taped -- just raw footage of people simply talking about things. This isn’t Hollywood or Madison Avenue. This is not something that is contrived. It is simply capturing people in an unscripted manner talking about things. We, through our American Embassy Television Network, offer that to posts and we expect and hope that they will offer them up for local placement.
Mr. Pachios: Do you know whether that happens – that you put it out from here to the embassies and that, in fact, PAOs, (Public Affairs Officers) and embassies are able to get it on television?
Mr. Holliday: It does happen. It is hard, but it does happen in some places more than others. As I understand it, in Russia and Eastern Europe, our video content on a regular basis is actually downloaded from AETN (American Embassy Television Network) and used for evening newscasts for the purposes of talking about particular issues.
In the Middle East, it is tough. What we have to do in environments where there is state-controlled media or close-to-state-controlled media is essentially get on the air, and make sure our principals and leaders are getting into and on the television in these countries. When Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia came last summer to Crawford, Texas, I think it was the first time that the Foreign Press Center went into a mobile fashion. They went down to Crawford and set up, and invited Arab journalists to come with their TV cameras, whether it was Secretary Powell or [inaudible] to have a steady flow of content because at the foundation, our President, our Cabinet and our leadership across the board are very, very important spokespeople for what we are about.
Mr. Pachios: I would say it is the most important one that people pay most attention to.
Mr. Holliday: Are there any other questions on that issue?
Mr. Pachios: Yes, I just have one more – actually, it is on something else you said that I wanted to catch up with. On the Internet, does the State Department monitor these web sites and sites that are putting out misinformation and disinformation about American policy and activities so that you know what is happening around the world in these web sites?
Mr. Holliday: We do, and we are not the only ones who are monitoring web sites. So the real question in our job comes in not so much at the tracking side, but it is primarily in making sure that the facts of the issue are gathered together and put out in the right environment. One of the examples would be a film that was made that alleged atrocities at Mazar-i-Sharif in Afghanistan. This was kind of being circulated around. Somebody found out about it and we checked with the Pentagon; went through a list of questions because Secretary Powell is a stickler for the facts, the open truth being our best asset.
This is something that is very important to emphasize – that what we are about is simply reflecting the facts that are not getting out or are not properly being captured. So, in that case, we were able to find out that this was not an inaccurate story. We were able to find out what the specifics were and make sure that our ambassadors, field operatives and staff in our embassies were able to rebut it.
Let me just make some concluding remarks and then I’d like to take your questions. This business is really hard. Make no mistake. You have been seeing it from the outside in. This is a very challenging environment we are in. I think the historical analogy that I like to look at in terms of the situation we are in is that in the 40’s and 50’s, institutions were created to address international public opinion; what foreign publics thought about America and what our relationships were in foreign policy.
We have the institutions today. What we need to do, with your help, is improve the capabilities of those institutions and the coordination of those institutions. I think we are out of the planning phase and into the action phase because we must regain the initiative that a generation ago we took as something that was a given; that while there were a wide variety of views about American policy in specific areas and disputes over different issues, people had a positive view of the American people. People fundamentally knew that when America was engaged in the world, it did not seek land. America does not seek to dominate other people. It seeks simply to establish stability and security in the environment. Post 9/11 it is a very real issue and public opinion is a National Security issue. Another thing I will add is that the State Department this year, for the first time, put public diplomacy out of the readiness category and into its four strategic goals, recognizing its place along side of the political, economic and other areas for the purposes of looking at the State Department’s mission. This is in work, it is in development, and I think it will be part of the strategy the State Department issues in the next planning cycle.
I would be happy to take any questions.
Mr. Pachios: I like to be a little bit provocative, so it seems to me that it is very, very hard to make a dent in world opinion when world opinion seems to be dominating. The story is world opinion – that’s the story today. It is very hard to make a dent in it. We should continue to do this. We have been doing many of these things for years but some digital video conferencing helps. The Web sites help. The speaker specialists – our observation was, incidentally, that there is not enough money to do a lot of speakers.
It seems to me the real impact on world public opinion are the words used by Secretary Powell, the President, Secretary Rumsfeld and how much the public diplomacy people in this department and the Office of Global Communications are thinking about our strategy on world opinion. It is as important as the military strategy now.
Mr. Holliday: Good question. First: message. The message of the United States government and the American people is not getting through, and the question is, what is that message? What do people aspire to? President Reagan was very effective during the Cold War because he was essentially tapping into the existing aspirations of people. We must do the same. We must let people aspire to prosperity, economic security, taking care of their families, stability, and peace. America is about those things. Most Americans think America is about those things.
Most internationalists do not think America is about those things. That is the critical gap. We are working very hard and in a very constructive way with the White House and others to make sure that we move forward with the message overall throughout the various government agencies that, as Secretary Powell said recently in Davos, is one of trust and hope.
We must rebuild trust so that people trust the United States and understand that we stand for hope for them. As part of that, one of the things we are doing is viewing what the United States does for people in the world, not simply as a narrow function of what the government does but looking at the extraordinary generosity and philanthropy and dedication of the American people across the spectrum and what they are doing for people around the world -- whether it is the farming family in Iowa that adopts Honduran kids or whether it is Bill Gates putting a huge fund together to fight AIDS.
Whatever it is, there is a lot going on. So the answer to your question is that we need to do more in a more focused and effective manner to make sure that message is getting through. As far as the Presidency is concerned, the Presidency is a very powerful bully pulpit. One of the reasons the Office of Global Communications was created was not simply to look outside those 18 acres at the White House and focus on getting the message out. It was also to look inside and look at what administration officials are saying, how the President is communicating, and bring that perspective back into the White House.
I have worked for the President for six years now in Texas and here, and let me tell you that he is a very clear and focused communicator. Obviously, his audience is primarily the American people – the protection of the American people. In creating this office, he recognized that we need to understand and have the feedback from our partners and allies around the world so that we can capture some of those feelings and sentiments, not to change policy as a result of a poll here or there, but to understand and factor them into our communications.
Charles Dolan: First, I really appreciate your coming to spend time with us today. The things you talked about, and I realize it is a work in progress, the improved coordination, measurement and the problem with clutter. It seems to me – and someone will write his or her Ph.D. thesis on this some day – but something happened after Afghanistan. I think the administration and the U.S. government did a brilliant job of coalescing American opinion and the opinion of our allies when that happened. But after that, I think we had the problem of different messengers giving different messages out there, which I think confused both the American people about what it was about and certainly the allies.
I think the stuff you are talking about, both the White House Ops (Operations) and Global Communications stuff you are doing may sort of bring this together because we are in a different phase now and it is a whole different operation. But public diplomacy is about getting support for U.S. foreign policy from foreign publics so their leaders can feel comfortable about supporting us. And when you look at that research poll that came out, it is a lot of fun to bash France. We actually went up one point in France from 2000 to 2002 in terms of favorability. We went down by 17 in Germany and what is real frightening, down 8 in Great Britain, our closest ally. So, something has gone wrong here.
Mr. Holliday: Let me just comment on that for a second. First of all, on the tactical side, the coordination issues. There is a call every morning at 9:30 between all the actors in the public diplomacy arena. This is new and was initiated as a result of the fact that we recognized that there were many messages, various strands of ideas moving around in different directions, so there is deep recognition on this issue.
As far as the tempo and the timing of how the public has reacted to post Afghanistan, after an Afghanistan-type of situation, collectively, we all wanted to breathe a sigh of relief. Boy, that was hard and now we can sort of get back to what we were doing before. What the President and others have recognized is that we cannot get back to normalcy just by wishing so. We weren’t expecting the 9/11 attacks, and when they happened there were signs. We must understand that what we are trying to do and how we are communicating is in order to get a true return to normalcy over the course of several years in fighting a war on terrorism, insuring that the American people and our allies are safe, and I think wrapping up the world in a humble way in considering that what we are doing is not simply for the United States but recognizing that we need them and they are not only vital partners and vital friends -- essential in an interconnected environment. We are in an interconnected security environment and now we are in an interconnected information environment. We have to recognize that and align ourselves.
Mr. Pachios: I know you didn’t come down here looking for suggestions – yes, you probably did because you know how smart we are. You know, you talked about the need to get the message out that we don’t seek land; that we don’t seek to dominate other people. There may be stories out there that we’re not thrusting to the forefront. It seems to me that one story has dominated everything and that, again, I think is world public opinion. You read it every day in the newspaper. We saw one this morning about rising stars in the Arab world who have spent a lot of time in the United States that were our validators and are now on the other side.
So, you talk about seeking land and dominating people. We recently had a case in this country in Afghanistan where we sought to have regime change and we did. There are American soldiers there, and I recall and I think I am accurate when I say I recall a year ago and certainly in the middle of the war in Afghanistan, stories about humanitarian aid and what we were gearing up to do in Afghanistan to bring some water, by having an international force of soldiers there to bring water in some places. That has happened in Kabul but not in other places because it is too difficult all over the country, but also enormous humanitarian aid. I have not, and I read a lot of papers, I can’t recall reading a story in the last year about the U.S. humanitarian effort in a country where it launched an attack a year and a half ago.
Mr. Holliday: Let me just comment on that in a couple ways. First of all, the notion is one that needs to be looked at very carefully. The Germans are taking over the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan) as we speak. This is a coalition of a wonderful group of countries. The Saudis, Japanese and the Americans have come together to build the roads. Schools are opening up. Little kids can come to school. All of these stories, as you say, may not be resonating, and we need to focus more attention here. We do have an initiative called Rebuilding Afghanistan, recognizing that many people will look to see how the lives of everyday Afghans improve as a result of this action.
The other thing I might take issue with is that this was a country. In fact, what I believe what we were doing in a sense was de-hijacking what was a regime in the Taliban that was actually a Kabul that was controlling the Afghan people. I think you can see President Karzai today testifying up on the Hill and just listen to his words about the improvement in the lives of Afghans.
Mr. Pachios: I think that is the story, Stuart. We are not disagreeing with you. I think the story is, if there is a lot of humanitarian aid, if roads are being built and schools are being rebuilt, that is the story. If President Karzai says, as we know he does, “Don’t leave, stay, I am depending upon you”, that is the story.
We went to visit the people at AID maybe six or seven months ago to find out how they are getting the story out, because you can read today where the perception is that United States foreign policy is all bad; it doesn’t do anybody any good except the United States; and there is no story about the roads and schools in Afghanistan that are being built or that are being built all over the world. You don’t read about it. So I think we somehow have not gotten the attention of the press focused on anything other than Iraq and the world of opinion regarding it. So fix that, would you?
Commissioner Marie Elena Torano: I think it is impossible to pay attention to any of the stories if you move it from the war. I think what you are talking about – validating what we are doing, will continue to do in Afghanistan until they tell us to leave – would be very applicable and timely after the war. People may only pay minute attention to it before then. You mention that Lord Robertson says you have to make the message every day. I believe that President Bush and Secretary Powell are making the case every day about the need to change things in Iraq. That is their message. Any message by any other U.S. government authority will not go anywhere because the message is so intense. People are now, – after listening to that message for eight months in one degree or another – don’t have room for anything else. They are dealing with the anxiety and the search for what is happening.
At breakfast this morning, we were chatting about how this process has gone on – just to build a coalition and make sure that we had the blessing of the United Nations – and then we see world public opinion and demonstrations against us. I it would have been better to go in and out; get this clean and over with and move right along. Then give all the tools for rebuilding Iraq as need be.
Mr. Holliday: That is really more of a diplomatic question. The President went to the United Nations and asked for their support that led to the inspection process resuming. There is a course of action because, again, there are a lot of people criticizing the United States for not going to the United Nations prior to. It was very important to do so. We would like the United Nations to work effectively and for the Security Council to work effectively. So in that context, I will leave that to those folks up at the higher pay grade than myself to determine that strategy.
Mr. Pachios: Would people who have questions identify yourself and your affiliation?
John Swallow: I am basically a citizen, although I and another gentleman founded a group called [inaudible] River campaign to encourage peaceful democratic traditions. Since January 20, President Bush said the peaceful transfer of authority is [inaudible] very common in our country. Two Presidents were sworn in after two tremendously tumultuous transitions: President Arroyo in the Philippines and President Bush. As a result, the United Nations wants an international decade for culture of peace and non-violence all over the world: February 25 in Manila, not sending in UN troops because they had a civil war something like they may be the next Bosnia. The second date was May 23, when this stamp was issued. The Veterans of Foreign Affairs agreed that, consistent with the Powell doctrine, to use absolutely every possible tool of international diplomacy to avoid the use of force, to avoid putting soldiers in harms way away from home– creating more veterans to take care of in their old age – and that this UN international agency called Transnational, launched by the Nobel Laureates Foundation, should be a central moral tenant of: a) our war on terrorism and; b) our use of force.
Mr. Holliday: Let me comment on that very briefly. I am a veteran myself, and [understand] the need to avoid conflict and the costs – and I can assure you Secretary Powell and Deputy Secretary Armitage do, as well. Tony Principi is a good man at the Veterans Affairs Office, also a former Navy officer, as well. The point about UNESCO’s (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) report is that the United States chose this year to rejoin UNESCO. If you look at what the United States is doing with UNESCO, the Millennium Challenge Account, the Middle East Partnership Initiative focusing on education, children, health care, democratization, applying and increasing foreign assistance across the board as a result of the recognition that we need to be there for kids, for women and for people struggling to improve their lives. This is a very, very central and important part of the foreign policy of this country.
John Swallow: But, it is not that central or yesterday our President would have made a follow up speech “ich bein a Berliner” at the Edsa Shrine in the Philippines and the Iron Lady of Asia for Peace – getting the world’s attention on other democracies other than ours – highlighting peaceful democratic positions going back a 100 years in a former colony and we missed the boat. When I finished this report by 9/11, I was told later Secretary Reyes of the Philippines would have told Secretary Rumsfeld about it.
Mr. Holliday: You can leave that paper for us and I would be very interested in…
John Swallow: We have to talk about this. This is pretty critical of the Philippine government, since I worked at the Embassy as a volunteer for 5 years.
Mr. Pachios: That is helpful, and we will take a look at that. A couple of other questions, Stuart. Is your shop producing information for U.S. government web sites? Do you create the content for the web sites?
Mr. Holliday: We do not do content for domestic U.S. For PD (Public Diplomacy)? Yes, that is our bread and butter. I would encourage all of you to go to usinfo.state.gov. The way it is organized will provide you, for example, not only a snapshot at what is happening throughout the government, whether it is Congress, the Administration, the Executive Branch, etc., but also resources on key issues. The “Rebuilding Afghanistan: site is there, publications like “Writers on America” is there, which is an interesting compilation that received a lot of attention of writers that came forward and wrote about what it was like to be an American writer. It is a wealth of information. My objective, and I could use your assistance here, is how we could get more visibility, attention and eyeballs on that web site, what we could do to enhance the flow of information, because I will tell you we have the content; it is a question of, as you say, making sure it gets out there to audiences. So, we could really use your help in thinking that through.
Mr. Pachios: I think about all of the American politicians now. Whenever they make a speech, make any public appearance or go on TV, they can’t wait to say at the end, “and you can find out more my position by looking at www.bushforpresident.org and they constantly do that. I think that our people around the world, our diplomats and frankly, senior officials of the administration should be selling that web site. We do a lot of things domestically as politicians to influence public opinion that we haven’t quite gotten ourselves to do to influence foreign opinion.
We are the world’s great experts as politicians and political leaders in effecting public opinion. There is no country in the world as sophisticated as the politicians in the United States. And, we don’t do the same things when we try to reach and communicate with foreign audiences.
Mr. Holliday: It is interesting. I was in Oman once and was talking to a person in a village about American political campaigning. As you know, politics is our bread and butter and we have all these techniques we use, and it was very interesting to see the reaction to the kind of communication that goes on with our political environment and how that works in some places and doesn’t work in other places. The important thing is that we need to apply all of our resources to figuring out what the most effective way of communicating is. That is a very critical priority.
Mr. Pachios: Do we have any way of knowing who hits that website?
Mr. Holliday: There are two things: First of all, we know what numbers of people hit that web site, and we have had a 40% increase over the last year. We need to do a lot more. What we have done is an on-line survey, a voluntary survey where people can essentially answer some questions and we find out a little more: are they an academic; where are they living; are they a government official; etc.
I would be happy to share that information with you. We have a lot of people in China who read our Chinese website and view it as essentially a staple of their daily diet of information. This is the case even as China has a national firewall of information that comes in on the Internet. We are developing a Persian web site for people to come and access information about the United States.
Mr. Pachios: I think that is a key thing. I was in Syria a few years ago and it is a pretty closed society except for the Internet. The new president is interested in the Internet, so there is a whole lot more freedom with the Internet than there is with other mediums.
Mr. Holliday: In China, interestingly enough, we have a publication called “Info USA,” which is sort of a compendium of information about the United States. One of our folks was walking past a book store and saw that the web site had been downloaded in Chinese, turned into a book, and sold in Chinese book stores.
Lynn Ball, Public Diplomacy Council: You were talking about coordination with other U.S. government agencies. To what extent can you say something about coordinating with the Pentagon on its current policies in Iraq, CYOPS operations? [cyber operations]
Mr. Holliday: Sure. The Pentagon has a variety of different players in the international information arena. Assistant Secretary Clark is our principal [inaudible] on this. She is the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs. Within the Pentagon, you have Special Operations, Low Intensity Conflicts, the military side, the Joint Chiefs of Staff. There has always been a very high premium put on the information side, predominantly from their standpoint in a tactical environment – in a very localized environment. I think that one of the benefits of this kind of coordination and the role that this Policy Coordination Council is playing is: where are the appropriate lanes as you go from a more tactical battlefield environment to the broader public diplomacy arena that we work in? We want to make sure that those are synchronized and that we share information so that we can guarantee that the information is accurate, direct, open, etc. We are working very closely with them.
Mr. Pachios: This will be our last question.
[name inaudible] I wonder, Stuart – as things now work – what ways do public affairs officers in embassies around the world have of registering with IIP? To find out what the essential issues are; where they are. What ways do you have of taking into account reporting from outside of the country about where the problems in public diplomacy are and getting messages forth where they lie? Have you got a system you are satisfied with? Do you listen as much as you talk? Give us a little sense of how this interaction works.
Mr. Holliday: The short answer is that we are not there yet.
Mr. Pachios: Thank you very much Stuart for that interesting briefing. The meeting is now adjourned.