Sunday, October 16, 2005

I'm impressed

I was highly critical of the performance of Condoleezza Rice as National Security Advisor. In that role, she did not seem well-suited to arbitrate and effectively funnel information and opinions from the various national security organs to the president. She often seemed over-matched in a divided national security team consisting of heavyweights like Powell, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Tenet and Wolfowitz.

However, I have been pleasantly surprised by her efforts in her new role as Secretary of State. She has left strong positive impressions in Europe and the Middle East following extensive visits to those regions. On those and other trips, she has done a credible job of demonstrating the administration's commitment to enhancing relationships. She was instrumental in fundamentally altering the US negotiating position with North Korea to bring a landmark deal regarding their nuclear program closer to reality. And now I read of an impressive new initiative to enhance ties with foreign partners through an exercise of American "soft power," in the words of Joseph Nye:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced Saturday that Jack Straw, the British foreign secretary, had accepted her invitation to spend Friday, Saturday and Sunday in her home state, Alabama, for "an important diplomatic weekend," as an aide described it. They will perform the pregame coin flip when the University of Alabama football team faces Tennessee in Tuscaloosa, and then stay to watch the game, said Jim Wilkinson, her senior adviser. Their other activities will include a visit to Brunetta C. Hill Elementary School in Birmingham, which Ms. Rice attended. Ms. Rice and Mr. Straw are friends, but she explained that the unusual trip signaled a new policy to invite foreign ministers to see parts of America besides Washington and New York. Secretaries of state seldom take official trips within the United States, but Ms. Rice said guiding foreign officials on such visits would help give them a greater appreciation and understanding of the nation.

While such actions cannot surmount all of the challenges this nation faces diplomatically, they can be very helpful mechanisms to enhance our public diplomacy efforts. Following 9/11 many questions have been raised about how to credibly restore the luster to America's image around the world. Pete Peterson championed the cause by setting up a Working Group at the Council on Foreign Relations and writing an article on the subject in Foreign Affairs. The Bush Administration placed great emphasis on the effort by hiring a former advertising heavyweight, Charlotte Beers, to serve as the first Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy at the Department of State. She was later replaced by former Bush 41 State Department mouthpiece, Margaret Tutweiler. But to-date most of the administration initiatives have been rather simplistic approaches like advertising campaigns targeting the Middle East showing how Muslims are accepted in America. These efforts were naturally greeted with a good deal of skepticism.

But now Bush has wisely moved Karen Hughes into the role under Rice. And Rice's small efforts to expose our friends and allies to a deeper and broader slice of the country is not only a personal gesture to foreign leaders, but one which which will give foreign observers a better chance to understand what makes America tick. Moreover, such visits will also give Americans around the country a better opportunity to interact with foreigners and understand their concerns and issues. Worth keeping an eye on.

No comments:

  • Better Living: Thoughts from Mark Daniels
  • Evangelical Outpost
  • One Hand Clapping
  • Camp Katrina
  • TPMCafe
  • Dodger Thoughts
  • Boy of Summer
  • Irish Pennants
  • tabletalk
  • Fire McCain
  • My Sandmen
  • Galley Slaves
  • Michelle Malkin
  • myelectionanalysis
  • Iraq the Model
  • Mystery Pollster
  • A Bellandean! God, Country, Heritage
  • Right Truth
  • The Fourth Rail
  • Counterterrorism Blog
  • Just One Minute
  • Broken Masterpieces
  • Kudlow's Money Politic$
  • Econopundit
  • Tapscott's Copy Desk
  • The Blue State Conservatives
  • Palousitics
  • Christian Conservative
  • Outside the Beltway
  • The Belmont Club
  • Froggy Ruminations
  • The Captain's Journal
  • Argghh!!!
  • Chickenhawk Express
  • Confederate Yankee
  • Reasoned Audacity
  • Taking Notes
  • ThisDamnBlog
  • Three Knockdown Rule
  • Dogwood Pundit
  • Dumb Looks Still Free
  • Unfettered Blather
  • Cut to the Chase
  • Alabama Improper
  • Austin Bay Blog
  • Michael Yon-Online
  • The Trump Blog
  • A Lettor of Apology
  • GM Fastlane Blog

  • Powered by Blogger

    Listed on BlogShares Who Links Here