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US Public Diplomacy in Crisis

Washington, DC Jan. 22nd, 2007 ----

"At the Private Sector Summit on Public Diplomacy at the U.S. Department of State on Wednesday, January 10, 2007, 150 top public relations professionals and State Department leaders identified 11 action steps for greater private sector involvement and support for U.S. public diplomacy. The Summit was co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen P. Hughes, Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs Dina H. Powell and the Public Relations Coalition. The Public Relations Coalition, chaired by James E. Murphy, represents U. S. based professional organizations with over 50,000 members engaged in public relations, public affairs and related fields."

The lengths Big Business and this Administration will go to to cloud over the real issues, and provide a back slapping photo opportunity for the public are legendary. We saw them pulling an identical stunt with the "Brand America" crowd of big business contributors over at the Department of Commerce.

Not to be outdone Ms. Rice pulled together the big PR Barons advising such companies as ENRON, Global Crossing, Ford, GM, and a long list of other massive failures under the Bush Administration. This time they are looking to sell American Diplomacy as ENRON or Cornflakes. The lessons from the failure of Charlotte Beers have already been swept under the carpet and now the unholy alliance of Karen Hughes and Condaleeza Rice pick up the spluttering torch of NeoCon propaganda and march forth, to the applause of the Big PR companies smelling a slice of the alleged $450 million Pentagon propaganda budget. Unfortunately Rice doesn't even have the budget to run her own Department properly, so it turned out to be a good networking event for the well heeled PR executives.

Like the tourism conference seeking a low cost "Brand America" they issued a news release which takes US Public Diplomacy and makes it akin to Nike Shoes, or BBQ Sauce. Why not invite Al Qaeda to Billy Bobs and have a Texas line dance.

"At the Private Sector Summit on Public Diplomacy at the U.S. Department of State on Wednesday, January 10, 2007, 150 top public relations professionals and State Department leaders identified 11 action steps for greater private sector involvement and support for U.S. public diplomacy. The Summit was co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen P. Hughes, Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs Dina H. Powell and the Public Relations Coalition. The Public Relations Coalition, chaired by James E. Murphy, represents U. S. based professional organizations with over 50,000 members engaged in public relations, public affairs and related fields.

The presentation of private sector best practices was followed by intense group discussions during which the Summit participants identified actions that would have the greatest impact on private sector public diplomacy efforts. These include:

Developing business practices making public diplomacy a core element of international corporate public action:
• Name a corporate officer responsible for public diplomacy;
• Incorporate U.S. business practices consistent with U.S. values of respect for the individual, opportunities and entrepreneurship.

Promoting understanding of American society, culture and values:
• become part of the local community through employee volunteerism, strategic philanthropy, and greater engagement with responsible NGOs;
• create "circles" of influence through relationships with organizations, chambers of commerce, journalists, and local business leaders;
• create local opportunities to win internship opportunities in the U.S.;
• provide English-language training and overseas studies for disadvantaged students.

Building relationships of trust and respect:
• support the creation of a corps of private sector "foreign service officers" made up of academics and business people with specialized expertise who could work abroad on short term assignments;
• provide incentives for non-U.S. workforce to visit U.S. and for U.S. work force to travel overseas;
• sponsor international short-term assignments for U.S. employees;
• have private sector public diplomacy summits in key geographies;
• provide financial support for some State Department educational and cultural exchanges.

The key recommended actions will be published as part of a Public Relations Coalition report on the Summit. It will include other actions that the private sector can adopt in its continuing effort to improve public diplomacy."

Washington insider whispers believes Ms. Rice will crash and burn herself back to California, and her Oil friends after an abortive attempt to run for the White House. She certainly can't do anything worse than she has as probably the worst National Security Adviser ever, and a lack-luster Secretary of State. Anyway George likes her.

Now it's understood that over a million Mexican nationals want to take advantage of her offer of incentives to visit the USA, and many US employees would welcome a trip to Paris, Rome or Bankok, depending on the time of year.

In the real world of 2007 TV Marti will still go on beaming jammed TV propaganda to Cuba, and the Pentagon will still be paying Iraqi journalists to write glowing pieces on the glorious occupation of US forces, and subsequently getting shot down a dark alley.

Unfortunately the Super Tanker named after Ms Rice has been renamed, or it could be renamed again "Secretary of State Rice" and sail up and down the Strait of Hormuz impressing the Iranians on her grasp of public diplomacy and her experience of international travel. Hey it's about as realistic as many of the other suggestions, but sorry none of these people, including Bush have any experience of other cultures. Rice at least read some books.

It was then I read again both the "Brand America" publicity, and the "Public Diplomacy" publicity. It's all about fundraising! Get the big private trade associations and Fortune 100 companies to bail out the failed administration. Let's privatize the Department of State and the Department of Commerce. Give away the farm and let the peasants eat cake.

What a really sorry state of affairs. Bin Laden must be laughing all the way to his cave.

 

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