School of Media and Communication

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US [Public] Diplomacy and The War on Terrorism by Jim Kouri

US Diplomacy and The War on Terrorism
by Jim Kouri, CPP

The war on terrorism has focused attention on the important role US public diplomacy plays in improving the nation's image. The United States has undertaken efforts to "win hearts and minds" by better engaging, informing, and influencing foreign audiences; however, recent polling data show that anti-Americanism is spreading and deepening around the world.

The latest incident being used by our enemies and those on the left of the political spectrum within the US and European countries is the allegations of abuse at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center. But why has there been so little done to anticipate and thwart such allegations? And why has what's been done such an abysmal failure?

The White House has launched several recent initiatives designed to promote the coordination of US public diplomacy efforts, but the government does not yet have a public diplomacy communications strategy. In 2002, a Strategic Communications Policy Coordinating Committee (PCC) was created to help provide central direction to communication efforts.

The committee drafted a national communication strategy, but the committee was disbanded in 2003 and no strategy was issued. In 2003, an Office of Global Communications was created to facilitate White House and interagency efforts to communicate with foreign audiences.

According to a recent report by the Defense Science Board and comments by agency officials, the office has not implemented this role. Although a national communications strategy has not yet been developed, the White House established the Muslim World Outreach Policy Coordinating Committee in 2004 to coordinate public diplomacy efforts focused on Muslim audiences. The group is in the early phases of drafting strategic and tactical communications plans.

In addition to White House efforts, the State Department created an Office of Policy, Planning, and Resources in 2004 to help coordinate and direct the department's wide-ranging public diplomacy operations. Also, the US Agency for International Development and the Department of Defense are redefining their public diplomacy roles and operations in response to the increased attention given to US outreach efforts.

The State Department has had some success involving the private sector in the area of international exchanges. However, other efforts to engage the private sector have met with limited success. For example, the State Department formed a panel of outside advisors to recommend areas where the department and the private sector could coordinate their efforts. The panel's final report suggested a number of possibilities; however, none of these suggestions were acted upon due to a lack of resources, bureaucratic resistance, and limited management commitment.

Sources: General Accountability Office, US Department of State, National Security Institute

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com,, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.

The opinions expressed in this column represent those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, views, or philosophy of, Inc.

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