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Karen Hughes addresses 2005 Forum on the Future of Public Diplomacy
Karen Hughes, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs
Remarks to the 2005 Forum on the Future of Public Diplomacy
October 14, 2005
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Well, the professor just said, "Welcome to my house," so I'm glad to be here. I want to thank you, Professor Livingston. It's great to be here at George Washington University and I want to -- there's so many people who care so deeply and passionately about public diplomacy as I do. It's the area that fascinated me the most during my time at the White House, my 18 months there. And I'm really, really enjoying my new job at the State Department. I've been there about two months now. I spent the four months before that studying and meeting with a lot of people and digesting some of the 31-plus reports that had been written about the state of our public diplomacy. And I see a few people in the audience with whom I met and conferred while I was doing that.
The job is interesting. It's demanding, it's very busy. And I've been reminded every day and sometimes many times each day how very challenging it is. Fortunately, I like challenges and I was sent a State Department memo that I keep on my desk for times when I need a little perspective.
I want to quote a few of the excerpts: "Anti-Americanism is resurging in the Arab world. Bombings vitriolic public statements, diatribes and fantastic rumors in the press all testify to the rekindling of Arab animosity against the United States. Whether prompted by Muslim extremists, whether encouraged by irresponsible journalists or by weak government officials who seek to divert attention from their own inadequacies or whether attributable to a sincere objection to America's part in the region's development, the current emotionalism bodes no good."
That memo was an air gram, dated May 1, 1950. Of course, the challenge of that time successfully overcome with the key help of public diplomacy was the long Cold War against communism. Today we face a very different war against a diffused network of stateless terrorists in a completely different communications environment. We've had a communications explosion. I say we used to be trying to get information into a closed society where people were hungry for that information. Today we compete for attention and credibility in an explosive media environment. But once again, similar to the long Cold War, we find ourselves engaged in a generational and global struggle that requires every aspect of our national power, especially the power of our ideals. As Prime Minister Blair said after the bombings in London, "We must fight not just the terrorists' methods but also their views; not just their barbaric acts but also their barbaric ideas." President Bush last week further defined what we're up against as we face a form of radicalism, he said, "That exploits Islam to serve a violent political vision; the establishment by terrorism and subversion and insurgency; of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom."
So we're engaged in a fight about our most fundamental and founding values, the freedom to speak our minds, the freedom to worship freely and as we choose, the freedom to participate in the political process. President Bush has charged me with developing a long-term strategy to ensure that our ideals prevail.
Ideals which do not belong only to America but are shared by civilized people the world over. We put in place a strategic framework that has three key components and I've talked about them a just a little before but I want to expand on them some today.
First, we must offer a positive vision of hope that is rooted in the President's freedom agenda. When you think about it, when you stand back and think about it, what makes young people so desperate that they are willing to kill themselves and in the process kill a lot of other innocent people? Usually, the people who engage in this are very young. What motivates that? Faith doesn't teach that. All the Abrahamic faith teach that life is precious, the gift of God. So they have to be so desperate, so lacking in hope, so desperate that they have no other way to express themselves or make their point, that they think there's no other way.
Now, we have to change that equation. And in recognition of that, President Bush has changed America's policy. For 60 years, America basically ignored the freedom deficit in the Middle East, hoping that stability would achieve security. And as a result as Secretary Rice has recently noted, we got neither. Instead, we got conditions so cancerous that people were willing to fly airplanes into buildings full of innocent people. So our policy is to stand for freedom; freedom for people to express themselves, to have the opportunity to make an impact, to know their voice can make a difference in the future of their country. Freedom took a long time in our own country and so we understand that this pace of change will be different in different places. But freedom must be fostered and nurtured and encouraged.
During my recent trip to the Middle East, I heard some very interesting and some very encouraging things. In Egypt, we had a lively debate at my lunch table and it was very interesting. Members of different political parties who were gathered at my table told me two entirely different things about what the United States should do. One of them said the United States needed to mind our own business; it was pretty blunt, just about that blunt. The other one said we needed to speak up even more strongly and more loudly and encourage voices who were speaking up on behalf of free speech and greater political participation in the Middle East. So two opposite points of view right there at the same lunch table but I found it very encouraging that the climate in Egypt was one of debate and discussion.
In Saudi Arabia, one of the most interesting events of the trip -- I went to a private home for a late night discussion known as a majlis and it was very unusual because both men and women were there and this doesn't usually happen. Usually, only men attend or only women and they're not together. And the moderator, we noticed, kept calling on the men to express their points of view. And our Ambassador, several times, gently suggested that perhaps he might want to hear from a few of the women and at one point the moderator said, "Oh, well, the women don't have anything to say." And the women jumped up and waved their hands and yes, they did, have lots of things to say. And I found that Arab women were very articulate and very passionate and very eager to express their opinions.
People everywhere want to be heard. They want their opinions to count and to matter and to make a difference. This weekend, the people of Iraq will be heard as they go to the polls to vote on a new constitution. And we encourage all Iraqis to participate. They are showing the world that freedom is not just an American desire but a universal one; that people everywhere want to be able to be free and participate in their societies.
As Secretary Rice said recently, "It is not liberty and democracy that must be imposed; it is tyranny and silence that are forced upon people at gunpoint."
The second part -- the second key foundation of our strategic vision is that we must work to isolate and marginalize the extremists and undermine their appropriation of religion. We saw their brutal intentions and the terrible life they imposed on the people of Afghanistan. I've traveled there many times and seen what conditions were like there and talked to people about what they were like. A society where little girls weren't allowed to go to school or to even to learn to read; or women weren't allowed to work outside the home and in fact were kept as virtual prisoners in their home; where men were beaten if the length of their beard wasn't exactly, precisely right.
And let's be clear, that's the kind of terrible society that the people we are up against want to impose. Let's be clear about what's happening in Iraq. Whether you agree or disagree, and I know many people and I heard a lot of disagreement on my trip, with our decision to go into Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein. But whether you agree or disagree, I think focusing on -- we have to focus on what is happening in Iraq today and what is happening is that terrorists and insurgents are engaged in the indiscriminate murder of innocent fellow Muslims -- one lured day laborers to a van -- these are men out looking for work. They want to work so they can provide for their families. And a suicide bomber lured them to a van and then blew them all up. Just last week, a suicide bomber attacked a mosque, a holy place, on the first of the Shiite celebration of Ramadan, a holy month, and killed dozens of innocent people -- innocent fellow Muslims who were there, gathered to worship.
It's incumbent on all people and people of all faiths -- Muslims, Christians, and Jews -- to speak up because we cannot allow these radicals to get away with murder in the name of religion. We have direct new evidence of the ideology that guides and informs these type of acts. Our government intercepted a very chilling letter from top al-Qaida deputy Al-Zawahiri. It shows that al-Qaida and the insurgents care nothing for the people of Iraq but are using them as pawns, hoping to take over Iraq as a staging ground for their terror operations throughout the broader Middle East. But the letter also shows al-Qaida is worried. It said the tone had shifted from the brazen defiance of previous videos that we saw to what appears to be almost a note of desperation. They seem to recognized that Zawahiri's strategy in Iraq of indiscriminate killing of fellow Muslims could in fact backfire and cost them dearly in public opinion.
At every opportunity, the civilized world must come together to say that no injustice, no complaint can ever justify the murder of innocents. We must speak plainly also about the terrorists' intentions. As President Bush said last week, "They wish to make everyone powerless except themselves. They banned books and desecrated historical monuments and brutalized women. They seek to end dissent in every form and to control every aspect of life and rule the soul itself." As a communicator and a mother who is worried about the future of all of our children, I like to think of this in terms of the different messages that we are giving to young people. We want a hopeful future for Iraqi young people, for Israeli young people, for Palestinian young people -- we want them to be educated and go to school and grow up and live in safety and have a job and have an opportunity to make a difference in the future of their country.
As they recruit on the internet, the terrorists have a very different, very stark message for young people. They want them to blow themselves up and in the process kill a lot of other innocent people. And we have to explain it in a very stark and clear way because that is what we are facing the world today.
Our third strategic pillar -- and this actually, many of you may know Ambassador Frank Wisner and I had a wonderful conversation with him in New York and this is what prompted the third pillar. Frank talked to me about the need to really foster a sense of common interests between Americans and people of different countries and cultures and faiths throughout the world. And so the third strategic pillar is to work to foster that sense of common interests and common values between Americans and people from different countries.
I'll never forget a dinner I had in Austin. I had invited some women that I had met through the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council and I had them over for dinner at my house. I called it "Tex-Mex Meets Afghanistan" and as I looked around at the guests, I realized -- I hadn't realized in advance -- but I realized as I looked around that we had Muslims, Christians, Jews, people of all different faiths -- and as I said the blessing before dinner, I noted that and Habibi Serabi, who at the time was the director of women's affairs and is now the first woman governor of a province in Afghanistan said, "We all have so much in common. We are all members of the human race."
And we've seen that common humanity very vividly recently in response to terrible disasters, both here at home and abroad. We thanked the world -- Americans were so touched, I know, as the world generously responded in our hour of need in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. And we've also seen that spirit of generosity as America has responded to the terrible earthquake in Pakistan and to the mudslides in Guatemala. We see that generosity in action in more subtle ways every day as well. This Sunday is World Food Day and the United States -- a chance to remember that the United States partners with more than 150 countries around the world to help feed the world's hungriest people. Our people provide more than 60 percent of that emergency international aid.
Parents the world over have common interests and common values. We want a better life for our children. We want to live in safety and security. We want jobs and opportunity. As we foster this sense, our approach needs to be humble. We need to do so in a spirit of partnership and we need to do so in a spirit of listening. That's why I styled my recent tour as a listening tour. I wanted to go and meet with people that Americans don't always meet with and hear from people that Americans don't always hear from. I went to a children's program at a playground in a low income neighborhood to hear what parents there said. It was really interesting. A man asked me, "Does the Statue of Liberty still face out?" And I said, "Yes, she does. America is a welcoming country and we want young people here in Egypt to come visit America and we want American young people to go and visit Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Turkey. And to study abroad."
America is also confident of our ideals. We believe, given a fair hearing and a free choice, that people the world over will choose freedom over tyranny, tolerance over extremism, diversity over rigid conformity and justice over injustice. Our opponents have to resort to propaganda and hate speech and myths because they want closed minds. They want a very narrow point of view. We want open minds because we want people to decide for themselves. Our mission is we believe, again, given a fair hearing and a free choice, people will choose our ideals. And so our mission is to create the climate and conditions that allow people to give us that fair hearing.
Now, how do we communicate our strategic vision? I just told you the three strategic pillars. I hope you've heard of the 4-E's. As a communicator, I like to boil things down and make them easy to remember. I also realized that about the time the rest of us get sick of hearing about them, is about the time when people -- they'll begin to stick and people will actually remember them. I know this audience and especially some of the students here have studied some of them so I'll just quickly go through them.
The 4-E's are engage, exchange, educate and empower.
We have to engage more vigorously. We can't expect people to give a fair hearing to our ideas if we don't advocate them. And we have to be much more effective, rapid and nimble in responding to rumors and outright lies and misinformation.
The second E is exchange. As I prepared for this job, every person that I met with, every single person told me our most successful, most effective public diplomacy tool over the last 50 years has been our exchanges. Americans who go overseas talk about their lives being forever changed. People who come here have the opportunity to learn and see for themselves that Americans are generous, hardworking people who care about the same things they do; who value family and value faith.
So we also want Americans to study in abroad more. We need to learn more about different countries and cultures.
The third pillar is education. We know that education is the path to opportunity and upward mobility for boys as well as girls. Americans must educate ourselves to be better citizens of the world, learning different languages. And Secretary Rice is working on a strategic languages initiative to encourage more American young people to study languages that will be so important. I traveled -- when I traveled to the Middle East, my Deputy Dina Powell is Egyptian-born American, and her ability to speak Arabic -- you should've seen the faces when she started speaking in Arabic -- and people were surprised because they didn't expect an American government official -- I remember the King of Saudi Arabia in our meeting, he said something and realized she understood him and the surprise on his face as he realized that she spoke Arabic -- and so he said to her in Arabic, "You speak Arabic" and she said, "Yes, I do." And so it's -- we really need to do a better job of teaching our young people to learn different languages and learn more about other countries and cultures.
And through English language and other training programs, we can give young people very valuable skills that help them improve their own lives while also opening a window into more knowledge and understanding of our own values.
The final E is empowerment. We have to recognize that in this work, the most powerful and incredible voices are not always our own as government officials. For my first trip, I took two citizen ambassadors with me. One was a teacher from Wisconsin -- Russ Feingold, the Democratic Senator from Wisconsin is a big believer in citizen involvement and listening. And we had talked about that over the course of my confirmation hearings. And so I called him and said, "Do you have anybody you'd recommend to travel with me to the Middle East?" And he sent me this wonderful teacher named Bill O'Brien and Bill was a big bear of a guy and just a -- had fascinating conversations with educators in the countries we visited as well as people in that majlis in Saudia Arabia that I told you about -- at the very end of it, Bill had listened very carefully and at the very end of it, he stood up and he embraced our host in a big bear hug and he said, "I never realized Americans and Saudi Arabians had so much in common." And the whole room just broke out in a tremendous ovation. It was just a wonderful, wonderful moment.
Our other citizen ambassador is a graduate student working on her Ph.D. here in Washington -- a Muslim American. Her name is Kareema Daoud and wherever we went, she came with us -- she's working via on her way to her Ph.D. in Arabic linguistics -- and wherever we went, young people just flocked to her and they asked her, what's it like to live in America and what's it like to practice your faith in America? And she's kept up with them after the trip. They're exchanging e-mails and she's done some speaking about her experiences. And I want to create a robust -- we are working to expand this program to create a very robust citizen ambassadors program to allow Americans to share their unique American stories and to listen and learn with people across the world.
Empowerment is critical because we have to recognize that in some of this work, the voice of a government official may, frankly, not be the most credible or powerful voice. I've, for example, spent a great deal of time in these early weeks in my new job meeting and reaching out to Muslim Americans because, frankly, they have far greater credibility to debate issues of their faith, to condemn terrorism that's being committed in the name of their religion than I do. And so we have to empower these voices. We have to foster and form third party groups. We need to encourage interfaith dialogue and understanding. And we need to condemn hate speech of all kinds.
So I feel like the first few months that we've accomplished a great deal. I wanted to -- because I know this audience is very passionate about public diplomacy -- I wanted to share with you just a few of the tactical specifics of what we're doing.
First of all, we're bringing public diplomacy to the policy table and integrating it into every aspect of the State Department and I see Bill nodding down there -- Bill Rune nodding, who was very instrumental in giving me some great advice as I started my new job. Either me or a member of my senior staff attends Secretary Rice's first meeting every meeting and her last meeting every night and a whole lot of meetings in between. I wrote an extensive memo to the Secretary and to the President about what I heard on my recent trip. And I also personally briefed the President and Vice President and the National Security Advisor, Secretary Rice and the President's Chief of Staff and spent about an hour over lunch talking with them about what I heard on my trip. And so as I travel and listen, I'm bringing that feedback directly to the policymakers of our United States Government.
And it's not just me personally. We are also making institutional changes. We're working with the regional bureaus to integrate public diplomacy at a more senior level and to all -- the policymaking arms of the State Department by putting in place a DAS, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Diplomacy, who reports to both me -- it's a dual report to both me and the regional Assistant Secretary. And I believe that our first DAS is here somewhere. Colleen, are you here? Right there -- back there, our very first DAS in the European Bureau, Colleen Graffy. We're hoping others will be in place soon. And Colleen and others like her are going to make sure that when policy is being developed at the bureau level that public diplomacy is right there at the table.
Second, at the President's direction, I'm leading an interagency process that brings together senior level policy and communications officials from different agencies to develop a strategy, a government-wide communications strategy, to promote freedom and democracy to win the war of ideas and to set in place the communications strategic plans for the Administration. We had our first meeting several weeks ago. As government meetings go, that was a meeting to decide who should really be at the meeting. And so we're still sort of working all that through but I have a -- we had an -- actually, a very productive first meeting and we've got another one this very afternoon of that interagency working group that will seek to make. We've got a lot of resources and a lot of different agencies doing a lot of different things. And we have to pull them all together, set a strategic direction and make sure that everyone is going in the same direction.
Third, we are expanding our exchange programs. Dina Powell, my Deputy, who I mentioned is working -- we've already diverted some new money into both exchange and English language training programs. And we have a significant increase in the 2006 budget for exchanges. We're also creating new partnerships. Dina is working very hard on some new partnerships with the private sector that we hope will result in another expansion of exchange opportunities. Because, again, as Ed Morrow famously said, "Public diplomacy is about that last three feet; it's that people-to-people contact." So we're really going to support and foster and encourage and expand exchanges.
I mentioned the citizen ambassador program. We're also asking our State Department ambassadors and all our public affairs and Foreign Service Officers to do more. We're providing and helping provide the tools and the guidance that they need to be effective. On my first week at the State Department, I realized there's a whole lot of information but if you're not in Washington, it's very hard to pull it all together and to understand the tone and figure out what's really being said at that morning meeting at the State Department or at different agencies of government. So I put out now alerts that our ambassadors -- I had feedback that ambassadors find very helpful -- where they can use the information, it's a user-friendly communications tool that lets them use it to a press conference or a speech, they don't have to worry about clearance, they have the information on the major issues of the day and they can feel comfortable using that information.
We've also set up a 24-hour real-time monitoring and response unit to monitor media across the world, especially the Pan Arab media; also, looking some at the European and the Asian and looking at -- ultimately, we want it to be worldwide. We're starting with a few specific areas. And I'm getting, right now, the morning update from that open bureau so that when I walk into the office first in the morning, I know what's making news in different parts of the world. And I think that's very important because otherwise how can we be relevant if we don't know what people are focused in, different audiences in different parts of the world. It's perfect yet, but it's up and going and we're getting a report. Eventually as we get it to the way we want it, we're going to share that with all of our cabinet secretaries and all departments of government and also make it available to our ambassadors and anyone else who wants to have that information every morning.
We're also speaking at all the seminars for new ambassadors, emphasizing that public diplomacy is now part of the job description of every single ambassador and every single employee at the State Department. I know we have a number of USIA alumni here as well as students who might be interested in joining the State Department and helping with our public diplomacy, and I want to make sure that public diplomacy is a rewarding career path. We need to attract the best and brightest. This is -- I mentioned at the beginning -- a generational struggle and it's going to take all of us and take our very best to prevail. I want to give all of our public diplomacy professionals the tools and training and support that they need to excel.
Public diplomacy is, after all, people driven. I remind people that PD, that public diplomacy, stands for people driven. It's the job of all us, from public diplomacy professionals to the President to the Secretary of State. As part of Secretary Rice's vision of transformational diplomacy, communicating with foreign publics is going to be a critical part of every person's job at the United States State Department.
So we've done a lot of work. I think we're making a lot of progress. I feel very good about the first two months. I'm headed on another listening trip. Next week, I'm off to Indonesia and Malaysia, and I'm going to end up at a chiefs-of-mission conference in Hawaii. I have asked all of our chiefs-of-mission and ambassadors to bring their public affairs officers to those chiefs-of-mission conference this year, and I'm trying to attend everyone of them because I want to set the example of the ambassador and the public diplomacy and the public affairs person working hand in hand, as they work together in embassies across our world.
And so I'm looking forward to that and to the opportunity. I've found we have some wonderful people, wonderful Foreign Service and career professionals who are very dedicated to this job. And I view my job as trying to help give them the tools to be more effective on behalf of our country. And so I'm very excited about what I'm doing and I look forward to hearing from you all. I know they're offering us an opportunity to take some questions, so I look forward to your questions and any ideas and advice you have for me.
MODERATOR: (Inaudible) and we have a limited amount of time so I would ask you to come to the microphone (inaudible) before, state your name and organization. And if you can, try to make your question or comment relatively brief. And I'll be back again to insert myself, well, a couple of minutes before closing so that the Under Secretary knows how much time is left. Thank you.
QUESTION: Gil Robinson, former Deputy Director of USIA. We're very pleased that you came and addressed this group. You have here many of the former leaders who helped end the Cold War and in effect this is some of the troops that will follow you.
I just have one question. I've been in many groups discussing public diplomacy and they're very enthusiastic and nobody has a monopoly on ideas. When these ideas come forward, do you have a mechanism -- this is my question -- to receive these that will get directly to you? Of course you're too busy to meet with these people, but have you setup a little mechanism for that?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Well, internally I have setup -- Ideas-R-Us, it's called. The State Department does everything by letters, so we're R. I don't know how public diplomacy got to be R, the R Bureau and so I have an Ideas-R-Us, which is a website that any public diplomacy professional or any public affairs around the world can give input and I do see those. I periodically get reports from those and see them directly.
I also did an interactive web chat, which was the first time that has ever been done before, with our public -- I invited every member of the public diplomacy community to get on the web and I spent about an hour and a half answering questions and engaging in an exchange. The technology was not quite as great as we would have liked, but we're going to make that an ongoing activity because I think it's so important to talk with the -- for the people in the field to feel like they have links with me and for me to have the opportunity to benefit from their feedback. That's what I'm attending these chiefs-of-missions conferences because I want to hear from them what works.
In fact, they had me set up to speak and I said I don't want to speak; I want to listen. I want to -- I'll be glad to talk a little bit about the strategy, but I want to hear from people in the field what's working, what's realistic, what makes sense and what doesn't. And they're the ones who are enacting these programs.
Gil, in terms of feedback, I get a lot of letters and I do try to look at all my correspondence. I know Bill sent me something just this week that I read, so I would welcome you to send letters. My Chief of Staff, Dan Smith, is here and he reviews everything and so if you want to get something to Dan, Dan will look at it and will pass it on to me.
QUESTION: Good. Thanks so much.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Thank you.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) USIA alumni and former Ambassador to Nepal. I know this is your first two months and I can understand the singular focus on the Arab world. But in my regular travels, particularly through Asia and most recently to Europe, I have been somewhat surprised by the rising anti-Americanism in countries, in regions, outside of the Arab world; and not just among Muslims, and particularly, among the younger people. I wonder if you might comment and expand a bit on, you know, you're going to revitalize public diplomacy, so what is going to be your strategy and your plans for the rest of the world?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Well, that's actually -- that's a great question, and it's something I remind myself all the time, because obviously the -- because we're engaged in this struggle of ideas, this war of ideas, we do focus -- my first trip was to the Middle East, but that is not, by any means, the extent of the public diplomacy portfolio and I'm very cognizant of that. In fact, we are planning a trip to Latin America for one of my early trips just for that very reason. And I was scheduled to go to Europe -- that may be changing a little bit now, but of course, clearly I will be traveling to Europe certainly in the months ahead and that is a big part of our job.
And I think Colleen just came from living in London for a couple of years, Colleen? One year?
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY GRAFFY: Twenty.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Twenty. I didn't realize it was quite that long. So she is very tuned in to the situation in Europe and we're trying our best to send more government officials to conferences, to events, to the capitals in Europe. I also -- to build on the listening tour that I've done, I consider one of my jobs to set an example. And so the listening tour is not just about Karen Hughes going out to listen; it's about encouraging everyone in our government to do comparable things as they travel.
And so Secretary Rice this week, at the urging of the President, sending a memo to her fellow members of the cabinet, urging them when they travel abroad on U.S. Government business to also have listening events in the places they visit and then to report back and to give us the feedback so that we can present it at cabinet meetings and present it to the President. And so as our government officials travel across the world that we will report back and have a mechanism to do listening events everywhere in the world.
And so I'm very much cognizant of the need to pay attention to the wider world. And particularly living in Texas, I see a lot from Latin America the rise of anti-Americanism that's being promoted by certain parties there and so I'm very cognizant of that and will make sure to keep in mind working on our public diplomacy in the rest of the world as well.
And of course, it's the job of every ambassador, that means it's taking place in every country in the world with some guidance and direction from those of us here at the State Department in Washington.
QUESTION: Avi Davidi Voice of America Persia Service. How do you plan to overcome the challenge of absence of diplomatic relationship between the U.S. and a target audience?
And if you can -- in your experience -- and to refer the case of Iran with (inaudible) public diplomacy policy in Iran and what would be under your leadership? And I would like to explore this opportunity and invite you to our live TV program that we are able to cast you on. Thank you.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Well, thank you very, very much. That's an interesting question and it's one that I really haven't focused on at this point. I've, as you can imagine, my days are quite busy and I have been focused on kind of putting in place our strategic direction worldwide. I have not specifically focused on how to communicate in countries like Iran where we do not have formal diplomatic relations. But that's an interesting and I'll certainly look into it.
QUESTION: Howard LeFranky(ph) with the Christian Science Monitor. I think we saw a pretty impressive shift in public opinion about the United States in Indonesia after the U.S. really took a lead role in relief after the tsunami.
So I'm wondering about Pakistan and what specifically -- how have we jumped on to and has there been a focus on -- I hate to use the word "using" but anyway -- the earthquake as an opportunity to maybe accomplish the same thing in a very important country.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Well, obviously, as we deliver aid and help to people who desperately need it, we're doing so for the right reasons because we are concerned and because we care about those people. I hope that what that shows the world is a very compassionate side of America. That's a very important part of America -- our generosity as a people. Not only our government assistance but the assistance of our citizens in the tremendous response.
For example, you mentioned the tsunami -- to President Bush and President Clinton's joint initiative to raise money. I think they've raised close to a $1 billion in private donations to help with reconstruction after the tsunami.
And so not only our government response but the generosity of the American people themselves is a very important story and I think it shows the world -- I call it aid with an American face -- it shows the world the humanity and the compassion which then shows, frankly, as you mentioned, a very important country, Pakistan, that we care about -- that Americans care. We have a number of Pakistani Americans who I know who have also worked very generously to respond. We care about the future of Pakistan. The earthquake is horrific. I have not talked to with Secretary Rice about what she saw but I read her comments. She's not returned yet. But I read her comments and it's just the devastation just sounds almost unimaginable.
And so I think as we do the right thing, that we are showing the world a very important side of America. And I hope that that will show them more about what we are truly like and what a wonderful and generous people my fellow Americans really are.
QUESTION: My name is Eve Patel(ph). I'm public diplomacy officer to the Netherlands Embassy. And my question concerns your recent trip to the Middle East, which was concerned to the press a mix bag of very positive and some less positive experiences. What is the most important lesson you learned? And to what extent will it influence the strategy during your next trip to the Middle East? Thank you.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Thank you very much. Well, it was a -- first of all, it was -- I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and found it fascinating. I saw several news reports that -- you can't always believe everything you read in the press accounts. I know that will come as a shock to most of you but I was not -- I heard very strong opinions and I expected to hear very strong opinions. So I wasn't really taken aback by something. Someone mentioned that I was taken aback by things I heard and I was not at all. In fact, I would expect -- as I made the point with several friends -- that I'm not surprised that meeting with a number of very activist women in Turkey, very activist, opinionated, strong-willed, forceful women that some of them disagreed with our -- many of them disagreed with our position to go into Iraq. I suspect that if I met with a similar group in the United States, I would probably hear the same thing. I understand that there are a number of people who disagree with our decision to go in and remove Saddam Hussein from power.
So I did hear some of that. I tried -- when I heard that, to focus people on where we are now and our common interest in moving forward and making sure that we help the Iraqi people develop a unified and stable and democratic country. And I think most everyone agrees with that goal. And so I tried to -- I listened and I also tried to focus on what next steps ahead. It was a -- we had a lot of fascinating discussions, a very fascinating event at a women's college in Saudi Arabia. And I guess one of the things that surprised me was to realize the extent to which people -- the women in Saudi Arabia were very concerned about what Americans think about them. They cited a recent Oprah show -- they kept talking about the media and they explained to me later that what they were referring to was very specifically an Oprah Winfrey show that had told the story of domestic violence, the abuse of a spouse in Saudi Arabia and the women felt that it portrayed a very negative image of Saudi Arabian women, one that was not fair. And so it was very interesting. I was able to joke with them but I didn't feel like the image that we get through our media is all the time all that fair either.
But so it was an interesting perspective to hear their concern about how we as Americans view women in Saudi Arabia, as well as be concerned about our concern about how our policies and our country is viewed in their country. And so that was an interesting perspective. I was very encouraged by the climate of debate and the interest in freedom and the discussion of, "Are you really, you know, do you really want us to able to speak up more; do you really want us to be able to participate in the political process; do you" -- and so that was a fascinating discussion.
I did learn a great deal. One of the things that's very valuable to me as a communicator is to understand how things are heard by different audiences in different parts of the world. For example, the point was made to me in several places that when we talk about building institutions in Gaza that sometimes a Palestinian hears that Gaza is it as opposed to Gaza is a step toward what we support, which is a Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and freedom with the state of Israel. And so that's an important perspective for me to hear and for me to communicate to our policymakers that how our messages are being heard differently in different parts of the world. So that's an example of something, for example, that I shared.
Thank you very much.
QUESTION: My name, Andre Adid(ph). I'm Deputy Chief of Mission of (inaudible) Embassy here. Before I even coming here, I was director for public diplomacy for one year in my department. I come to my conclusion that if you want to change your country image, you have to change the reality on the ground first. That's my conclusion after I spending time working for public diplomacy. So is there any plan in implementing the strategy of public diplomacy that you are going also to push to change some U.S. policy that undermine your image abroad?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: For example, what policy?
QUESTION: For example, policy in Iraq or in Middle East or policy toward Muslim country or policy that -- let's say, to Kyoto Agreement and other policy. Thank you.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Thank you. That's a question that I frequently heard, it's almost become -- I heard over and over again and the reason I asked you what policy is because, for example, let's take Iraq. Our policy in Iraq is that we want a democratic, a stable and a united Iraq. And I think that's what most people in the Middle East want as well. They want a democratic, stable Iraq as a neighbor. And so I don't think they want us to abandon that policy before we achieve that result; although they don't, as I said, many looking back did not agree -- and I recognize that -- with our decision to go into Iraq in the first place. But given where we are today, I think most of the people I talked with agree that, yes, even though they disagreed before, that yes, where we are right now, it's in all of our interest to have a united and democratic Iraq emerge.
On the Palestinian issue, I heard a lot of complaints about our policy on the Palestinian issue. And I reminded people, well, what do you think our policy on the Palestinian issue is? A lot of people wanted to be very negative about Israel. And I reminded people that President Bush is the first president to make it the formal policy of our country that we support an independent Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel. And so I asked audiences, "Do you disagree with that policy? Do you think we should not support a Palestinian state?" Now, I understand that people can maybe think that the United States ought to push more or pull more or, you know, try to achieve that result in a different way. But I think the fundamental policy that we support the creation of a Palestinian state is something that's widely supported in the region.
Now, there are some things, for example, Kyoto that understand that the world would like us to adopt Kyoto, but as you know, when it was presented to the United States Senate in an early form, it was voted 98 to nothing against it. And it's a policy that we believe would be very bad for the United States' economy and therefore the world's economy.
And so we do not support that. However, are there ways that we can work together on the issue, the fundamental issue, climate change, absolutely. And we are doing so. And so, as I said, it's a dialogue and a two-way street and I understand that we're not always going to agree on specific issues. But I think we can achieve consensus and common ground on some broad goals.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Thank you very much. Thank you. I'm looking forward to it.
QUESTION: Hi there, Under Secretary. My name is Jim Zenody(ph). I'm a student at American University's School of International Service. And I wanted to build on a couple of concepts that you discussed, the first being the effectiveness of citizen ambassadors to promote policy overseas. And then the second having to do with -- you gave the example of the Saudi women being very, very interested in what we think of them. I'm curious to know if you've given any thought to the idea of having a listening tour here, with the idea of having members of civil society from other countries or diplomats there come thorough and actually have that forum where you have many citizen ambassadors, giving them an understanding of how we feel. And not only that but also helping them to have a sense of ownership over what your bureau is doing and maybe a little bit more of an understanding of when they see in the paper, a story about what you're doing. A sense not that's it just President Bush's friend Karen Hughes, but it's something that they can attach some real significance and importance to you.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: That's an interesting idea. How would you see it working? Bringing, like a group of eight or ten people to different American cities?
QUESTION: Certainly, certainly.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: I mean, we do have an International Visitors Program where we do just that. It's not styled as a listening, so that's kind of an interesting concept.
QUESTION: I would certainly say some sort of a barnstorming thing on an official level, you know, whether you yourself as part of it or someone in your bureau, Ms. Powell, let's say, facilitating it, and opening up for more of a sort of a broad-based discussion. You know, you alluded to the fact that you've definitely tried to tape Muslim American community business leaders here and there, but perhaps a more broad-based thing that is publicized to where it's, you know, the Department of State, rightly so, looks outward but in a sense of utilizing the resources that we have here and, sure, having these guests come here, and guests that, you know, for whatever sort of strategic reasons or just from a standpoint of good relations, are in a best position to go back home and be able to explain this is the American way of life, I've got a better feel for it.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Right. That's a great idea. I'll explore that with Dina. Our International Visitors Program, we're trying to make more strategic and targeted at -- the Ambassador who asked me a question earlier mentioned young people, her concern about a rising sentiment of concern about America among young people. We're trying to really make our exchange programs and International Visitors Programs strategic and targeted at youth and those who influence them. So for example, teachers and clerics and coaches and people who have broad circles of influence among young people. And it's a very interesting idea to try to maybe have some of those International Visitors Programs maybe as one stop they could sit down with a group of American citizens in a community and have an exchange. I'll follow up on that. That's a great idea.
I do -- we are really working on the citizen programs because: a) I believe in them but also I think it's really -- citizens are our very best natural asset and we've got a lot of people who really travel around the world all the time who, for example, have skills and expertise that parts of the world would like -- our teachers, our legal professionals, our science community, our technology community.
So I'm hoping to work on some two-way exchanges where we could go back and forth with those professionals, perhaps helping give -- doing some training, some skills development that parts of the world would welcome, and also exposing them to the American people in the process.
Thank you very much. Yes, sir.
QUESTION: David Newton. I'm a former Ambassador to Iraq and Yemen. My second career until last year, I was the Director of Radio Free Iraq. I participated in former Secretary Shultz's seminar on the future of international broadcasting, which is my concern -- it's half the budget -- and particularly broadcasting to the Arab world.
In recent years we've closed VOA Arabic, we've greatly reduced VOA English to the Middle East and tried to shut down Radio Free Iraq, which survived with a very small budget. I'm concerned that we don't have -- we do have Radio Sawa, which is aimed at younger people, a very important audience, but it's 75 percent music and 25 percent news. I'm concerned we don't have another station, which focuses on opinion leaders and the many other people, including many young people, who want more information, more serious programs.
I wondered if you had a chance to look at international broadcasting and what you've thought about it.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: That's a great question and it's actually something -- I've attended my first meeting of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. I represent the Secretary, as many of you know, as one seat on a nine-member Board of Governors. And so broadcasting is a big part of the budget but I have very little control of it because I'm one person on a nine-member board. I hope and believe that I'll be able to work with the Board of Governors and that I've shared our strategic direction with them. I think there are some, you know, some things that we can do. I hear a lot the concern about VOA Arabic and I've heard that in a number of places and I definitely want to look at that because I have heard it a great deal.
Interesting on Sawa. I just saw a report. Our actual -- we've been able to achieve some favorable improvements in Morocco. There's a recent survey that showed that we had improved somewhat our country's standing in Morocco, and we asked the Embassy to give us an evaluation of what had helped, and Sawa was one of the things they mentioned, that they thought that that was giving a very appealing side of America to young people. And I also have heard the concern that it's too much music and not enough news, but it is providing a platform that is gaining an audience.
And I agree that there's a different audience, though, of people who may want more serious, comprehensive, in-depth information and so VOA Arabic is something I'm planning to look at because I have heard that on a number of occasions.
I'm also -- you know, I'm sort of -- in terms of broadcasting, I think we have so many opportunities to take programs that exist and amplify them. For example, at the Broadcasting Board of Governors I suggested we have all these exchange students coming over here; why don't we do a documentary on what they find so that instead of just the individuals themselves who come, if you got that broadcast on a station, a big pan-Arab station or one of our own stations, you get a much bigger audience. You have a chance to have a lot -- you know, you could almost do it as a reality experience or a documentary where the cameras follow the group of visitors or the exchange students throughout their experience here. And that's a way to amplify and magnify the exchange experience and share it with a lot of other people. So I am looking at ways to use broadcasting and technology to do things just like that.
Thank you. Yes, ma'am.
QUESTION: Good morning, Under Secretary Hughes. My name is Megan Whitmore (ph). I am undergraduate student here at George Washington studying political communications and I just wanted to thank you again very much for coming. I have followed your career from the very beginning. You're a role model to me and I think you bring great energy to public diplomacy and a great energy to this administration.
I'd like to really focus on what we have been discussing and the youth generation and my generation now. I think that our generation has grown up utilizing this technology, having it at hand and really being born into the generation to have that communication technology born into us and right at our fingertips. And I think we are a valuable resource to you and to the future of public diplomacy as the future of public diplomacy leaders. And I think, as you said, you know, you need to look at what we can do and how we can help.
I was a scholar at the U.S. Foreign Policy Institute this summer, here at George Washington, and we spoke directly with policymakers such as yourself from the State Department, from the Department of Defense, and we had some brilliant students who are just so intellectual, motivated and passionate about public diplomacy. And I think that as you continue to build broadcast, to build documentaries, to integrate the youthful generation, our generation, into public diplomacy and your initiatives that you should continue to see us as a resource and continue to utilize us.
And I think I speak for myself and many of my peers here at George Washington and many of the universities around our country who are willing and who are ready to help you and help the rest of the world to contact the other youthful generation of the world and help out.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Well, thank you very much for, first of all, for your kind words, but also your enthusiasm. I'm delighted that you're interested in public diplomacy and I agree that you all understand technology in a way that even, you know, I can do e-mail but about the extent of my capabilities.
And so, my 18-year old text messages all the time and I see him on his phone with the text messaging. I don't know the first idea how to do it but he and his friends communicate that way. And it's interesting, I raised it in several discussions and said, you know, is that something we could potentially use or is that just sort of a more personal communication; and interestingly enough, in Asia, several countries have used text messaging to deliver messages. There was recently a gas price increase and a government used text messaging to deliver a message to citizens about why it had to raise gas prices.
So that was very interesting. I think if I started sending my son messages on text messaging, he would not like it. So you have to figure out whether people like to get information that way or not. There are also apparently something called "text polling" where you can go in through text messaging and get information, much as we do -- those of us who aren't as sophisticated as you and your generation -- on the internet.
And so young people are a great resource. I met with a group of students, my very first week here, because I view young people as a great resource. I was out at the Annenberg School and met with Jeff Cowen and a group of his people and had a big technology briefing. And in fact, they talked about some technology that I had never even heard of before.
And so one of the things I am going to really focus on. I believe that IIP, the Bureau of International Information Programs ought to become a technology hub, not only for the State Department, but for the U.S. Government. And so we're going to make that one of IIP's core missions and we're convening a private sector advisory council where I'm reaching out to some of the best minds in the technology world to try to get them to help me. But I hadn't thought about getting young people to help me, too. But I think that's a very good idea.
So why don't you and a group of students -- you pull together a group of students and you call Dan Smith and I will meet with you and I want to hear your ideas for how we can use technology because that's very timely, it's something we're working on and it's something we really want to insert into our IIP program.
QUESTION: Well, thank you. I've handed Dan Smith my contact information already.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Perfect.
QUESTION: So you better get back to me. (Laughter.)
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: All right. It'll be after I get back from my trip. I'm going to Indonesia and Malaysia, but after that I will get together with you.
QUESTION: Thank you.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: So thank you all so very much. I really appreciate your hospitality. You've been a great audience. Thank you very much.
Released on October 15, 2005