Public Diplomacy and the War on Terrorism

The following article is adapted from the chairman's preliminary summary of the report of the Independent Task Force on Public Diplomacy sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations. Members of the task force, chaired by Peter G. Peterson, are listed on page 92. The findings discussed in this article are based on discussions and recommendations reached in task force meetings and have not been reviewed by all members. Key recommendations include the following: issuance of a presidential directive establishing a priority commitment and a new course for public diplomacy; establishment of a coordinating structure, chaired by a principal adviser to the president, to harmonize the public diplomacy efforts of government agencies, allies, and private-sector partners; as part of a broad effort to expand private-sector and indigenous development, dialogue, and debate, creation of an independent, not-for-profit "Corporation for Public Diplomacy" as the centerpiece of expanded public-private involvement in public diplomacy; and increased training, resources, and up-to-date technology for State Department and other government officials responsible for public diplomacy.

A full-length version of the report, its appendices, and dissents can be found on the Council on Foreign Relations Web site, at www.cfr.org.

A STRATEGY FOR REFORM

A consensus is emerging, made urgent by the war on terrorism, that U.S. public diplomacy requires a commitment to new foreign policy thinking and new structures. They are needed to make clear why the United States is fighting this war and why supporting it is in the interests of others, as well as of Americans. Because terrorism is now considered the transcendent threat to America's national security, it is overwhelmingly in the national interest that the United States formulate and manage its foreign policies in such a way that, in its war on terrorism, it receives the indispensable cooperation of foreign nations.

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