U.S. Public Diplomacy: Background and the 9/11 Commission Recommendations [Updated October 5, 2004]   [open pdf - 105KB]

"While the 9/11 terrorist attacks rallied unprecedented support abroad for the United States initially, they also heightened the awareness among government officials and terrorism experts that a significant number of people, especially within Muslim populations, harbor enough hatred for America so as to become a pool for terrorists. Over time, it became clear that for the global war on terrorism to succeed sustained cooperation from around the world would be required. Even prior to the 2001 attacks, a number of decisions by the Bush Administration, including refusing to sign onto the Kyoto Treaty, the International Criminal Court, the Chemical Weapons Ban, and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, damaged foreign opinion of the United States. After the decision to go to war with Iraq, much foreign opinion of the United States fell sharply, not only in the Arab and Muslim world, but even among some of America's closest allies. Some foreign policy and public diplomacy experts believe that using public diplomacy to provide clear and honest explanations of why those decisions were made could have prevented some of the loss of support in the war on terrorism. Many U.S. policymakers now recognize the importance of how America and its policies are perceived abroad. A former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and both chairmen of the 9/11 Commission recently expressed the view that public diplomacy tools are at least as important in the war on terrorism as military tools and should be given equal status and increased funding. At the same time, some believe that there are limits to what public diplomacy can do when the problem is not foreign misperception of America, but rather disagreements with specific U.S. foreign policies. A major expansion of U.S. public diplomacy activities and funding cannot change that, they say."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL32607
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