U.S. Public Diplomacy: Background and the 9/11 Commission Recommendations [Updated May 1, 2006]   [open pdf - 76KB]

"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. In the years prior to September 11th, both Congress and the various administrations downplayed the importance of funding public diplomacy activities, and in 1999 abolished the primary public diplomacy agency - the U.S. Information Agency (USIA). Public diplomacy often was viewed as less important than political and military functions and, therefore, was seen by some legislators as a pot of money that could be tapped for funding other government activities. 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."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL32607
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