Yes, she is the most senior official in the Bush administration responsible for working to improve America's image around the world - and that image is in trouble, as polls abroad show. It is therefore not surprising that many people have blamed Ms. [Karen Hughes], the undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs at the State Department since 2005, for failing to correct this problem. But that judgment ignores several important facts.
Second, "public diplomacy" is not a panacea. Misinformation is widespread in this world of 24/7 global chatter, and public diplomacy can help bring facts and reasoning into the ongoing discussion. But it alone cannot remake America's image abroad - an image that is formed primarily by our policies and actions.
Ms. Hughes knows this, too. She has worked hard, and successfully, to expand the exchanges of students and professionals that the State Department sponsors. In only two years, she increased the number of participants in the department's exchange programs from 27,000 to more than 38,000. She also expanded English teaching programs abroad, a "secret weapon" that carries considerable American cultural content and helps foreigners understand us better.
All articles © The Baltimore Sun and may not be republished, copied or distributed without permission.
If you have questions or comments about the archives, please send us feedback