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UNITED STATES: Public diplomacy

Paul Simon says: "There's a public affairs officer even in quite small consulates like this one. Their programs vary between academic exchanges, US-government sponsored programs paying for future leaders to visit the USA, to press releases, speeches, group sessions, English language talks, engaging guest speakers, etc. All Public Affairs Officers are fluent in the local language and have a locally-hired staff.I'm not in a position to judge how effective these programs are but the huge numbers of foreign students in the USA has in part been attributed to successful public diplomacy. It has also been pointed out that the the more democracy and free economy minded leaders of Latin America and E Europe often had come to the US on exchanges and important visitor programs when they were younger.PD doesn't target heads of state, it looks for budding leaders in academic field, clerics, artists, activists, labor leaders, political leaders to be......."

Miles Seeley comments: "I taught classes to the police and intelligence services in Jordan. My Arabic was certainly not up to the task and I used interpreters. Not ideal, but you learn how to pace things and it can work. I was told hundreds of times that the classes made a good impression on the attendees and helped to overcome the ingrained hatred of all things American that so pervaded the Palestinians- and there were a great many of them in the police and intelligence. So I think that just having the members of the Mission in Morocco show up and try, will be a great plus. I applaud the idea".

My comment: The US has been a leader in the whole gamut of public diplomacy. Even though it may not change many minds, the "targets" have more knowledge about the US. However, some people who studied in the US turn into anti-US leaders, just as some Africans and Indians who had studied in England on their return home became revolutionaries. The School of the Americas has been widely accused of producing Latin American dictators. The answer is that, without their US experience they would have been worse.

Ronald Hilton - 6/4/02