-- Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public
Affairs Karen Hughes expressed confidence November 4 that
the ideals of freedom would prevail over extremists bent
on cloaking the murder of innocents with the mantle of religion.
Hughes addressed a luncheon honoring the
10th anniversary of the Washington-based Women’s Foreign
Policy Group (WFPG), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization
that promotes global engagement and the leadership, visibility
and participation of women in international affairs.
The under secretary described a three-point
strategic vision for prevailing in the conflict. First is
the communication of a "positive vision of hope rooted
in our belief in freedom and opportunity for all."
Citing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s
"very significant" June 20 address at American
University, Cairo, Hughes asserted that never before have
democracy and human rights been as central to U.S. diplomacy.
(See related article.)
Acknowledging that the pace of change differs
in each nation, the under secretary nevertheless discerned
"fresh winds of reform and change" in nations
as diverse as Morocco, Kuwait, Ukraine and Georgia, as well
as Iraq, where citizens defied terrorist threats to cast
their ballots in free elections.
"People everywhere want to be heard,"
said Hughes. "They want to have their opinions count.
They want to participate in their society. They want to
live in freedom."
The second facet of U.S. public diplomacy,
said Hughes, is an effort to isolate and marginalize the
extremists by exposing their efforts "to appropriate
religion in the name of their violent agenda." Noting
that terrorists and insurgents in Iraq indiscriminately
kill their fellow Muslims, Hughes declared that the murder
of innocents never is justified.
The third strategic pillar, the under secretary
said, is to foster "a sense of common interest and
common purpose between Americans and people of different
countries, cultures and faiths throughout the world."
People the world over, she asserted, want
a quality education, economic opportunity and a better life
for their children.
Creating such a sense of common interests
and value, Hughes said, requires a humble approach. Public
diplomacy therefore must be as much about listening, she
said, as speaking.
As part of listening to voices in other
societies, Hughes has directed U.S. embassies to set up
meetings with citizens of other nations, young people especially.
She said that what is heard will “help inform both
our policy and the way we communicate our policy.”
The United States’ mission, Hughes
said, is to create a climate in which the peoples of the
world could give competing ideas a fair hearing and make
a free choice. She expressed confidence they would choose
freedom over tyranny, tolerance over extremism, diversity
over rigid conformity and justice over injustice.
Hughes pledged to seek such a climate through
what she called the “four E’s”: engage,
exchange, educate and empower.
Engage, she said, calls for public diplomacy
to advocate American ideas of freedom, and swift responses
to disinformation in an age of Internet, satellite television
and instant communication.
Exchange, the under secretary said, involves
the international exchange programs that are the United
States’ most successful public diplomacy tools. She
promised to encourage more Americans to study and travel
abroad and also to bring more people to the United States,
where they can see a "generous and hard-working people
who value family and faith."
Education, said Hughes, is the path to upward
mobility for boys and girls the world over. She challenged
Americans to become "better citizens of the world,”
not least by mastering more languages as a tool to learn
more about other countries and cultures. She praised Secretary
Rice’s work toward formulating a strategic languages
initiative to encourage American youth in this direction.
Empowerment, Hughes told her predominantly
female audience, is of particular importance to women in
the Arab world, whom a recent United Nations report depicted
as “severely marginalized.” Societies that neglect
the capabilities of their female population, the report
said, cripple half their potential.
Hughes explained how empowering citizen
ambassadors has proven particularly important in cases where
the voices of American officials might not be effective
and offered examples from her recent travels. She pledged
to create a robust citizen ambassador program that will
allow individual Americans to "share their unique stories
and skills," and to help partner American women with
women around the world.
President Bush, Hughes related, has expressed
his belief that women will prove a great force for change
in the Middle East.
Hughes promised to continue to build the
“shared connections” that bring together people
who want to live in peace and freedom.
information is available on the Web site of the Women’s
Foreign Policy Group.
Michael Jay Friedman
Washington File Staff Writer