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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 29, 2005 / 18 Adar II, 5765

Cheer Up, Karen Hughes. Your Job Is Not Quite Impossible

By Jonathan Rauch


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Dear Karen Hughes,

On March 14, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced your nomination as undersecretary of State for public diplomacy and public affairs. "The time has come to look anew at our institutions of public diplomacy," Rice said. Translation: You need to figure out how to make the rest of the world hate us less. Two previous holders of your job resigned, and the post has been vacant since last summer. Congratulations. You have the worst job in Washington.

Fortunately for you, I am here to cheer you up. Read on, and prepare to be inspired.

The state of world public opinion of America is not bad. It is awful. "Anti-Americanism is deeper and broader now than at any time in modern history," says the Pew Global Attitudes Project, in the Pew Research Center's new Trends 2005 report. The Islamic world is especially hostile. "Muslims see American policies as inimical to their values, American rhetoric about freedom and democracy as hypocritical, and American actions as deeply threatening," reported the Defense Science Board Task Force on Strategic Communication [PDF] in September.

Cheerful yet? No? Then you might take a look at Europe. When I first read claims that European regard for America had reached unprecedented depths, I was skeptical. President Reagan appalled right-thinking (read: left-leaning) Europeans, and his insistence on stationing Pershing missiles in Europe set the continent aflame with outrage. Is today's situation really worse?

Apparently it is, at least in France and Germany. Since at least 1981, the U.S. government has polled people in Britain, France, Germany, and Italy about their confidence in America's ability to deal responsibly with world affairs. In late 2003, narrow majorities of Brits and Italians expressed confidence in the United States; but confidence among the French (27 percent) and Germans (32 percent) was indeed even lower than during the Reagan depths. When people in those countries were asked how favorably they viewed the U.S. in general, the pattern was the same.

Still not cheerful? Consider, then, another data point: China — yes, repressive, aggressive Communist China — is now more highly regarded in the world than is the United States. A pair of recent BBC World Service polls of more than 20 countries finds that the plurality of respondents (47 percent to 38 percent) and of countries (15 out of 21) regard America's influence in the world as "mainly negative." A plurality of respondents (48 percent to 30 percent) and of countries (17 of 21, excluding the U.S.) regard Chinese influence in the world as "mainly positive."

Why the sharp turn against America? Not just because President Bush is personally unpopular abroad; Pew notes that world opinion of America did not plunge until 2003, well after Bush's election. Nor, Pew finds, is the trans-Atlantic values gap wider today than it was in the early 1990s. Rather, says Pew, "in the eyes of others, the U.S. is a worrisome colossus," quick to throw its weight around and selfish in its aims. In a 2003 Pew survey, majorities in seven of eight predominantly Muslim nations (including Turkey) said they regard America as a potential military threat to their own country. In a Eurobarometer poll of European Union nations in 2003, respondents placed America on a par with Iran as a threat to world peace. Pew finds that in France, Germany, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, and Turkey, many people believe that America's real goal in the war on terror is not to reduce terrorism but to dominate the world.

In other words, the problem is not so much that foreigners hate the American people (most don't) or dislike American policies (though many do); it's that they fear America's unrivaled power. The Iraq war seems to have operated on world opinion as a catalytic event, arousing foreign alarm at American power much as 9/11 catalyzed America's alarm over Islamist jihadism. What seems to be happening, says Steven Kull, the director of the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes, is not just a reaction against the United States, but also a realignment of world opinion toward other centers of power. This rebalancing can be managed, but whether it can be undone is an open question.

So the environment you enter, Ms. Hughes, is deeply skeptical of American intentions. If that doesn't make you feel ebullient, pause to ponder the sorry state of your toolbox.

After the Cold War ended, America whacked its global public-relations efforts. Funding today is "substantially less in real terms than public diplomacy budgets during the Cold War," says the Defense Science Board task force; the total is one-quarter of 1 percent of the military budget.

"We goofed, in my opinion — we thought we were done telling our story to the world," says one U.S. official with overseas experience. He points to Thailand, where the United States shut down its Thai-language magazine, closed American libraries, and cut the number of cultural-affairs and information officers from as many as 18 to just three or four.

"I think what's fair to say is, there's a growing understanding of why [public diplomacy] matters," the official says of the Bush administration. "What we have not seen is the real restoration of resources to turn this around." That is not to say that nothing has been done. Reports have been written. Many reports. Since 2001, at least 15 private and congressional reports have called for the reform of U.S. public diplomacy. "But so far," says the Defense Science Board task force, "these concerns have produced no real change."

I see that my encouragement so far has not produced the desired effect. Before you shoot yourself, consider this:

In November and December, the German Marshall Fund of the United States found majorities in France and Germany saying that it was undesirable for the United States to take a strong role in world affairs, and also that Europe should operate more independently of the United States. The news, however, was that those anti-American majorities were smaller than in the past. "French and German desire to work with the United States actually increased slightly following the U.S. presidential election," the fund reported. "If anything, damage to the trans-Atlantic relationship appears to be showing the first signs of recovery."

The recent trips to Europe by Bush and Rice seem to have improved matters further. "There are still strong anti-Bush feelings, but even those were tempered somewhat by his visit to Europe," Craig Kennedy, the German Marshall Fund president, said in an interview after returning recently from Germany. "You know what Bush did really, really well on this trip? He showed he could listen to Europeans."

To them, this was a novel concept. In his first term, Bush demonstrated the worst ear for international public diplomacy since — well, since ever, come to think of it. For Europeans, just having him come and pay attention was a shock. "When you have someone coming to you and listening to you and trying to make nice, it pays," said Justin Vaisse, a French historian of trans-Atlantic relations, in a phone interview from his office at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques in Paris. "It was certainly a success."

The success of the Iraqi election in January was a further jolt to Europe. "I think people were shocked by the size of the turnout, by the obvious passion for democracy, and also by the small number of deaths," Kennedy says. "Based on that, Iraq is off to a pretty good start, and Europeans noticed that."

It also did not escape the attention of either the Bush administration or the Europeans that trans-Atlantic cooperation has achieved striking results in Ukraine and Lebanon. The administration has recently begun working more closely with Europeans to end Iran's nuclear weapons program. "It's not a new era, but it is a new phase," Vaisse says. The second-term Bush is still Bush, "but with new methods and more pragmatism. It's much easier to work with this second administration."

One swallow does not make spring, but the good news is this: Bush appears to have gone from ignoring foreign opinion to actively (if inconsistently) cultivating it; and he seems not half bad at the job, when he puts his mind to it. Just as important, foreign opinion has responded, at least in Europe. If the warming trends hold, Bush may be able to replace the downward spiral of his first term with an upward one in his second.

Now, don't get too cheerful, Ms. Hughes. The man who in 2004 seized upon his opponent's use of the phrase "global test" to mock the very idea of multilateralism will not change his spots in 2005. But he may change his tactics. He can be offensive to foreign sensibilities, but he can also be charming, as he proved in Europe. Your job, Ms. Hughes, is to encourage his charm offensive.

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JWR contributor Jonathan Rauch is a senior writer and columnist for National Journal. Comment by clicking here.

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