IN OTHER WORDS
Karen Hughes brought strengths to the job of public diplomacy, a critical, often overlooked tool for advancing the national interest. The under secretary of state for public diplomacy, she was an insider’s insider, a confidante from President Bush’s Texas inner circle who could speak for him authoritatively. Yet as she prepares to leave office, polls show the US is hated more than ever in the Muslim world.
Hughes’s weaknesses quickly became apparent when she took over. She had never been to the Middle East and had no expertise in the Muslim community. Her early forays to the region were embarrassing. “I am a mom, I love kids” is one phrase reflecting the folksy approach derided by the Arab media. Eventually, Hughes realised the limits of her ability to win America friends when the administration’s policies were creating new enemies every minute and even souring allies. It should be clear to anyone who is paying attention that the issue is not who has the job of public diplomat. The best hope of defusing anti-Americanism and restoring our country’s international standing lies in a renewed commitment to the values that make it great, including respect for civil liberties and international law. That will require a change of attitude, as well as personnel, much higher up — in the Oval Office. — The New York Times