October 5, 2005
KAREN HUGHES' 'IMPOSSIBLE' MISSION TO THE MIDDLE EAST
** Global media express frustration with Hughes' "lack of knowledge" about Middle East.
** Observers wary of public diplomacy led by "new image department."
** Editorialists say source of Arab "hatred" is U.S. "policies" not "values."
** Some Arab dailies hope Hughes' "closeness" to President Bush will bring a "new policy."
Outlets criticize Hughes' 'inexperience'-- Several sources agreed with Turkey's mass- appeal Milliyet that Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes is "not very experienced in diplomacy." Saudi Arabia's English-language Arab News opined Hughes was "painfully clueless" about the Middle East. Media criticized Hughes' "assumption" that "everyone in the world wants to live as Americans do." London-based Arab nationalist Al-Quds Al-Arabi advised that Hughes will find public diplomacy "totally different" than "beautifying" Bush's domestic image.
Arab commentators: 'We do not need a public relations campaign'-- Commentators echoed the view in Russia's business-oriented Kommersant that Hughes' mission was a "new PR strategy in foreign policy," and worried that Hughes' brief is to "promote U.S. policy as one might any new consumer durable." Lebanon's English-language Daily Star warned that "if Washington wants only to elucidate to us why we misunderstand American values and intentions, it should cancel the whole spectacle." Morocco's left-of-center Bayane Al-Youm called Hughes' undertaking an "impossible mission," but another observer at the same paper declared, "Practically speaking, we cannot deny that the U.S. public diplomacy campaign...will actually bear some results," however "limited and slim." Still, it remains a "major question" whether the U.S.' new public diplomacy effort "will change the Arab Islamic view."
'It's the policies, stupid'-- Several Middle East outlets contended the "problem" was "clearly not American culture or American values," but rather a "bellicose" U.S. foreign policy that has "harmed us more than at any time before." Most editorialists held that "changing policy, not dressing it up to look better" is what's required to "improve the image of the U.S. in the world." Commentators concurred with Egypt's pro-government Al-Gomhouriya that "sentiments could possibly change if the United States completely changes the way it acts." Dubai's expatriate-oriented Gulf News opined that if the administration demonstrates no "intention to change U.S. policy on Middle East issues...then it is best for Hughes to return home."
Will 'closeness to President' spur 'a new policy'?-- Analysts hoped Hughes' status as one of his "closest aides" would allow her to persuade President Bush to "amend" U.S. positions on "issues preoccupying our Arab world." London-based, pan-Arab Al-Sharq Al-Awsat urged Hughes to "say that she found in the region nations that are not hostile to the United States but wish to befriend it." In Beirut, the Daily Star asserted Hughes represents "a potentially historic new wrinkle in U.S. foreign policy" who may prompt the U.S. to "engage the world on policy."
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITOR: Jonathan P. McCarter
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 27 reports from 11 countries over September 26- October 5, 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
ITALY: "Cindy, Anti-Bush Mom Arrested In Front Of White House"
The conservative, top-circulation syndicate Quotidiano Nazionale (9/27) wrote: "In search of his lost credibility and popularity, the U.S. President has created a new image department, entrusting it to Karen Hughes, one of his closest aides. Hughes is currently making her way around Arab countries first to understand ‘Why does the entire world hate us?’ and then to explain that the Americans are not the enemies to beat. Her job is undoubtedly more difficult following a new scandal of abuses in Iraqi prisons and by the admission of a few U.S. Generals who claim that ‘Guantanamo is illegal.’ … Then if American democracy is exported with examples like the blatant arrest of the ‘courage mom’ only because she was sitting on a sidewalk, it is not hard to imagine how arduous Karen Hughes’s task of persuasion will be."
RUSSIA: "The State To Have A Rapid Reaction Unit"
Artur Blinov reported in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (9/28): “Hughes’ foreign policy debut is part of her new mission. The President’s and more recently the State Department’s image-maker, meeting with representatives of the local public, urged them to focus on what is positive in relationships with Washington, warning that the United States will react promptly to negative materials. Her audience’s reaction to the warning was mixed. Journalists and students politely listened to the American, wondering at the detailed information in her notes (which, among other things, said that Egypt is the most populous country in the region). They also said something about her work being ‘unrewarding’…. It is unclear whether Hughes will be able to overcome her main drawback on this job-she is new to foreign policy. After all, all the PR experience she has, she gained at home.”
"America Strikes Back PRwise"
Mikhail Zygar asserted in business-oriented Kommersant (9/27): "According to President George Bush’s advisor Karen Hughes, who is also the Assistant Secretary of State in charge of public diplomacy, Washington is entering a world battle of ideas. The United States, Ms. Hughes says, will develop a basically new PR strategy in foreign policy aimed at halting the spread of anti-Americanism in the world. The Assistant Secretary of State says that a rapid reaction center at the State Department will be one element of a mechanism designed to check anti-Americanism. Its first job will be to analyze a report on how the world perceives the United States. A group of experts in Congress has concluded that America’s image abroad is quite bad and may soon grow even worse."
TURKEY: "Why Do Americans Keep Coming To Turkey"
Mustafa Balbay wrote in the leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet (9/29): "We started the year 2005 with a flood of official visitors from the U.S. It seems that we’ll be ending the year with a similar flood.... The latest visitor was State Department Undersecretary Karen Hughes. All of these people are welcome, but why did they come? Each visitor talked about the PKK, said the time had come to deal with it, etc. ... During all these visits, Turkey has repeated its concerns about the huge PKK presence along the Turkey-Iraq border. U.S. officials have said they will fight against the PKK, but also presented certain demands from Turkey behind closed doors. What are these U.S. demands? In short the answer is: the same things they were demanding before March 1. The U.S. wants to expand the use of Incirlik air base; to use Turkey’s infrastructure for its regional operations; to use at least two ports on the Black Sea; and free passage from the straits in contravention of the Montreux Convention. They insist that these demands be met without approval by the Turkish Parliament. The U.S. views Turkey as an aircraft carrier in the region, and seeks to use it for its various purposes. That is why the U.S. doesn’t want Turkey to sink, or to change its course to thwart U.S. intentions."
"Bush Advisor Trying To Win Our Hearts"
Yasemin Congar opined in the mainstream daily Milliyet from Washington (9/28): “Despite her experience in domestic politics, Under Secretary of State Karen Hughes is not very experienced in diplomacy. She is in Turkey on the last stop of her tour to win the hearts of Muslims. She has been tasked to improve President Bush’s image around the world, especially in the Muslim world. Karen Hughes has worked as Bush’s advisor since his days as the Governor of Texas. Hughes coordinated Bush’s press relations, especially during his election campaigns. After three years away from the White House, Hughes started her first trip abroad in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Hughes’ visit to Ankara and Istanbul is mainly for the purpose of ‘listening and learning.’ Karen Hughes is a former TV correspondent and, with her powerful voice, she is an expert in addressing the people. She is very new, however, in the field of foreign policy and diplomacy. Press members traveling with her didn’t hesitate to mention her inexperience. According to news given by the traveling press, Hughes was given official notes to remind her that ‘Turkey is a democratic state,’ and ‘Egypt has the biggest population in the region.’ It was reflected in the American press that, due to her lack of knowledge, she couldn’t answer the question of whether she was going to meet with the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo. The Washington Post wrote that Hughes was left speechless by the question, then turned to her aid for help. Only after one of her aides whispered in her ear was she able to respond that ‘we will respect Egyptian law.’”
WEST BANK: "Who Is Distorting America's Beautiful Face?"
Daoud Sharyan commented in independent Al-Quds (9/29): "The American policy has woken up to an Arab public hatred, including in the street and the news media, toward anything American. So, in order to counter such hatred, the White House has invented a slogan under the name, ‘Improving America’s Image,’ in which dialogue with the other was reintroduced through establishing media outlets to reach out to the Arab people. Though such a campaign has been counterproductive to its goals, the U.S. has put forth more plans for administration officials, all of whom have so far ended in failure, to visit the region. The most recent of such visits have been conducted by U/S of State for Public Diplomacy, who has herself just concluded a failed trip to Egypt. In a few words, the reason for the failure is the fact that her mission is artificial, one that tries to convince the Arab street that killing tens of thousands of people in Iraq... is a noble task.... Washington [should] realize very well that a successful public relations campaign can only be achieved by taking care of the problem instead of trying to fix its outcomes."
Mahmoud Abu el-Hayja editorialized in the semi-official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (9/28): "I would like to disagree with those who argue that it is impossible for the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy, Karen Hughes, to succeed in her mission.... The success of her mission, however, is in need of courage -- courage to confront oneself, including allowing for self-criticism, review and dialogue, instead of adopting [policies] based on generalizations and dictations... Miss American Public Diplomacy and Culture should first start with Washington and the White House, including its neo-conservative officials. The problem is right there. She needs to end the control of radical ideology and extreme double-standards on American policy."
EGYPT: "U.S. Image: Beautification Or Change?"
Analyst Thana Yusuf asserted in Egypt's state-owned weekly Akhbar Al-Yaum (10/5): "Karen Hughes has come to the region to lead an 'ideological warfare,' which the U.S. president discussed in his address to the recent international summit conference held at the United Nations two weeks ago. He said that weapons alone would not help fight terrorism and that the United States should launch a war against terrorist ideology. Karen Hughes' visit to the region has projected the contradiction between both sides' positions. Americans are fearful of the spread of terrorism, while Arabs believe that the danger comes from the United States itself. Though she was behind the U.S. president's election and reelection, Karen Hughes, a very intelligent and quick-witted diplomat, has discovered that she was trying to market unwanted goods. Ahead of its visits to Egypt, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, Karen announced that she would acquaint herself with what was going on in the minds of the nations of the Middle East region, especially in light of the recent opinion polls that indicated growing anti-US sentiments in the region. All of the students, journalists, intellectuals, and politicians she had met told her that U.S. policy in Iraq and U.S. bias toward Israel are the main reasons behind the tainting of the U.S. image. They also said that the Arab street has no problem with the American people and that the problem lies in the U.S. foreign policy.... The question remains: Could Karen Hughes ask President George W. Bush to amend some U.S. positions toward issues preoccupying our Arab world in order to improve or change the U.S. image?"
"Selling An Image"
Columnist Salamah A Salamah opined in the state-owned weekly Al-Ahram (10/3): "Karen Hughes, the U.S. envoy to the Middle East and Muslim countries, clearly hopes to patch up the U.S. image. Her instructions are to promote U.S. policy as one might any new consumer durable. She hopes to overcome the hostility that Muslim and Arab nations feel toward U.S. policy--a hostility that is on a par with that felt by the United States toward Usama Bin Ladin.... What the United States should be doing is changing policy, not dressing it up to look better.... The Americans should offer deeds, not words.... We have not seen the Americans lift a finger to make the Gaza withdrawal part of the roadmap. We have not seen the Americans do anything to ensure the creation of a Palestinian state.... The United States bid to overthrow the Syrian regime is far from helpful. The Americans claim to be spreading democracy and freedom in the region when what they are doing is spreading chaos. This is the picture we see in the region.... We notice the harassment that millions of Muslim Americans had to deal with. We notice the indefinite detention of hundreds of suspects in Guantanamo. We notice the horrors committed in Abu Ghraib. We notice things that no one--not even Hughes--can justify."
"Failure Of New Look Attempt"
Dr. Sana Al-Sa'id declared in the Cairo-based opposition paper Al-Wafd (10/1): "The tour of American Public Relations Expert Karen Hughes to the region has failed. The Bush administration thought that through this tour it can change the standards and establish a new equation to produce a new look that can hide its ugly image. The image of the United States will definitely change if it fulfilled an effective role in the Palestinian issue, restored the rights of the Palestinian people, and implemented the proposal it made and called 'the road map.' The image of the United States will change if it embraced international legitimacy as the basis of international relations and forced Israel to withdraw from the Arab territories.... The Bush administration does not realize that improving the image of the United States cannot take place through public relations campaigns but by changing policies and actions on the ground, which have condemned the Bush administration of carrying out war crimes. The United States does not need to market its idiotic policy but to change it. Therefore, it was natural that the tour of Karen Hughes in the region was not successful."
"An American Face-Lift ... In Cairo"
Muhammad Ali Ibrahim commented in the pro-government, small circulation daily Al-Gomhouriya (9/26): "We in Egypt or anywhere else do not need a public relations campaign such as the one being orchestrated by the United States. The Egyptians, the Saudis, and the Turks will not love the United States all of a sudden just because it established a television or a radio channel (Sawa radio and Al-Hurrah television). However, sentiments could possibly change if the United States completely changes the way it acts."
SAUDI ARABIA: "Of Missions And Missionaries"
Fawaz Turki opined in Jedda's English-language daily Arab News (10/5): "If all the world's a stage, then what's playing on it is America as morality play. And the painfully clueless Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes, who visited the Middle East last week to promote what is now called 'public diplomacy' -- the use of culture to foster goodwill toward the U.S. -- was drama director. The problem here is not American popular culture -- beloved and emulated everywhere -- or even American political culture, imbued with the richest ideas about freedom, democracy, and individual rights, ideas embraced by a people who, since 1776, had valued diversity and openness in their lives, and continue to expect candor and accountability from their elected officials. The problem rather is American foreign policy, that remains, where it is not bellicose, overtly and unabashedly moralistic in tone. Unless you live like us, they seem to be saying, yours is an inferior species of social formation. Thus, Americans refuse to believe, say, Saudi Arabians, Egyptians and Indonesians when these folks explain that they are not advancing the notion that the American system is bad, just that it is bad for, or incompatible with, their culture and traditions.... Let the record show that no one has identified the gushy Hughes as an "ugly American," just an inane one. The source of anti-American attitudes...is clearly not American culture or American values, but, as Edward P. Djereijan...'It's the policies, stupid.'"
"Will They Understand What Hughes Will Convey?"
Chief editor Turki Bin-Abdallah al-Sudayri remarked in in the conservative Al-Riyadh (10/4): "The dialogue between Hughes and the Saudi women showed that there is wide gulf between the U.S. understanding of the nature of eastern societies and the real concepts and convictions of these societies. For instance, the meaning and nuances of the terms rights, freedom, and democracy are not the same in all places and societies. Here I am not saying governments or religious bodies, but societies in general which naturally may accept or reject these terms. In fact, societies give these terms their own special substance.... Obviously, there is a difference between our concepts and the Americans'. At their meeting with Karen Hughes, the Saudi female students and professionals expressed this difference eloquently and demonstrated deep pride in their society, something that amazed Karen Hughes. Given this difference in social concepts, it comes as no surprise the U.S.' bewilderment and concern over the events in the Middle East and the possibilities that developments in Iraq might spread and result in popular uprisings in the northern Arab region from Lebanon to Iran."
"Karen Hughes And Lessons Learned"
Riyadh's moderate Al-Jazirah (10/2) editorialized: "The Saudi women, whom Hughes met at Dar Al-Hekma College in Jeddah, rejected the principle of foreign intervention in domestic affairs. The attendees rejected any allegations that they were deprived of their rights. Hughes said that the U.S. image can’t be changed by diplomacy only. It is clear that American policies have destroyed the U.S. image. Has U.S. diplomacy benefited from Hughes’ tour in the region? The answer is no, especially after listening to the remarks by Secretary of State Rice, in front of the Woodrow Wilson Institute, about the conviction of the U.S. administration to impose democracy and American values even by use of force."
"Rotten Product And Ignorant Salesperson"
Chief Editor Abd Al-Bari Atwan wrote in London-based, Arab nationalist Al-Quds Al-Arabi (10/1): "For the U.S. administration to entrust Mrs. Karen Hughes, U.S. assistant secretary of state, with conducting a tour of three major countries in the Middle East, namely Egypt, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, to correct its image and attempt to decrease the intensity of hatred toward it, means that this administration admits that it is hated and its image is bad. Unfortunately, it has selected the wrong person as well as the wrong implements to do so. Mrs. Hughes is not well versed in Middle Eastern affairs, although she had brought with her an aide of Arab extraction. Her experience is restricted to her closeness to President Bush when she worked as his media secretary. Her duties included beautifying his image for American public opinion and building bridges with the American media. Beautifying President Bush's face for the American citizen is one thing; marketing his bloody foreign policy to the Arabs and Muslims is something totally different, especially at this point in time where many agree that marketing this policy has failed even within the American institutions themselves.... Perhaps the most important thing that can be deduced from her tour and the statements she made on its sidelines is that the U.S. administration is no longer enthusiastic about pushing democratic reforms in the Arab region, or rather, it has pulled back on them at least temporarily.... The U.S. administration has begun to revert to its previous firm standards that it followed for 50 years in the Arab region, that is to turn a blind eye to the absence of freedom and to human rights violations so long as the ruling regimes are combating terrorism or America's new enemies (the old ones being the Soviets) and normalizing economic and political relations with the Hebrew state.... If democratic reforms are realized in a state like Egypt, it would mean the election of a nationalistic government at the top of whose agenda would be canceling the normalization process. It would review the already signed economic and political agreements with the Hebrew state, in preparation for their cancellation in one go or gradually. Democracy is the exact opposite of normalization in the Arab region.... Nevertheless, what we want to say is that the problem does not lie in the salesman (that is Mrs. Hughes) but in the product that is being sold. In the American case, the two crises complement each other: the product is rotten and the salesman is ignorant. To begin with, the salesman does not know the target clients well, and in addition, he is convinced that his rotten products are good and can be marketed. Herein lies the huge catastrophe."
"Women In Black"
Jeddah's English-language pro-government Saudi Gazette (10/1) editorialized: "The recent visit to Saudi Arabia by Karen Hughes to talk to a gathering of 500 Saudi women in Jeddah appears to have caught the senior Bush administration official off guard.... Hughes appears to have predicated her presentation on the assumption everyone in the world wants to live as Americans do and was clearly bemused to find not everyone present agreed with her. The New York Times reported that when she said she hoped Saudi women would soon be allowed to drive and fully participate in society one of those present riposted with the statement that although the general image of Arab women was that they were downtrodden the reality is that they were pretty happy a claim, according to the Time, that brought resounding applause..... Saudis, in common with other Muslims, want to enjoy the technological benefits of the modern age while retaining their religious and cultural identity. They want progress without the associated social ills that bedevil so many economically developed countries. It doesn't seem an unreasonable point of view and certainly this matter is of special concern to women who are largely responsible for the day-to-day raising of children.... Islamic values may not accord with the prevailing attitudes in places such the United States but then why should they? The West's obsession with, to use the Times phrase, women in black (abayas) and car driving trivializes a much more complex range of issues."
"On Hughes' Mission And The Shaky Image Of The United States"
Former Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Mahir asserted in London-based, pan-Arab, Saudi-owned Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (9/30): "Mrs. Hughes has chosen--or has been delegated--to come to us while knowing that her country does not enjoy any popularity in the region even among its friends or among those who do not wish to antagonize it. Therefore, it is our duty to outline to her our views on the situation in Iraq and Palestine and our stand on the issue of nuclear disarmament as samples of stands that can make the United States - if it were to change its positions on these issues - more balanced, more just, and more wise and thus change its negative image.... Hopefully she will return to Washington to say that she found in the region nations that are not hostile to the United States but wish to befriend it. Hopefully, she will realize that the obstacle lies in the U.S. policies that conflict with right and justice and that contravene the very principles advocated by the United States that has lost its credibility internally and externally. The American people and the peoples in the region agree on and have the same wish. They wish to end the current state of affairs, to march forward together to build a better future for everyone, and to oppose the destructive currents many of which are centered in the corridors of power in Washington."
"Between Appreciation Of The Kingdom's Efforts And Improving Its Image"
Dammam's moderate Al-Yaum (9/29) editorialized: "The American appreciation for the Kingdom’s positions in general and those related to combating of terrorism in particular reflects the importance of Saudi efforts to fight this hideous phenomenon... Therefore, it was not
strange at all for the Undersecretary of the U.S. Department of State, Karen Hughes, to visit Saudi Arabia to meet with King Abdullah and Crown Prince Sultan... As well, it was not strange at all that the American official acknowledged that the Kingdom itself was also a
victim of terrorism, which reflects a major change in American public opinion, especially after the unfortunate events of September 11... It is true that the primary purpose of the American envoy’s tour is to improve the image of the U.S. in the world, but it also shows an American wisdom that it is wrong to generalize ... especially in the Middle East."
"The American Dream"
Hani Wafa wrote in the conservative Al-Riyadh (9/26): "If it so wishes, the United States can make Ms. Hughes's mission easier than it is. It can help her in surmounting the obstacles that she expects and that might make her long-range task a hard one. The United States can do so by changing its foreign policies. This is especially true in the Arab and Muslim worlds where many continue to admire the American way of life but cannot openly avow this because U.S. policies force them to conceal their feelings and U.S. conduct causes them embarrassment."
LEBANON: "Humility Should Be Part Of Hughes' Brief"
Rami Khouri commented in the English-language Daily Star (9/14): "Hughes and her public diplomacy department represent a potentially historic new wrinkle in U.S. foreign policy, which is badly in need of new ideas and directions. If Washington really wants to engage the world on policy, values and our children's common future, we should all respond enthusiastically and help nudge the U.S. out of its unilateral military approach to promoting global peace and security. If Washington wants only to elucidate to us why we misunderstand American values and intentions, it should cancel the whole spectacle before it wastes time and money and generates more resentment."
MOROCCO: "Karen Hughes' Impossible Mission"
Remarks reportedly made on-line (web site unclear) by Mohamed Habib, Deputy Grand Master of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, as reprinted in left-of-center Arabic daily Bayane Al Youm (9/27): "I believe that U.S. diplomacy is undertaking an impossible, or quasi-impossible mission, because Washington has stepped on all international principles and laws. The U.S. has imposed a law of the jungle. It has invaded Afghanistan under the pretext of fighting terrorism, and has occupied Iraq following false charges of WMD--and is blindly supporting Israel.... Americans call for democracy and respect for human rights, while they violate those same rights at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib."
"U.S. Public Diplomacy At Stake"
Nour el Yaqin Bensliman wrote in left-of-center Arabic daily Bayane Al Youm (9/26): "The major question is whether this new U.S. (PD) strategy will change the Arab Islamic view.... Americans are fully aware of the amount of animosity felt by peoples around the world towards this administration.... In the Arab world, animosity towards America has increased as a result of U.S. policy in the Middle East and its support of Israel without any consideration or respect for violated Arab rights.... Practically speaking, we cannot deny that the U.S. public diplomacy campaign will not be without any impact, and will actually bear some results, but which will be limited and slim. The U.S. administration understands that and does understand the reasons. The improvement of America’s image in the Arab world is an achievable dream, but it will be by the strength of new behavior and a convincing act, and not by the force of technology, which history has proved cannot overcome people's determination.”
QATAR: "Hughes And The Difficult Mission"
An unsigned editorial in the independent, Doha-based Al-Sharq (9/28) contended: "Perhaps the fundamental issue that escapes the White House administration, as it strives to chart a new policy and rebuild bridges of confidence with the Arab world, is that it does not realize what the region needs and what it expects from the Untied States. We do not need a public relations campaign or image-improving process from Washington as much as we need a change in its policy, which has harmed us more than at any time before. Owing to this policy, we have paid a heavier price than other peoples have. The absence of change in U.S. policy in particular condemns Hughes in her first test as she embarks on her first tour of the region and judges her mission as doomed to failure before she completes it.... It would have been more worthwhile if Hughes had spoken more boldly and responsibly about her country's mistakes, and if she had unveiled new initiatives to bridge the wide gulf between the Arab and Muslim world and the Untied States. Her tour would have provided a real opportunity for serious and constructive dialogue to build a better future for both parties, a future that adopts the language of dialogue and understanding rather than the language of guns and tanks, particularly because the peoples of the region are ready to open a new chapter with Washington based on understanding, respect for specificities, and abstention from imposing orders whether with regard to democracy or reforms."
UAE: "Winning Hearts And Minds In The Arab World"
Maggie Mitchell Salem commented in the Dubai-based, English-language daily Gulf News (10/1): "To win Arab hearts and minds, Hughes should consider deploying her diplomats at home, not just abroad.... Even a modest effort will earn huge dividends in the market she's charged with conquering: the Arab world. She can demonstrate that she really was listening when those she met raised the issue of American misperceptions. There's not much she can do about their foreign policy grievances. As every poll from Pew to Zogby has amply demonstrated, Arabs don't 'hate us for our values', but for our policies. In fact, there is widespread frustration that our actions don't reflect our values. Simply put, they wish we'd do a better job of practicing what we preach. Or preach a lot less."
"Hughes Thwarted At The Outset"
An unsigned editorial in the Dubai-based, English-language daily Gulf News (9/28) opined: "Hughes is visiting Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey but seems unsure as to who should be doing the listening. Is it her job to listen to what the Middle East is saying of the U.S., she may wonder? Or for these 'soft target' Middle Eastern countries to listen to what the U.S. wants to tell them. A U.S. official is already on record as saying it is not their intention to change U.S. policy on Middle East issues. Which poses the question: So why is Hughes on her visit? Anyone who has even a limited understanding of events in the Middle East can spell out loud and clear exactly what aggrieves people in the Middle East with regard to the U.S. It is their policy. Therefore, if the avowed intent prior to Hughes visit is for 'no change, steady as we go' then it is best for Hughes to return home."
"The Miracle Of Improving America's Image"
An unsigned editorial in Sharjah Al-Khalij (9/27) remarked: "What can Karen Hughes, the envoy of U.S. President George W. Bush to certain regional capitals, do to render her mission to improve the image of the U.S. administration successful after all it has committed against regional countries? ... Failure will be the inevitable result as long as the Bush administration wants to continue to deceive and blackmail Arabs until the region becomes hostage to the policy of hegemony... It is impossible for the mission of Karen Hughes or any other U.S. envoy to succeed. They come to sell a policy that cannot be glamorized even if all cosmetics of the world were to be used."
MEXICO: "Public Diplomacy"
Academic Gabriela de la Paz asserted in independent El Norte (9/28): "The Middle East is a strategic region for the United States. Not only because of its enormous oil reserves, but because its conflicts have had a transcendence that touches the streets of New York and the centers of decision-making in the Potomac area. On one side there is Israel, and support to a Washington ally in the time of the Cold War, when that country represented the only democracy in the region. On the other hand, and what the BBC considers is the reason of Karen Hughes' trip to the region, is the increasing terrorism in the societies that have open links with the West. The fear, perhaps, is that for many residents of these countries the U.S. is the real threat and not Osama bin Laden.... These are countries that find themselves in a debate between the road to modernity and its values, and the Islamic tradition, one that some interpret as a rejection of the West.... Diplomacy is a tool used by the states to conduct their foreign policy and is associated with dialogue and negotiations. It is the principal medium of a state's communication and it is through diplomacy that points of view are exchanged and a more profound contact is sought. For this reason there are news agencies and cultural works done by embassies and consulates."
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