New US int’l propaganda campaign

Chris Brady cdbrady at attglobal.net
Sun Feb 17 00:08:54 MST 2002


The following is copied from the site below (please note that ABC-News
has the issue actually imbedded by name and accurately in the URL) (oh,
also it seems that “the hand that rocks the cradle” is not as important
to the spinners now as “the kids that rock on”):

 http://abcnews.go.com/sections/wnt/DailyNews/propaganda_campaign020215.html

Public Diplomacy for the MTV Generation

Bush Administration Battles Perception of the War Around the Globe
 Secretary of State Colin Powell participated in a Global Town Meeting
on MTV Thursday night, during which he took questions from young people
from around the world. (ABCNEWS.com)

 By Alice Maggin

 Feb. 15 — The United States military may have won the war against the
Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan but the battle to win over the
hearts and minds of people in the Muslim world is still raging.

 To sell the administration's message to a new audience Colin Powell,
the U.S. Secretary of State, participated in a Global Town Meeting on
MTV last night. For 90 minutes he took questions from young people in
Washington, D.C., Cairo, London, Milan, Moscow, New Delhi and São Paulo.

 Powell was scolded and admonished by young people from around the
world. A young Egyptian named Safe accused the Bush administration of
mistreating the Iraqi people. "You are punishing a regime but killing
thousands of Iraqi children by depriving them of food and aid," he
reprimanded.

 Eda, a Norwegian speaking from the MTV's London studio asked, "How do
you feel about representing a country commonly perceived as Satan of
contemporary politics?" Powell was so surprised by the question he asked
her to repeat it and responded by saying "Satan? Oh?" and then smiled at
the audience's laughter.

 After regrouping the secretary was cool and conciliatory. "The United
States has to do a better job of presenting our case of who we are, what
we are, what our value system is to the Islamic world and to nations
around the world," he admitted.

New Focus on Public Diplomacy

Powell's MTV appearance reflects a new focus by the Bush administration
since Sept. 11 on public diplomacy. Communication command centers are
running around the clock in Washington, London and Karachi, Pakistan.

"Our mission here is to take a very complicated subject, which is the
war on terrorism, and explain it to the world," said James Wilkinson,
who manages the White House war room that oversees all of the
administration efforts at public diplomacy.

The Bush team has booked more than 2000 interviews by government
officials, including a media blitz by the first lady on behalf of Afghan
women. The administration says consumer research shows the effort is
paying off.

But some analysts argue that American officials are dismissed as
propaganda peddlers.

"The question is are they a Muslim and are they an Arab? You know it
isn't so different from the United States where we would trust some
people to sell us one product more than other people," said David
Perlmutter, an author and professor of mass communications at Louisiana
State University.

He says that in authoritarian Arab societies, opinion polls are less
insightful than Internet chat rooms, which show as much anger as ever
toward America. Others insist that quiet streets tell the real story.

"You have to hear the lion that is not roaring. What is most remarkable
about the last five months is the absence of protest from most of the
Muslim world," explained Robert Satloff, who runs the Washington
Institute on Near East Policy.

But the MTV generation was skeptical. Sara, an 18-year-old student who
was in the audience at MTV's Cairo studio doesn't buy Powell's brand of
diplomacy. "Mostly it's political talk, mostly I don't believe him," she
said.

"With the Bush Administration you're never really sure what is meant,
you're never really sure what plans to be done," complained Fahd Tanzi,
also in attendance in Cairo.

The administration recognizes that it has to do more. So it will launch
the Middle East radio network within the next few months. The new
network will be mostly social and entertainment programming mixed with
what they hope will be perceived as legitimate and unbiased news.





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