Sunday, August 21, 2005

Bad Reputation

So now we're going to have special teams of propaganda SEALs to combat anti-Americanism worldwide.

For years, President Bush has called on Karen P. Hughes, his confidante from Texas, to help devise replies to attacks from political foes. Now Ms. Hughes, installed at the State Department, plans to set up "rapid response" teams to counter bad news and defend administration policies around the globe.

The teams, to be set up in the Middle East and elsewhere, are one of several initiatives being prepared by Ms. Hughes, who took office this week as under secretary of public diplomacy. The initiatives are part of what Bush administration officials say will be an aggressive drive to repair America's poor image abroad, particularly in Muslim countries.

You know what also helps with image-rebuilding in Muslim countries? Not invading them under false pretexts. Not cluster-bombing civilians. Not torturing people and taking vacation photos of your dirty deeds. That sort of thing. Very effective, believe it or not.

In fact, I believe that some guy 2000 or so years ago put it quite succinctly -- "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". Perhaps you've heard that one before.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in an interview this week that the units would "work to deal with misinformation and misinterpretation." During the war in Afghanistan, Ms. Rice said, the administration discovered that it had to rebut "all kinds of lies about what we were doing."

For instance, Ms. Rice said, the administration discovered that allegations of Koran desecration at the Guantánamo Bay detention center, particularly what turned out to be an unfounded report of a Koran being flushed down a toilet, were spread throughout the media in Muslim countries before the United States could respond.

Oh yeah, that was all wrong. We didn't try to flush a whole Qu'ran down a toilet -- it would have just clogged the pipes. There were just individual pages in the toilet. Also one got "accidentally" pissed on, through an air vent. Pretty neat trick.

But completely different from the initial allegation, which was totally false and unfounded. You can see where we're just starting in a hole here, because America-haters always want to assume the worst about us. So no toilets, just random sprays of urine. The sooner we can communicate those distinctions effectively, the better.

Personally, I blame the liberal media.

Various independent reports on the problem of public diplomacy have said that most of America's image problems stem from American policies, like the detainees at Guantánamo Bay and support for Israel.

Ms. Rice, in the interview on Wednesday, said that in the future, more weight would be given to public diplomacy in the policy-making process but that this did not mean that the United States would shut down the Guantánamo Bay detention center.

"What I don't want to imply is that we're going to change policy because it's unpopular," Ms. Rice said. "It's a hard problem. Public diplomacy isn't going to help us with the fact that there's still some hard problems that we're going to have to deal with."

Translation: the problem is not that we're leaving human beings -- who have not even been charged with a crime, mind you, much less allowed any legal representation -- chained in their own filth for days on end, or threatening them with dogs and prison rape. The problem is that the rest of the world is finding out that we're doing those things to those people.

Clearly the problem is one of letting people know what's going on. Good thing Dear Leader's crack team is on top of it all.


pseudolus said...

Codi says..."Public diplomacy isn't going to help us with the fact that there's still some hard problems that we're going to have to deal with".

And yet they are starting a program of 'public diplomacy' starring Karen Hughes. Doesn't anybody read over their past positions on the right?

Heywood J. said...

Doesn't anybody read over their past positions on the right?

Of course not. It's all down the memory hole. Consistency being the hobgoblin of small minds and all. Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

Nittacci said...

I've recently had kill some time at the main Chicago Public Library. I went to the newspaper archives and read through the major papers (NYTimes, WaPo, ChiTribune) for the three or so months leading up to the invasion of Iraq.
Reading the Bush Administration's arguments for going to war with the knowledge we've gained since was a real eye-opener. There's almost NOTHING BUT talk about 9/11 and WMDs. I even found the quote about Iraq being about 45 minutes away from launching a nuke attack.
It's too much info to put into a 30second political ad, but I wish there was a way to show the (shrinking) number of Bush supporters what I found. I just can't see how anyone could support the president faced with this information.

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