Reaching a wider audience (above: a cat listens to the live broadcast of the BBC Today Programme on Radio 4 at the British base in Basra Palace, 2006)

Thursday, 22 May 2008

"Rice urges Arabs to support Palestinians"...should she?

OK so it is not just the celebrities doing the patronising finger wagging. You would think Condi Rice would be better versed in public diplomacy (it was pretty public, right? She didn’t take “the Arabs” aside and have a quiet word in their shell likes?) Did anyone else feel slightly uncomfortable this week when the great lady herself sent a “strong message” to the Arab world on increasing their support to the Palestinians? If the objective of the statement was to show folk’s back home that the US are “doing something” then I guess a few voters might have been convinced. As with my Clooney rant (below) I am not convinced that this form of pressure is going to inspire the honouring of financial pledges – in fact I think it will damage US-Middle Eastern relations further (No! How so?)

I can’t help thinking that the US should be removed entirely from the whole brokering peace in the middle east thing. As Morgan Spurlock has found out lately, Americans are not exactly popular round them parts (no shit, Sherlock). They are hardly viewed as impartial - last week Rice stressed that "America's commitment to Israel is unwavering" and it has been for 60 years. And the whole 60 year thing is something that should send Britain’s crusading Mr Blair scurrying for cover - yes remember them terrorist Irgun what bombed the King David Hotel? (OK pedants I know that was 62 years ago), let alone delving deeper to Balfour’s was him what started it wasn't it? Just a polite suggestion – like Rice, perhaps Blair isn’t the best man for the job?

Is this causing anyone else to cringe….? Someone give them some effective public diplomacy advice, please.


Brendan said...

In a tangenital way I touched on why America (and its lap dog - Britain) can't expect to succeed in brokering peace, understanding and a 'following' amongst ordinary people for their Foreign Policy objectives in my blog just last night (not a shameless plug I assure you!). I was surprised therefore to hop over here and find your blog which echoes some of those sentiments.

America has to re-define itself before it can ever be taken seriously again on the world stage by the ordinary people of other nation states. In the battle for hearts and minds American foreign policy can and will get other govt's on board (through economic arm wrestling) but they won't get the ordinary folks on board, I posit that they won't even get their own citizens to 'believe' what they are doing is the right thing, for the right reasons at the right time.

We need a strong, principled and in some ways idealised America striding the world stage and the current govt there have undermined all of those. They are as you suggest, at present, an embarrassment.

Ben (Ozscot)

Caroline Jaine said...

Thanks Ben - another word often used for public diplomacy is "nation branding" - and I think the US could do with having a complete "rebranding". Maybe with Obama this is possible?