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The Administration Believes Public Relations is a Synonym for Diplomacy

On Thursday the President unveiled a strategy to tackle global warming that stresses the use of new technologies but does not place a cap on harmful emissions. No surprise there, nor with the honeyed words about how serious the Bush administration takes the problem of climate change.

Bush:

In recent years, science has deepened our understanding of climate change and opened new possibilities for confronting it. The United States takes this issue seriously. The new initiative I am outlining today will contribute to the important dialogue that will take place in Germany next week. The United States will work with other nations to establish a new framework on greenhouse gas emissions for when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

And the dialogue in the run-up to the G8 summit, how is it going? Some dialogue. An official Washington statement, written in red ink and obtained by 'The Financial Times':

We [the administration] have tried to 'tread lightly' but there is only so far we can go given our fundamental opposition to the German position".

See, this seems fairly typical of an administration which believes '"public relations is a synonym for diplomacy." This is the 'sub heading' of an interesting column in 'Slate' Bush's Failed Campaign To Rebrand America by Fred Kaplan.

You've probably never heard of a State Department official named Price Floyd (I hadn't until a few days ago), but his resignation-in-protest, late last March, is as damning a commentary on President George W. Bush's foreign policies as any of the critiques from retired military officers.

He explained his reason for quitting in a little-read op-ed in the May 25 edition of the 'Fort Worth Star-Telegram' (his former hometown newspaper): Basically, he was tired of trying to convince journalists, here and abroad, "that we should not be judged by our actions, only our words."

(The op-ed continues)..This is due to several actions taken by the Bush administration, including pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol (environment), refusing to take part in the International Criminal Court (rule of law), and pulling out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (arms control). The prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib and the continuing controversy over the detainees in Guantanamo also sullied the image of America.

Collectively, these actions have sent an unequivocal message: The U.S. does not want to be a collaborative partner. That is the policy we have been "selling" through our actions, which speak the loudest of all.

In the interview and in his 'Star-Telegram' op-ed piece, Floyd called for something like a restoration of the old USIA, at least in spirit--a return to public diplomacy (as opposed to public relations), a sustained demonstration that America is about more than bombs and soldiers, a realignment of America's words and its actions.

Hey, but don't hold your breath, at least until the next inauguration day in January, 2009.


Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!

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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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