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Communication Problems with Pakistan

This New York Times video segment is a few months old, but it’s worth watching for how relevant it is today. It details how the U.S. has demonstrated a total inability to effectively communicate with the Pakistani public. The opinion there of U.S. foreign policy is at rock-bottom, conspiracy theories are rife and militant Glenn Beck-esque figures are widely hailed as rock stars. Senior U.S. figures like Hillary Clinton and Richard Holbrooke have not helped matters via P.R. blunders and a kind of naivety about Pakistani society that translates into suspicion and distrust. In the face of all of this, I don’t understand why public diplomacy efforts aren’t rocketed up as a strategic priority in the area. Pakistanis consume American brands and technologies with hardly a blink of the eye – if the U.S. has this kind of marketing prowess in the private sector why can’t we apply it to the public one?


Embassy Sites Need Revamp

I randomly decided to check out the U.S. Embassy in Egypt’s website. It looks functional and not really different than any embassy website I’ve visited…but that’s the problem. In a region where U.S. foreign policy is generally unfavored or misunderstood, shouldn’t there be a “full court press” effort to create a really engaging, interactive site that represents the dynamic and creative society that’s present in this country? This site just seems totally stale and unimaginative. How about we put the legions of graphic designers, artists, creative thinkers and marketing wizards at our disposal to create a 21st century site in every country that’s a priority to American interests? But hey, at least the Egypt site is advertising the Rat Pack Tribute Show (with showgirls dancers) – hmm, perfect use of our public diplomacy budget!