Report of the Panel Discussion: Why do they hate us? They used to love us! U.S. Public Diplomacy and Its Challenges in the Muslim World
On October 18, 2005, Dialogues: Islamic World-U.S.-The West presented "Why do they hate us? They used to love us! U.S. Public Diplomacy and Its Challenges in the Muslim World," a panel discussion at New York University. Moderated by Mustapha Tlili, the panel included Craig Charney, President of Charney Research; Farhad Kazemi, Professor of Politics and Middle Eastern Studies, Director of NYU's Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies, and member of the U.S. Advisory Group on Public Diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim World; Andras Szanto, Research Affiliate at the Princeton's Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies and former director of the National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia University, and Edward Mortimer, Director of Communications in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who participated in his personal capacity.
Mustapha Tlili began the evening by inviting the panelists and audience to reflect on the paradox inherent in the term "public diplomacy" - a term that implies the union of two seemingly contradictory concepts. The concept of diplomacy, he pointed out, evokes secrecy, discretion, and private interaction among diplomats. Yet if diplomacy becomes public, and if, in addition, it addresses the public, can it still be called diplomacy?
Tlili then raised the challenge facing the U.S. government in winning the hearts and minds of Muslims through public diplomacy. He referred to a statement in a New York Times article by Ambassador Edward Djerejian, co-chairman of the U.S. Advisory Group on Public Diplomacy, that 80% of the hostility harbored by Arabs and Muslims toward the U.S. is a result of American policies. The task of this panel, he said, would be to debate the 20% left.
Craig Charney then took the floor and described the focus groups he conducted in Egypt, Morocco, and Indonesia for the report, "A New Beginning: Strategies for a More Fruitful Dialogue with the Muslim World," prepared by Charney Research for the Council on Foreign Relations. He found that in general respondents in these countries shared American values, with strong positive feelings about democracy and admiration for the American work ethic, educational system, successes in science and technology, and the American economy. The aspects of the U.S. for which respondents expressed admiration tended to reflect those areas where they saw the need for improvement in their own societies
The problem, he noted, is that the U.S. has estranged the majority in these countries who share American values and who are not extremists. A sentiment of ambivalence in the Muslim world toward the United States has swung negative in recent years. Charney said that while he did not detect hatred toward the U.S. from these respondents, he did perceive a strong sense of alienation. Notably, he found, that respondents generally felt positive about developments in their own countries, and thus the rationale that resentment toward their own governments is being projected against the U.S. does not hold.
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Lecture by Dr. Tarek Masoud
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Co–sponsored with the Foreign Policy Association and the World Affairs Councils of America
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