Monday, December 01, 2008

Educating, engaging, and empowering our citizens at home and abroad...

A new Brookings Institution report, Voices of America: U.S. Public Diplomacy for the 21st Century, proposes a variety of initiatives that will help to reestablish the U.S.A. as a positive force in the world. Coupled with the appointment of Barack Obama's new National Security Team, a new day is dawning. On the National Security Team, the headline in the LA Times says it all, "Obama stresses diplomacy with new national security team." Portraying the team as a renewal of diplomacy is reinforced by the fact that two of the seven new Security Team members have a relationship to the Brookings Institution; Rice (new Ambassador to the U.N) is a former Brookings Institution affiliate and Jones (new National Security Advisor) served on the Advisory Board noted in the "Voices of America" report.

President Bush's admission that the thing he wasn't prepared for was going to war sheds more direct light on the problem that the U.S.A. now faces. In the interview with Charlie Gibson, Bush declined to express regret for the faulty intelligence information that led to the war in Iraq but expressed satisfaction in his, "Recognizing we're in a war against ideological thugs and keeping America safe." Constructing the world as a battle against the "axes of evil" and a "war against ideological thugs" will be difficult to undo. However, The Brookings Institution report and Obama's appointment of a diplomacy-oriented security team is the beginning of the long road back to the principles that world-citizens admire about the U.S.A. A period of deep listening is ahead and my hope is that this results in realigning the U.S.A. with the needs of the world. The admonition that the U.S.A. must move forward by "educating, engaging, and empowering our citizens at home and abroad..." tapped one of the most important resources the U.S.A. has. Those of us abroad can listen carefully and we can demonstrate the eagerness of the U.S.A. to be a force for peace and prosperity in the world.

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