Monday, April 23rd 2012
I had an opportunity recently to meet Tara Sonenshine, the newly appointed Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, and I came away both impressed and hopeful that she will bring a fresh, informed perspective to this important position.
We certainly need it.
The United States seems to have more than its share of image problems these days, from the Secret Service scandal in Colombia and the partying and flagrant disregard for the taxpayer’s dollar by the General Services Administration, to the latest batch of embarrassing photos to emerge from the Afghanistan battlefield.
All of these are public diplomacy problems in the sense that they conspicuously contradict the values of anti-corruption and human rights that we embrace for ourselves and advocate for others. So when we fall short, everybody notices.
Most Americans aren’t surprised by that. We know we’re far from perfect, and we’re also a nation that believes in forgiveness and second chances. (For proof of that, just look at our politicians.) But because of our history, our achievements, and, let’s face it, our occasional lecturing to others, we’re sometimes held to impossibly high standards.
The most surprising example of this that I ever experienced occurred in, of all places, Iran.Read More