Thursday :: Oct 12, 2006

Making Friends

by Mary

Last year Bush asked his longtime advisor, Karen Hughes, to take on the mission of improving the United States image overseas -- particularly with Muslims.

Through exchange programs, foreign language media and other initiatives, the public diplomacy campaign aims to promote American values of democracy, tolerance and pluralism abroad while combating negative images propagated in many parts of the world. The State Department spent $685 million on public diplomacy in 2004, but critics complain that it has not been increased enough since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and that most of it has not targeted the Muslim world.

And at the same time, Bush's administration funds overseas programs that discriminate against Muslims unless they convert to Christianity.

Edward Djerejian, a former US diplomat involved in efforts to improve the American image among Muslims, said he has never encountered a Christian program in a Muslim area that excludes Muslims.

Djerejian said the US government should support programs that "promote coexistence" between Muslims and Christians and that don't have a separate agenda of advancing Christianity.

...But Martin Mutuku , program manager for Partners in Nairobi who oversees Fullscale and other affiliates, made it clear that including Muslims is not a part of his vision.

"We started this to help Christian business people to grow their businesses," he said. "We are using this as a vehicle to spread the word. So if they want to join, they may have to convert."

Needless to say, the US continues to lead the world by demonstrating what it means to be a democratic, tolerant and pluralistic society. One wonders what Karen Hughes thinks about the chances of successfully meeting the goals of her mission when she has such good allies in the administration.

Mary :: 8:10 PM :: Comments (6) :: Digg It!