DEFENSE DEPARTMENT

Renewed Calls to Privatize Public Diplomacy

9/1/2008
By Sandra I. Erwin

The U.S. military took a public relations beating when one of its PR
contractors paid Iraqi newspapers to print propaganda disguised as news
stories. That unfortunate experience, however, has not discouraged
advocates of the privatization of public diplomacy.

“Government alone cannot do this,” said Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas,
at a Heritage Foundation conference. “A private, self-sustaining center
outside of government can help.” Panelists Jeff Jones of Booz Allen
Hamilton, and Michael Doran, deputy assistant secretary of defense,
suggested that the government should boost “strategic communications”
efforts within the State Department, but there was much talk of
privatization.

James Dickmeyer, director of the foreign press center at the State
Department, noted that both the State and Defense Departments have been
fumbling the diplomacy ball, unsure of who needs to do what in terms of
strategic communications. “We’re tripping all over ourselves in
Washington.”

Topics: Government Policy, International

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