Quite simply, Ms. Hughes op-ed in today’s Washington Post is very revealing. After throwing out stats of falling support of AQ, she has this one money paragraph:
Al-Qaeda’s growing Internet propaganda activities glorify violence and seek to exploit local grievances, from political oppression to a lack of economic opportunities. In contrast, America’s public diplomacy programs are engaging young people constructively, through English-language teaching, educational exchanges, music and sports diplomacy.
Ordinarily the “money” paragraph would be where the writer nails the opposition. Here, she’s showing her cards. She doesn’t feel a need to attack AQ’s “glorification of violence” or counter the local grievances that OBL is effectively exploiting. No, she believes young people are the only answer.
As one woman in Algeria put it, “They are criminals who want to sabotage the country.” That’s a message bin Laden’s words don’t convey, but his actions do. Six years after Sept. 11, good and decent people of many faiths and cultures are increasingly rejecting his brutal methods.
Yes, six years later, people, good and descent is subjective, are rejecting AQ for a variety of reasons (including rejecting the prohibition against smoking), but what has Ms. Karen Hughes, as America’s Chief Information Officer done to assist this?
Ms. Hughes makes it crystal clear she doesn’t connect the dots between enemy propaganda and her mission. Ignoring action-reaction, the struggle for minds and wills and even hearts, she proves in this op-ed once again that she views her mission as having little potential impact in the near future and relegated to helping children. But into what kind of world will the kids grow up?
While OBL is playing the role of info magi over there, she’s playing with kids over here. No doubt kids are important, but so are the adults who are being deceived or exploited, often times with assistance from our own alienating policies. No wonder the defense side of USG is sponsoring conferences on public diplomacy and strategic communication.
(H/T to John Brown’s PDPBR for the heads up)