- Bush's Muslim propaganda chief quits
-- Nothing worked
WASHINGTON (CNN) --The head of U.S. public diplomacy efforts in the
wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks resigned from her
State Department post Monday, a U.S. official told CNN.
Charlotte Beers, 67, a former top advertising executive, took office
shortly after the attacks to spearhead a campaign to win support for
the United States in the Muslim world.
But she attracted more controversy than praise for her efforts and was
attacked relentlessly by the news media, various policy analysts and
members of Congress.
U.S. officials privately complained that although Beers spent a lot of
money on slickly produced media ads, she did not understand her target
audience -- Muslim countries where anti-American sentiment is
"She was failing," the official said. "She didn't do anything that
Beers, whose title was undersecretary of state for public diplomacy,
admitted to a Senate committee last Thursday her task was daunting,
The Associated Press reported.
"The gap between who we are and how we wish to be seen and how we are
in fact seen, is frighteningly wide," Beers told a Senate Foreign
Relations Committee hearing.
Beers' "Shared Values" campaign -- a series of television ads
portraying Muslim Americans in their daily life -- was sharply
criticized in the few countries it was introduced. The series was
eventually suspended when several Arab countries refused to broadcast
"The administration waited until the fallout from the Shared Values
campaign ended," the official said, citing several extremely critical
press reports about Beers. "But we have been looking for an honorable
exit for her for some time."
The official said the White House, which has established its own
Office of Global Communications to distribute U.S. propaganda as the
United States readies for a possible war with Iraq, "has been
distancing itself from Charlotte since day one."
According to her State Department biography, Beers was the only person
to serve as chairman of two of the top 10 worldwide advertising
agencies: J. Walter Thompson and Ogilvy & Mather.
She became offended by media reports shortly after taking office that
compared her job of selling America with her previous role of selling
Uncle Ben's Rice, among other products.
According to the AP, Beers was reported to believe such stories
diminished her efforts to eliminate stereotypes about the United
States in Muslim countries.
Secretary of State Colin Powell, however, picked the same analogy when
he testified at a Senate hearing in November 2001, a month after Beers
was sworn in.
"Well, guess what? She got me to buy Uncle Ben's Rice and so there is
nothing wrong with getting somebody who knows how to sell something,"
Beers' resignation will take effect in about two weeks. Patricia
Harrison, assistant secretary of state for education and cultural
affairs, will temporarily fill Beers' post, the official said.
CNN's Elise Labott contributed to this story.
--- In email@example.com, Fred Cohen <fc@a...> wrote:
> Bush to Create Formal Office To Shape U.S. Image Abroad
> By Karen DeYoung
> Washington Post Staff Writer
> Tuesday, July 30, 2002; Page A01
> The Bush White House has decided to transform what was a temporary
> rebut Taliban disinformation about the Afghan war into a permanent,
> staffed "Office of Global Communications" to coordinate the
> foreign policy message and supervise America's image abroad,
> senior officials.
> The office, due to be up and running by fall, will allow the White
> exert more control over what has become one of the hottest areas of
> government and private-sector initiatives since Sept. 11. Known as
> diplomacy," it attempts to address the question President Bush posed
> speech to Congress the week after the terrorist attacks: "Why do
> At the time, Bush was referring to the terrorists who attacked the World
> Trade Center and the Pentagon. "They hate our freedoms," he has
> said since then. But as demonstrations, boycotts and other
> anti-Americanism have spread across the Islamic world and beyond, the
> question has taken on broader meaning -- and the need for a broader
> A senior administration official said the goal of the office was not to
> supplant the State Department, which has primary responsibility for
> America's story" overseas, or replace other agencies with international
> outreach functions. The office, he said, would add "thematic and
> value," along with presidential clout, to their efforts.
> "If you were to ask people representing the government who travel,
> overseas -- even leading Americans -- 'What does America want to say to
> people in the world? What are the top three points? What is the answer?'
> that has to come from the top," the official said.
> Headed by a yet-to-be-named "counselor to the president," the office
> expand many of the responsibilities of the White House Coalition
> Center, established shortly after the U.S. military campaign in
> began last fall.
> High-ranking officials from here and Britain made scores of Arab media
> appearances in what the White House considers one of the most successful
> efforts to assure the Arab world that the United States has not
> global anti-Muslim campaign. Even as it was booking guests on
> al-Jazeera, the White House Coalition Information Center was laying
> uniform, daily message to communicate across high- and low-tech media
> outlets. It is that level of management, undertaken quickly and
> across the administration, that the White House thinks it will be
> The new office is the brainchild of senior Bush adviser Karen P. Hughes,
> architect of the administration's efforts to ensure a uniform message on
> domestic policy. Although Hughes returned to live in Texas early
> officials said she will remain closely involved in the new operation.
> Charlotte Beers, the advertising agency executive Bush appointed
> to the State Department's top public diplomacy job, said one of the
> September lessons still being learned "is that we can and should do
> educate, and influence the attitudes of, foreign audiences toward our
> Graham E. Fuller, a former vice chairman of the CIA's National
> Council and a longtime Near East analyst for the agency, said that
> years of living and traveling in the Middle East, "I have never felt
> extraordinary gap between the two worlds. . . . Clearly, in a region
> we desperately need friends and supporters, their number is
> we are increasingly on the defensive."
> "How has this state of affairs come about?" House International
> Committee Chairman Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.) said in a speech last
> to the Council on Foreign Relations. "How is it that the country that
> invented Hollywood and Madison Avenue has allowed such a destructive and
> parodied image of itself to become the intellectual coin of the realm
> Hyde shares a widespread conviction that a major part of the problem has
> been poor salesmanship. In this view, the best way to fight a
> is to increase the flow of positive information, using every tool at the
> United States' command, including the most modern information
> student exchanges and placement of overseas American libraries.
> Some critics question whether expanding and improving delivery will
> there is no change in the message. "If fundamental policies are seen
> flawed, a prettied-up package will not make a difference," Fuller told a
> recent meeting of the bipartisan U.S. Advisory Commission on Public
> The problem is particularly acute in the Middle East, he said, a
part of the
> world where U.S. support for Israel and for non-democratic regimes
> as fundamental tenets of wrongheaded American policy. "Immense
> American culture" remains, along with approval of the U.S. political
> and domestic freedoms, Fuller said. But he said "there is a sense of
> standards" among Arab youth who say: " 'We want your political
values. It is
> you we perceive as not applying them in any consistent way.' "
> Through polling, focus groups and fact-finding missions, the
> has been exploring how to enhance the image of the United States.
> Among the first ventures is Radio Sawa, a 24-hour U.S. government radio
> station that began broadcasting to the Arab world last spring. A far cry
> from the wordy, editorializing Voice of America that has been the
> centerpiece of U.S. government broadcasting since World War II,
> is modeled after Top-100 FM stations in this country.
> Sawa, which means "together" in Arabic, uses market research to select a
> frequently updated playlist of American and Arab pop music that will
> to young Arab listeners. Although there are plans to add more
> programming, its current editorial content is a brief news bulletin
> In a promotional prototype of future programming, Mohammed, an Arab
> calls a radio talk show to say: "I want to know why the United States is
> fighting a war against Islam." In response, the station plays an excerpt
> from one of many Bush speeches on the peaceful nature of Islam and
> in which terrorists have perverted it.
> The State Department has begun producing what Beers calls
> "mini-documentaries on Muslim life in America" to air on satellite
> in the Middle East. Having dismantled, for budgetary and security
> most of the once-ubiquitous American Cultural Centers and libraries
> the world, the State Department plans to expand the "American Room"
> begun in Russia in the early 1990s. Corners of Americana established
> local staff in existing local libraries or other cultural sites, the
> are considered less appealing as terrorist targets.
> With these efforts in their infancy, it is unclear how effective
> be. "We're reinventing the wheel," Walter R. Roberts, a veteran of high
> posts in public diplomacy efforts in previous administrations and a
> consultant to the advisory commission, said of the American Rooms at a
> recent commission meeting.
> One Arab American who has closely followed public diplomacy developments
> said, "We need to ally ourselves with the right people. Our
> to go out and mingle. They hang out with the elites and don't engage
> who resent us" but who have not turned to violence. "It's like a
> said this observer. "You've got to go after the swing voters."
> Beers says this is precisely the attitude she is trying to instill.
> pledged that all U.S. diplomats, no matter what their rank, will receive
> more extensive training in the American "message" of democracy, personal
> freedom and free markets and learn how to spread it through local
> Recruitment programs now emphasize public affairs, long considered
> bottom of the diplomatic career ladder, as an increasingly important
> specialty. Early this year, Beers brought U.S. embassy public affairs
> officers from around the world to Washington for a morale-boosting
> Congress has also moved into the public diplomacy arena. The House
> passed, with no opposition, a Hyde-sponsored bill that eventually
> hundreds of millions of dollars to the public diplomacy budget,
> responsibilities of Beers's office, establish civilian exchange
> the Muslim world and fund round-the-clock satellite television to
> East. Similar efforts are underway in the Senate.
> Hollywood has signed on to help, although early flag-waving has
> most cases into nervousness about being drawn into a less clear-cut
> propaganda effort.
> Almost every public policy think tank, including the American Enterprise
> Institute and the Brookings Institution, has held symposiums and offered
> advice. Today, the Council on Foreign Relations will weigh in with the
> release of "Strategy for Reform," the result of a month-long public
> diplomacy study by a private-sector task force.
> But while there is a torrent of new attention, concern over how the
> States is perceived abroad and what the government should do to
> foreign attitudes is a well-worn subject in Washington.
> President Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first to identify a target
> overseas with his Office of War Information, which created the Voice of
> America and established American Information Centers in liberated
> During the Cold War, President Harry S. Truman launched a "Campaign of
> Truth" that he said was "as important as armed strength or economic
> the battle against communism. Its most memorable creation was the U.S.
> International Information Administration, which established overseas
> libraries and foreign exchange programs. Under Dwight D. Eisenhower, it
> became the United States Information Agency.
> Eisenhower rejected placing the agency under presidential control, and
> direct White House involvement was not revived until Ronald Reagan took
> office. In a classified, January 1983 National Security Decision
> Reagan placed responsibility for "overall planning, direction,
> and monitoring of implementation of public diplomacy activities"
> National Security Council.
> Relative global peace and a search for cuts in the federal
> USIA a natural target for the Clinton administration, and there were few
> complaints when it was eliminated as a separate agency in 1999. By
> 2001, the White House viewed public diplomacy as a back-burner
> for a superpower with unilateral interests and responsibilities.
> Christopher Ross, a State Department specialist in Middle Eastern
> who returned to government last year as "special coordinator" in Beers's
> office, said, "In the 10 years between the Cold War and September
11, we had
> forgotten about the outside world." The harsh anti-American rhetoric and
> images that had begun to overtake initial responses of international
> sympathy and support, he said, "showed us what people think of us,
> were shocked."
> © 2002 The Washington Post Company