Alex Massie has an interesting item on the non-diplomacy being practiced this year by our Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Karen Hughes. Apparently, Ms. Hughes doesn’t do much in the way of public diplomacy these days, at least not when it comes to communicating with other countries. The current year is approximately halfway done and her listed activities abroad so far include a meeting on education in India and an op-ed in The India Times on the same subject. 2005 was a flurry of activity in the Islamic world, but it also brought quite a lot of cutting and hostile commentary from Western media, to say nothing of the impression it probably made on its target audiences.
As Mr. Massie notes, this change may be for the best. I do find it reassuring that the government is not sending her around the world too often to patronise Muslim women and talk about how much she, too, loves her children. That does not stop her from saying annoying things on our own soil: “… like you, we care about our families, many of us care deeply about our faith, we want our children to be educated and have opportunities, we want to live in a secure and a just world.” Oh, well, in that case, everything is okay.
However, I would be more reassured if the President himself did not roam the world continuing to chatter on about the great advances of “democracy” in Kyrgyzstan or the historical inevitability of freedom. It seems to me that each time he gives one of these speeches, as he did in Prague, it is worse than a dozen head-smacking-worthy comments from Ms. Hughes.
Speaking of which, here is an excerpt from her remarks at the opening ceremony for the Organization of Islamic Conference in D.C.:
Together we must address the misperception fostered by extremists that there is a “clash of the civilizations,” that the West is somehow in conflict with Islam, because I know — and you know — that simply isn’t true. Islam, as a major world religion, is part of the West and an important part of America [bold mine-DL].
Islam is part of the West? That will be news to a few people. Naturally, she gets in the obligatory mention of Rumi, everyone’s favourite Sufi. More surreal in this context are the invocations of Amazing Grace and Wilberforce’s antislavery reformism and Rosa Parks.