WASHINGTON: Repairing America's image overseas will require the full range of modern public diplomacy programs and years of patience, according to assistant secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs Margaret Tutwiler.
Testifying before a House appropriations subcommittee earlier this month, Tutwiler outlined a long-term strategy for reversing America's declining image around the world. That strategy relied heavily on traditional diplomatic initiatives such as academic and professional exchanges, overseas broadcasts, and outreach to foreign media.
A State Department veteran, Tutwiler took over as head of US foreign PR efforts last year when Charlotte Beers, a former Madison Avenue CEO, resigned the post due to health reasons.
Tutwiler's proposals were at least as notable for what they did not include. Absent was any mention of a multimillion-dollar ad or marketing campaign such as the $15 million "Shared Values" initiative that dominated Beers' turbulent reign. Indeed, it was Tutwiler's reputation as a diplomatic traditionalist that many say led the Bush administration to offer her the position last year.
The former ambassador to Morocco surprised some observers by refusing to endorse several key proposals of a recent study on US public diplomacy funded by Congress. Among them were a restructuring of the State Department to facilitate better communication and the creation of a White House-level public diplomacy post.
"She acknowledges the problem is massive and could take years to correct, yet she insists that she is determined to continue working within the failed system she inherited and without the assistance of a White House-based coordinator of public diplomacy," offered Wes Pedersen, director of communications at the Public Affairs Council and a State Department alumnus.