WASHINGTON: Margaret Tutwiler, former US ambassador to Morocco and briefly the head of media operations in post-war Iraq, is returning to Washington as the next undersecretary of state for public affairs and public diplomacy. She will replace Charlotte Beers, the former advertising executive, who left the post in April due to an undisclosed illness.
The decision to tap Tutwiler, who served as assistant secretary of state for public affairs in the George H.W. Bush administration, would seem to represent a significant shift in diplomatic strategy for the current administration, which had appointed Beers, a veritable icon in the advertising industry, to the position with much fanfare in 2001. Beers spearheaded an overseas Muslim-outreach program centered on a $15-million ad campaign that some dismissed as ineffectual.
Many in the diplomatic community hailed Tutwiler's appointment as a signal that the administration is abandoning the "Madison Avenue" approach to foreign relations. Tutwiler, a former spokeswoman at both the Treasury and State Departments, assisted her mentor, James Baker, in his attempts to stop the recounts in Florida following the 2000 Presidential election.
Tutwiler was first offered her new position in April, immediately following the departure of Beers. She was at first hesitant to accept, citing satisfaction with her station in Morocco, according to news reports. But after several weeks in Iraq attempting to set up a press operation plagued by logistical obstacles, she has agreed to take the job. She now faces confirmation by the Senate.