congress

The State Department and USAID haven't had an inspector general for over five years, and a growing chorus of lawmakers in both parties want new Secretary of State John Kerry to do something about it. "As you begin your tenure, we would like to raise an issue essential to the proper functioning of the Department of State. For more than five years, since January 16, 2008, the Department has lacked a presidentially-nominated, Senate-confirmed Inspector General."

Lydia Dennett: "One concern is that the origin of the propaganda for foreign audiences might not be known to the domestic recipient. Might this loosening of the ban on propaganda be a slippery slope?"

Greetings from Washington.... a firestorm has erupted over a Congressional amendment related to U.S. public diplomacy... the ferocity of the debate has had little to do with the technical aspects or merits of the legislation itself. At stake, and what the argument was really about, were iconic American values.

Kudos to the House Appropriations Committee for protecting U.S. international broadcasting against the eviscerating cuts in language services and personnel contained in the President’s proposed fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget. If the budget passes—a big “if,” of course—it could reverse a direction that can only be described as self-defeating for American foreign policy and public diplomacy.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) announced its intention to restructure U.S. international broadcasting... In addition, the Board called for a plan to consolidate the agency’s three non-federal broadcast networks: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks.

Now, as senior Republican on a key appropriations panel for foreign operations, Graham is trying to stave off funding cuts for a softer kind of power exercised by diplomats, civilian training corps and U.S. contractors who help other governments battle AIDS, modernize schools, instruct police, clean water wells and enhance their armed forces.

American foreign policy must reorient itself to the soft power of exporting American values and know-how so the Sotomayors, Brins, Omidyars and Zakarias in Puerto Rico, Russia, Iran and India can find success at home.

“What works so well about Peace Corps is that it’s not a development organization,” Goyal said. “It’s really more about cultures, languages, and people.”

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