u.s. department of state
The Office of American Spaces under the U.S. Department of State has recently released its annual report. With over 700 spaces across 169 countries, American Spaces "serve as the primary places of ongoing people-to-people connections between the United States and foreign audiences that are essential to advancing U.S. foreign policy objectives." Hosted in embassies, schools, libraries, and other partner institutions, often outside capital cities, these locales aim to further a core tenet of democracy: access to information.
Right now, legislation is pending in the House of Representatives that would do the unthinkable – restrict our government’s ability to broadcast news and information in Arabic to the Arabic-speaking world. As a former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Kuwait, and Lebanon, I know that whether discrediting ISIS’s murderous ideology, providing a clear explanation of American policy, or better explaining the hallmarks of American culture in places where it is not well understood, there is no substitute for the ability to talk people across the Middle East in their own language.
The State Department is revamping its floundering efforts to curb recruiting by the Islamic State and other terrorist groups, senior U.S. officials tell Foreign Policy, in response to growing dissatisfaction in the White House and Congress at existing attempts to stop the spread of the extremists’ ideology. The changes ordered by Secretary of State John Kerry, which have not previously been reported, shift significant power to a single bureau at the State Department tasked with coordinating all counter-extremism efforts.