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It doesn’t count as public diplomacy — not yet. But the way in which the Iranian authorities have permitted foreign media visits, especially coverage by major American media (e.g., NPR and the NYT) , not to mention official Iranian comments on bilateral relations, suggests a whiff of change toward caring what the Western world thinks.
Students of public diplomacy and propaganda are quick to point out the difference between the two, but sometimes it’s not so easy. One man’s strategic government effort to communicate with foreign publics can be another man’s tendentious information blitz to smear the reputation of another country.
You might think Barack Hussein Obama would choose a safer audience than the Arab world for his first TV interview as President. But he chose Dubai-based Al Arabiya, and he chose well.
With all the innumerable problems facing the United States, the most daunting long-term problem is America’s relationship to the world; within that context, our complicated and troubled relations with the Arab, Muslim and Middle Eastern nations are the most urgent to address.
Today’s press conference by President Bush was his last and — by all appearances — his most unscripted. Here was the 43rd President at turns dismissive, angry, jocular, self-deprecating and defensive in describing his eight years in office. What stood out, however, in relation to America’s image, was Bush’s rambling, disputatious monologue when asked about America’s "moral standing:"
I think my son was disappointed at what he got this year. After opening his gifts, he started throwing shoes at me.”
-David Letterman, December 29th
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