Fred Kaplan and Price Floyd discuss the Bush administration’s catastrophic misunderstanding of how public diplomacy should work. In Floyd’s words, he resigned as head of media relations at the State Department because he got tired of trying to convince people “that we should not be judged by our actions, only our words.”
In essence, the Bush administration has tried to employ the same approach abroad as it has at home — ignore peoples’ real concerns and hope aggressive spin can check them. The trouble is that these tactics don’t work nearly as well abroad as they do at home, since the foreign press isn’t cowed by the American conservative movement, and foreigners don’t have Americans’ instinctive impulse to want to believe the best about the US government. Even at home, meanwhile, the White House’s positition has eventually collapsed in the face of overwhelming reality.