Arab Media and US Policy: A Public Diplomacy Reset
During the past decade, numerous polls have underscored that the reputation of the United States in the Middle East has steadily deteriorated. This persistently negative image poses a formidable challenge to the ability of the United States to engage the Arab region, casting a cloud of suspicion over US political, economic, and cultural initiatives. As a result, over the last few years, several studies, commissions, reports, and assessments have attempted to diagnose the crisis and to issue recommendations on how to remedy the situation.
The lack of an international communication strategy, insufficient funds for public diplomacy, and an inadequate public diplomacy structure have been identified as problems. Though these are important issues, US policymakers should create an alternative to the “global war on terror” as a framework for global engagement, acquire expert knowledge about the Arab media environment, pay more attention to how economic governance issues affect perceptions of the United States, and consider the pitfalls of the misunderstood “branding” label.
Above all, an understanding should emerge that the US reputation crisis cannot be resolved by communication alone, but ought to rest on smarter policies. A revised grand strategy should rest on a new multilateralism based on engagement with multiple state and nonstate actors and new, bold initiatives.