Jewish World Review July 31, 2002 / 23 Menachem-Av, 5762

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White House to promote U.S. image | WASHINGTON (UPI) -- The White House plans on formally creating a special communications coordinating office to work with the State Department and other agencies to help counter anti-American sentiment abroad by explaining U.S. policies and promoting America's image, spokesman Ari Fleischer said Tuesday.

Seeds for the Office of Global Communications were planted following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, when some Arabs and others expressed anti-American sentiment over the U.S. decision to take military action in Afghanistan.

"... What led to this is the president's belief, as he put it in the State of the Union, that America is such a force for good around the world, and yet we hear messages from other nations that they don't see what the American people see in our country, that the president thinks it's important to share information, to listen to other countries, and to provide that information so they can listen to us," Fleischer said.

"And so, as a result, the president does believe

better coordination of international communications will help America to explain what we do and why we do it around the world. It's important to share the truth about America and American values with other nations in the world."

Following Sept. 11 the State Department began a public diplomacy campaign, which saw Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld appear on Arabic-language interview programs.

Daily messages to be promoted were also sent to embassies abroad for release to local news outlets, and an Arabic-language music-and-news radio station went on the air.

"It's going to work with the State Department's Office of Public Diplomacy," Fleischer said. "That will be the principal group that they work with, but it will be interagency. And I think, depending on the issue -- for example, if you're talking about trade, you could anticipate a role for the Department of Commerce.

"Depending on the issue, it will involve different agencies, all of which play a role abroad. But it primarily is going to work with the Department of State."

Promoting America and its image was once the responsibility of the U.S. Information Agency, which ran libraries abroad and numerous cultural exchange activities.

The agency eventually went the way of the Cold War, in which it played an important role.

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