Karen Hughes

As part of its ‘roadmap’ to strengthening U.S. public diplomacy, the State Department plans to create seven new senior positions, the Washington Times emphasized in its report of last week’s Senate hearing that featured testimony by four Under Secretaries of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (see Alliance report).

The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight Wednesday released a new report entitled “The Decline in America’s Reputation: Why?”, summarizing a series of 10 hearings the subcommittee held last year about international opinion about the United States and its foreign policies.

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The U.S. Senate last night confirmed the nominations of James K. Glassman to be Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, and Janice L. Jacobs to be Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs. Glassman replaces Karen Hughes. Jacobs replaces Maura Harty.

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The House last week adopted an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2009 that would require the President to develop a comprehensive interagency strategy for strategic communication and public diplomacy by the end of 2009. According to the amendment text, the strategy would “build upon the strategy outlined by the Strategic Communication and Public Diplomacy Coordinating Committee in the publication titled ‘U.S. National Strategy for Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communication’ (June, 2007).” The Policy Coordinating Committee (PCC) on Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communication was an interagency effort led by then-Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes.

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At a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday, Mr. James K. Glassman and Ms. Goli Ameri, President Bush’s nominees for Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs and Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) respectively, praised the value of exchanges and pending their confirmation, pledged to build on those programs during their terms in office.

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A hearing on public diplomacy in the Middle East generated Congressional expressions both of frustration at slow progress in changing public opinion and of support for the importance of exchange programs.

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Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs, expressed great concern about the U.S. image abroad at a hearing yesterday morning with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

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Members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations turned out in force today to hear from Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes on the state of U.S. public diplomacy programs.

Noting in her opening comments that State has requested $949 million for public diplomacy programs, and an additional $668 million for the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), for a combined total of over $1.6 billion, Subcommittee Chair Nita Lowey (D-NY) affirmed that “many of us (on the Subcommittee) believe the number should be even greater”, though she added that the Subcommittee’s priorities might differ from State’s.

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There is “no question our exchange programs are the single most effective tool”, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes told the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice, Commerce and Related Agencies on Wednesday. Hughes thanked the subcommittee for its contribution to exchanges, adding that people she meets around the world “say their lives are forever changed” by the experience.

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At a House hearing last week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice faced questioning about the adequacy of U.S. public diplomacy funding.

Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL), vice chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice, and Commerce, asked Rice whether the component of the budget to win “hearts and minds is really meeting the challenge”. Arguing that we are giving “short shrift” to these issues, Weldon reminded Rice that “We’re the appropriators,” and asked, “Are we engaging the academic community enough? Are we engaging Hollywood enough?”

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