Public Diplomacy: A National Security Imperative

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
June 11, 2009

Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith A. McHale spoke today at the Center for a New American Security.

Today, at the Center for a New American Security Under Secretary McHale spoke about renewing U.S. engagement with the people of the world and restoring the kind of leadership that made the United States a force for global progress for so much of history. Secretary Clinton has put people-to-people diplomacy at the heart of smart power and has underscored our need to, “build new partnerships from the bottom up, and to use every tool at our disposal.”

Under Secretary McHale said, “Whether we are strengthening old alliances, forging new partnerships to meet complex global challenges, engaging with citizens and civil society, or charting new strategies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, our national interests depend on effective engagement and innovative public diplomacy. The stakes could not be higher. We must get this right…This is not a propaganda contest — it is a relationship race. And we have got to get back in the game.”

In particular, Under Secretary McHale highlighted the work to be done in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“Enhanced public diplomacy is a key component of the President’s new strategy in the region…To achieve the President’s aims, we are launching a multi-faceted strategy to provide platforms for local moderate voices, support democratic institutions and civil society, and position the United States as a long-term partner working to create opportunities and enable the people of the region to chart the futures of their own countries.

We are responding to requests from the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan to help meet the needs of their people. Secretary Clinton recently announced more than $100 million in humanitarian support for the people of Pakistan. And Ambassador Holbrooke just announced another $200 million. Since 2002, the United States has provided a total of more than $3.4 billion to alleviate suffering and promote economic growth, education, health, security and good governance in Pakistan.

Yet we have a credibility gap with many in the region — some have called it a ‘trust deficit.’ So part of our task is reassuring the people that our aim in the region is to support their own aspirations. We need to do a better job of getting the word out about what we are doing to help Pakistan and Afghanistan become more stable and prosperous, both through the local media and by communicating directly with people.”

Under Secretary McHale concluded her remarks by saying, “A few days after I started at the State Department, I moved into George Marshall’s old office. General Marshall saw a world beyond our shores devastated by war and reeling from economic crisis. He knew that our fates and our fortunes were intertwined and that America had to engage with the world to ensure our future. So he launched one of the most far-reaching engagement efforts in history. And today we are still reaping the rewards of that investment in mutual prosperity and security. From Cairo to Kabul, from quiet villages to crowded cities, America is once again reaching out a hand of friendship and seeking new relationships. We know it is the right thing to do and we know, like General Marshall did, that our future depends on it.”

You may read the full transcript of the Under Secretary's speech here.



California, USA
June 14, 2009

Wendy in California writes:

The idea of "investment in mutual prosperity" is surely the truest way to lead to mutual security.

Kansas, USA
June 17, 2009

David in Kansas writes:

The focus in this piece on the money we are providing Afghanistan and Pakistan gives the impression (falsely, I hope) that the centerpiece of our outreach is cash. Money sent alone, without being part of a larger strategy of deeds and words - meaningful words communicated effectively to the foreign audience in terms familiar to them and that match our deeds - is money wasted. Friends that can be bought with cash alone can be bought back by our adversaries.


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