American Encounters with Arabs: The "Soft Power" of U.S. Public Diplomacy in the Middle East

Synopsis

For sixty years, U. S. government officials have conducted public diplomacy programs to try to reach Arab public opinion, in order to inform, educate, and understand Arab attitudes. American public affairs officers have met serious challenges in the past, but Arab public criticism of the United States has reached unprecedented levels since September 11, 2001. Polls show that much of the negative opinion of the United States, especially in the Middle East, can be traced to dissatisfaction with U. S. foreign policy. Rugh, a retired career Foreign Service officer who twice served as ambassador to countries in the region, explains how U. S. government officials have dealt with key problem issues over the years, and he recommends ways that public diplomacy can better support and enhance U. S. national interests in the Middle East. This struggle for the "hearts and minds" of the Arab world, so crucial to the success of American efforts in post-occupation Iraq, is carried out through broadcasting, cultural contacts, and educational and professional exchanges.