The Diplomacy of Deeds
Byline: Karen P. Hughes, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Last week's White House "Malaria Summit" not only promises major progress against this preventable disease, but also represents the best of American public diplomacy the diplomacy of our deeds.
What we do often speaks more emphatically than what we say, especially when our deeds result in a better life for people in meaningful ways such as improved health and education. The malaria initiative, like so many others, sends the clear message that Americans care deeply about the lives of people across the world.
This effort harnesses and mobilizes the collective compassion of our country. It combines the tax dollars of American citizens and the expertise of our government agencies with the contributions and passion of private foundations and individuals. It brings together the research of our health institutions, the reach of private companies and the hands and hearts of religious congregations.
Thanks to this combined effort, 15 countries in Africa will receive an infusion of expertise and $1.5 billion to prevent malaria. The result is the opportunity to save the lives of 3,000 children a day and more than a million people a year who now die from this terrible disease.
The malaria initiative is unprecedented, but not unique. History will show President Bush and the American people have engaged in an unprecedented commitment to humanitarian causes from fighting AIDS to educating children to feeding the hungry in some of the world's most difficult places. Yet too few Americans, and even fewer across the world, seem to recognize the extent of these American initiatives.
This fall, while I spoke at a women's conference in California, I summarized a variety of American projects business mentoring for women in developing countries, training for nearly a million teachers in 20 countries, scholarships for half a million girls in Africa, the first breast cancer prevention and early detection campaign in the Middle East, and more.
Eunice Shriver, the mother of California's first lady, was in the audience and raised her hand to ask why we don't hear more about these programs.
A short answer is that bad news tends to crowd out good deeds, although it's clearly more complicated than that. Across the world, America feeds the poor, educates the illiterate, cares for the sick and responds to disasters. We support so many different development projects, in fact, that we often get little credit for any of them. And in this time of war, such good news stories are overshadowed by the somber news of loss.
It's understandable that our national attention is focused on our vital mission in Iraq and Afghanistan and the need to confront the continuing threat of terrorism. It's understandable that a bombing leads the news, not the digging of a well or the opening of a school. And yet, in this season of giving and good will, it's also important to remind ourselves and the world that America is actively engaged in "waging peace" by helping people improve their lives. …