Byline: James Morrison, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Robert Schadler said he would be brief and blunt, as he addressed the Heritage Foundation on Wednesday in a forum that marked the 10th anniversary of the demise of the U.S. Information Agency.
He was brief, but blunt was an understatement.
Mr. Schadler, a former USIA officer now with the American Foreign Policy Council, called the closure of the agency dedicated to telling America's story for 46 years an inexplicable self-inflicted wound that damaged U.S. public diplomacy.
The decision, made in 1999 at the end of the Cold War, was supported by Congress, the White House and the State Department, which would absorb much of the USIA structure.
Mr. Schadler denounced the bipartisan insanity that destroyed the USIA. Since the transfer to a newly created undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, the function of explaining the United States to the rest of the world has resulted in an incoherent shambles, he said.
Mr. Schadler argued that public diplomacy has been missing for a decade from U.S. foreign policy and that al Qaeda terrorists make better use of the Internet than American diplomats. He added that the Defense Department and the CIA are doing better jobs of public diplomacy than the State Department.
Mr. Schadler noted that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates called for a massive influx of resources for public diplomacy when he served in the same position in the George W. Bush administration.
Defense Department officials do public diplomacy because their buddies are being killed and maimed because we have such poor public diplomacy [from the State Department], he said.
The CIA conducts public diplomacy, he added. Sometimes it is called a debriefing. Sometimes enhanced interrogation.
Mr. Schadler appeared on the panel with Joseph Duffey, the last director of the USIA, and Daniel Sreebny, a former USIA officer and now acting director of the Global Strategic Engagement Center at the Office of the Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. …