America's new covert effort to win hearts and minds in the war aginst terrorism has been spurred by one lasting fear: that for all of its military succeses-or perhaps because of them, Washington may be losing the deeper struggle for public opinion around the world.
America is fighting a two front war. On the ground in Afghanistan,
the U.S. seems to be winning the military war on terrorism.
The second front is a battle for the hearts and minds of people in the
Muslim world. The attacks of September 11th called the government to change its
isolationist ways and look toward creating initiatives that will allow
for more public diplomacy that targets civil society and creates an
environment where mutual understanding is possible.
"The United States lost the public relations war in the Muslim
world a long time ago," said Osama Siblani, publisher of the Arab
American News, in a Washington Post interview. "They could have the
prophet Muhammad doing public relations and it wouldn't help."
Nonetheless, the United States has a story to tell, one that includes
episodes of idealism, noble sacrifice and the nurturing of values
integral to human freedom.
This site gives a brief glimpse into some of the actions the
government has taken to increase tolerance of the U.S. to the notoriously
anti-American Muslim world.
The idea is to take what Americans do well-communications and the
media- and get back in the public relations war.