Since 9-11, the State Department has undertaken an unprecedented effort to reach audiences both in the U.S. and overseas to explain our foreign policy objectives. My former office there arranged more than 6,500 interviews in the past six years, about half of those with international media. On any given day, senior department officials, including the secretary of state, were doing four or five interviews.
Yet during this time, poll after poll showed an alarming trajectory of increased animosity toward America and this administration in particular, both here and abroad.
This contradiction -- reaching a larger audience than ever before to explain our foreign policy goals and objectives, while the support for those policies fell -- underscores the gap between how our actions have been perceived and how we want them to be perceived.
Floyd lists a number of US policy decisions that have eroded international support for the American global agenda, writing, "Collectively, these actions have sent an unequivocal message: The U.S. does not want to be a collaborative partner. That is the policy we have been 'selling' through our actions, which speak the loudest of all."
Floyd explains that during the many crises the US faced in his 17 years with the State Department, "We at least appeared to be working with others, even if we took actions with which others did not agree. We were talking to our enemies as well as our allies. Our actions and our words were in sync, we were transparent, our agenda was there for all to see, and our actions matched it."
"This is not the case today. Much of our audience either doesn't listen or perceives our efforts to be meaningless U.S. propaganda.
"We need a president who will enable the U.S. to return to its rightful place as the "beacon on a hill" -- a country that others want to emulate, not hate; a country that proves through words and deeds that it is free, not afraid....
"We must do the real work of public diplomacy, not public relations... Given where we stand in the eyes of the world, the results of these efforts will take years, possibly decades, to reap any positive benefits. But this change is vital to U.S. national security. It is also a moral obligation that we owe to the world."
It's interesting to note that Floyd does not so much as mention Iraq in his op-ed. Considering that opinion polling indicates the decision to invade Iraq has been the single-most devastating policy decision that has negatively impacted US support abroad, it can probably be assumed that Floyd reserved criticism on that issue either at the request of or as a courtesy to his former colleagues.
Hat tip to Laura Rozen for picking up on this first.