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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Some great chops

Anne Applebaum proves once again why she is on the op-ed pages of the Washington Post in this searing look at the little-covered, little-attended Senate confirmation hearing of Karen Hughes to undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs.

And thus with no discussion and no debate, Hughes takes over the least noticed, least respected and possibly most important job in the State Department … In plain English, her job is to fight anti-Americanism, promote American culture and above all to do intellectual battle with the ideology of radical Islam, a set of beliefs so powerful that they can persuade middle-class, second-generation British Muslims to blow themselves up on buses and trains.

The traditional tools of public diplomacy -- American libraries, Fourth of July parties, “citizen ambassadors” -- are uniquely unsuited to the task of encouraging debate within Islam as well. But Hughes has nothing to lose by dropping the four "E's," going back to the rest of the alphabet, and thinking way, way outside the box. Judging by Bali, Madrid, London and Sharm el-Sheikh, not to mention New York and Washington, whatever we're doing right now, it isn't working.

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