Public Diplomacy’s Next Challenge

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Connections: The Quarterly Journal, Volume 7, Issue 1, p.141-153 (2008)


public diplomacy; diplomacy; counterterrorism; battle of ideas; State Department; CIST (Countering Ideological Support for Terrorism).


Despite seven years of experiments, U.S. public diplomacy against international terrorism has largely failed. What is most needed is a strong infusion of fresh ideas. The rhetorical branch of the offensive against terror has been utterly neglected. U.S. spokesmen should re-open the argument about terrorism’s rank immorality; amplify the voices of Muslim critics of terrorism; publicly deconstruct the ideas of outspoken terrorists; and point to such weaknesses as their lack of credentials in theology. Secondly, there is much room for vigorous and thoughtful defense of evident political alternatives to terror, especially moderation and the rule of law.