For better or worse, the word most associated with President Obama’s foreign policy is “engagement.” Many in the United States and throughout the world perceived the Bush administration as heavy-handed, abrasive, and too unwilling to listen to other nations’ hopes, fears, and perspectives.
President Obama was (is?) viewed as someone with the family background, humility, and empathy to show the world a difference face of America.
Engaging everyone – old allies, emerging powers, enemies, foreign publics, NGOs, corporations, Muslim communities – that, more than anything, is the Obama administration’s “theory of the case” as it seeks to lead the world in the 21st century.
A significant aspect of this engagement strategy has been to use new media and public diplomacy to express more effectively what America is and why it is carrying out the policies that it does.
One outgrowth of this is the State Department’s “Conversations with America” series. The series is designed to provide “an opportunity for [State Department officials] to discuss a range of issues, important issues with people within the United States and around the world.”
Past conversations have featured Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Bob Blake, Center for Strategic and International Studies/South Asia Director Teresita Schaffer, World Affairs Councils of America Chairman Ambassador Marc Grossman, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.
Today, Friday, July 9 from 11:15am – 12:00pm EST TWN Publisher and New America Foundation/American Strategy Program Director Steve Clemons will join Farah Pandith, the State Department’s Special Representative to Muslim Communities, to discuss the United States’ engagement with Muslim communities around the world.
The conversation will stream live here at The Washington Note, and the State Department’s official blog,
Viewers can submit questions during the live chat at this link.
— Ben Katcher