Guest Blog by James Glassman: Obama Should do More Arabic and Farsi Chats on All Networks, Including US-Funded Operations


glassman twn 2.jpgThis is a guest post by former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy James Glassman. I interviewed Jim Glassman, who also previously served as Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, in a short exchange for The Washington Note here — and this is a longer video clip of James Glassman’s presentation at the New America Foundation on the subject, “Public Diplomacy 2.0.”
I was particularly glad the first time Glassman spoke at the New America Foundation when he defined his role in public diplomacy as not to make the world love America — but rather to telegraph the message to young people frustrated with their circumstances to find outlets other than violence for their activism and their anger.
These views are James Glassman’s alone. He is the highest-ranking official in the Bush administration to appear on Al Jazeera. I appear on Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, and Al Hurra frequently — and do recommend that President Obama appear as well on all of those networks.

A note from James K. Glassman:
President Obama deserves congratulations for his interview on Al Arabiya, a network that has shown responsibility and professionalism, lately in stark contrast lately to Al Jazeera.
As someone who has dealt with all the major Arabic language stations, I suggest that his next interview should be on Radio Sawa, the U.S.-taxpayer-funded radio network that is aimed mainly at young people, with a mix of music and public affairs. It’s the largest single Arabic-language net in the Mideast and has a big audience in some critical markets, including the West Bank, where it’s broadcast on five separate FM stations.
Next, he should do a call-in show, “Roundtable With You,” on Persian News Network, a U.S.-funded satellite stream in Farsi that reaches more than 28 percent of Iranians each week. PNN is the best way directly to reach the Iranian people.
And before his administration starts what everyone expects will be diplomat-to-diplomat contact, Obama should go to the Iranians themselves, who LIKE us.
By the way, in appearing on PNN (as he did in appearing on Al Arabiya), Obama would not be breaking new ground, but he would have a huge impact. President Bush appeared on Al Arabiya several times, dating back at least to 2004. He also gave a Persian new year’s greeting in 2008 on PNN.
I tried mightily, and to no avail, to get President Bush to go on “Roundtable With You,” but perhaps the White House was right, and it would have been a risk taking unfiltered questions.
But there would be little such risk for Obama. So, two quick hits: Sawa and Persian News Network.
After that, perhaps Al Jazeera and Alhurra.
And one small suggestion to a man who knows that words count: Don’t use the phrase “Muslim world.” The implication is that all societies with Muslim populations — from Indonesian to Yemen to India to France — constitute a monolith.
That is simply untrue, and unconstructive.
Use the term “Muslim societies.”
— James Glassman


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