- The Washington Times - Monday, November 6, 2000

Inside public diplomacy

Harold C. Pachios is appealing to the winner of tomorrow's presidential election to make reinventing the State Department one of his top foreign policy goals.

Mr. Pachios, the Democratic chairman of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, certainly hopes Al Gore is victorious but would be comfortable with Colin Powell as secretary of state under a Bush administration.

He said the retired general and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has the necessary management skills to handle a department with some 28,000 Foreign Service officers and a "mountain" of bureaucratic regulations.

"This is a huge department that needs to change, to be decentralized, to empower people at the midlevel to make things happen," he told Embassy Row last week.

Mr. Pachios reviewed the findings of the commission's new report on the consolidation of the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) into the State Department.

A year after the October 1999 merger, the employees of the formerly independent agency find themselves frustrated by the bureaucracy of the State Department. USIA had about 4,000 employees at the time of consolidation.

They are also disappointed that the Foreign Service hierarchy appears to have little appreciation for public diplomacy, the public relations arm of American foreign policy.

"Public diplomacy is too important to be dismissed by State Department officials stuck in the old ways of thinking," the commission said.

The old USIA handled press relations at many U.S. embassies and maintained contacts with foreign media, opposition groups and nongovernmental organizations. They also staffed embassy libraries and provided outreach services to foreign citizens.

The commission conducted many interviews with employees of the old USIA and found "not one … neglected to complain about the difficulty of working through the State Department's rules and procedures."

"The bureaucratic way State operates with its mountain of required clearances, paperwork and regulations is not geared for public diplomacy programs," the commission said.

"From procurement to personnel to grant-making to travel, the Department of State bureaucracy is more cumbersome and slower to work through than was the much smaller and more flexible USIA," it said.

Despite the frustrations felt by the former USIA employees, Mr. Pachios said Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright has demonstrated her commitment to public diplomacy by working closely with Evelyn Lieberman, the new undersecretary for the bureau.

She is the former deputy chief of staff at the White House who transferred Monica Lewinsky to the Pentagon when she suspected the intern was involved with President Clinton.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• Abel Ibude Guobadai, chairman of Nigeria's Independent National Electoral Commission, and Alawi Alattas, chairman of Yemen's Supreme Electoral Commission. They lead a delegation from Nigeria, Congo and Yemen to observe the presidential election as part of a program sponsored by the International Foundation for Election Systems.

• Yoram Peri, professor of politics at Israel's Hebrew University, who discusses the failing Middle East "peace process" with invited guests of the Israel Policy Forum.

• Alejandro Cedeno of the U.N. Commission for Refugees, who speaks to invited guests at the Johns Hopkins University's School for Advanced International Studies.

Tomorrow

• Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner, who meets Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright on Wednesday.

• Ambassador Jose Botafogo, Brazil's special representative to MERCOSUL, the South American free-trade organization.

Thursday

• Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat is expected to meet with President Clinton. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak also is expected to meet with Mr. Clinton separately this week.

Friday

• Oleg Mironov, chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Russia, who holds a 9 a.m. news conference at the National Press Club.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide