- The Washington Times - Friday, November 2, 2007

Denounced in Turkey

Weeks beforeSecretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced plans to visit Turkey to try to defuse a diplomatic crisis created over a congressional resolution, the U.S. ambassador there was already well aware of the damage done to U.S.-Turkish relations.

Ambassador Ross Wilson issued a public statement that dropped all pretense of diplomatic subtleties to denounce the resolution, which accuses the Ottoman Turkish Empire of genocide against Armenians in World War I.

The resolution, which passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee, outraged the Turkish republic, which succeeded the Ottomans. Turkish political leaders are facing domestic pressure to deny the United States use of an air base for supplying troops in Iraq and to unleash cross-border military operations against Kurdish terrorists in northern Iraq.

“The president, Secretary Rice, other administration officials and I all categorically oppose House Resolution 106,” Mr. Wilson said last month. “I deeply regret the decision by the House Foreign Affairs Committee to send this resolution forward for a vote by the entire House. … I sincerely hope the resolution will not be passed and will continue my efforts to convince members of Congress not to approve it.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California delayed further action on the resolution after encountering a growing backlash among her fellow Democrats.

Miss Rice is scheduled to meet today with President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the capital, Ankara. Mr. Erdogan is due to meet with President Bush in Washington on Monday.

Diplomatic moose

Thomas Jefferson may have been the first president to pursue public diplomacy when, to make a point, he shipped a moose to Paris.

Jefferson sent the large beast to disprove a theory by French naturalist George Louis LeClerc, who claimed that all plants, animals and humans in the United States were physically and morally inferior to those in Europe.

Some 200 years later, a U.S. diplomat in London yesterday repeated the story as an example of the anti-Americanism that U.S. public diplomacy tries to confront.

Colleen Graffy, assistant secretary of state for public diplomacy for Europe and Eurasia, first noted that her title is so long it takes up both sides of her business card.

Ms. Graffy discussed efforts to combat criticism of America, especially in Europe.

“When someone in Europe says something is being ‘Americanized,’ all we know is that this is a negative statement, that whatever is being referred to does not meet with the approval of the speaker,” she told the Royal Institute of International Affairs.

“But we have no idea whatsoever if it is because it is too red or too blue, too soft or too hard. It could be all those things.”

She added that sometimes the criticism is contradictory.

“The U.S. is alternatively criticized for excessive materialism — and religious fixations; for having no values — and being too moralizing; for weakening the hand of the state — and giving the state too much power; for being too puritanical — and for being too frivolous,” Ms. Graffy said.

Returning to history, she recounted the caustic comments of Oscar Wilde, who, nevertheless, won fame and fortune in the United States during a nationwide speaking tour in 1882.

“America,” Wilde said, “is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.”

Ms. Graffy addressed the institute the day after Karen P. Hughes, the first undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, announced her resignation.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@ washingtontimes.com.

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