- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 16, 2001

In this new kind of war America and its coalition are waging against global terrorism, diplomacy will surely be just as important as bombs. With this strategy in mind, Secretary of State Colin Powell is on a diplomatic offensive which will take him to Pakistan, India and China nations where anti-American sentiment has raged in the streets, if not in the upper echelons of power.

Today, Mr. Powell will meet with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. But perhaps even more importantly, the secretary of state will have a unique opportunity to communicate with the people of that country. Clearly, President Bush has given this type of communication a high priority. And this comes as little surprise, since the war on terrorism will likely be a protracted effort and the public sentiment around the world will be crucial to maintaining its intensity and effectiveness.

"We've got to do a better job of explaining to the people of the Middle East, for example, that we don't fight a war against Islam or Muslims. We don't hold any religion accountable. We're fighting evil," Mr. Bush said in his prime-time address to the nation on Thursday. And when, he added that "these murderers have hijacked a great religion in order to justify their evil deeds. And we cannot let it stand," he seemed to be appealing to more than a strictly American audience.

It is also clear, however, that while the administration is keen to reach out to a global audience, it won't be cowed by minority, anti-American opinions. During a press conference on his way to Pakistan, Mr. Powell said, that although protests against America "get quite a bit of attention, and I regret any loss of life and I regret that there are those who do not understand the tragic nature of what happened the 11th of September and demonstrated against our response to this crime, those demonstrations seen to be fairly modest for a country the size of Pakistan." Mr. Powell added that the Pakistani president believes that he is firmly in control of the situation in this country.

Surely, in light of the government's new focus on public opinion, the Voice of America (VOA) could be given a more dominant role and increased funding particularly the recently closed bureau in Uzbekistan, which is today central to U.S. interests. The U.S.-funded VOA has given many countries their only source of objective news, and helps create more accurate perceptions of America around the world. A reinvigorated VOA could facilitate the administration's objectives.

Mr. Powell will also be traveling to India, where he will discuss America's counter-terrorism campaign, in addition to discussing possible measures to reduce tensions between Pakistan and India. The two nations have long been feuding over Kashmir, a Muslim region controlled by India but claimed by Pakistan. Afterward, Mr. Powell will put international trade at the top of his agenda when he travels to Shanghai for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, a multilateral organization in the region which promotes free trade and investment. Surely, Mr. Powell's diplomatic overtures should pay off, since outreach, tension reduction and trade promotion are all integral to U.S. interests especially today.

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