National Press Club

U.S. Diplomacy a Success, Says Glassman

October 6, 2008 | By Bill Miller

Contrary to the widespread belief that the United States is in increasingly unpopular around the world, “Support of America is rising, and support of Muslim extremism is falling,” declared James K. Glassman, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, at a Oct. 3 Club Luncheon.

And despite criticism of the nation’s diplomatic efforts, he insisted, “America has public diplomacy that we can be proud of. Public diplomacy is succeeding.”

The former editor-in-chief of Roll Call, publisher of The New Republic and president of The Atlantic Monthly described how the nation’s public diplomacy, after being cut back in the 1990s, has been overhauled in recent years.

“There now is a consensus,” he said, “that ideas are more important than bullets.”

Pointing out that the nation’s core task is not necessarily to sell “the U.S. brand,” but to “isolate the threat of extremism,” he said that al-Queda, partly through its own overreaching, “is dramatically losing support.”

Four months into his job after serving as a senior fellow at the Ameican Enterprise Institute, Glassman said in answer to a question that the current U.S. election campaign “is a tremendous boost to America’s diplomacy” by putting democracy on display. “Whoever is elected,” -- Sen. Barack Obama or Sen. John McCain – “will excite the world,” he predicted.

In response to a question on the world financial crisis, Glassman, a former investment columnist for The Washington Post, noted that “there is a tendency in the world to blame the United States for everything,” but that policies of other nations are at fault, too. “One thing I know,” he said, “is that the U.S. economy is very resilient. It will rebound.”