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World perceptions of the United States are at an all time low. For the past four years, the Center for Media and Democracy has been tracking Bush administration efforts to address poor international opinion.
There has been a disturbing trend, however, for U.S. "hearts and minds" campaigns to do more harm than good. Part of the reason is U.S. officials have little credibility in the eyes of the world. No stockpiled weapons of mass destruction have been found. Iraq is more dangerous than ever. The possiblity for a stable, democratic Iraqi government appears to be years down the road.
While evidence piles up that the Bush White House waged a deceptive campaign to sell the invasion of Iraq to the U.S. public, administration globetrotters act as if the international community is unaware of the dubious nature of White House claims.
In this issue of PR Watch, CMD senior researcher Diane Farsetta examines U.S. image-shaping efforts in Indonesia. PR Watch editor Laura Miller looks at several U.S. campaigns to influence and create media in the Middle East. Both stories point to questions of whether U.S. taxpayer-funded propaganda and public diplomacy are effective and to the underlying issue of what America’s role in the world should be.
While U.S. foreign policy concerning the Middle East and Afghanistan draws international scorn, U.S. inaction on global environmental problems also gets jeered. In his story "Battle Tanks: How Think Tanks Shape the Public Agenda," SourceWatch editor Bob Burton reports on industry funded activities concerning a popular think-tank target - global warming.