State Dept: Forget Our Invasions, Look at Our Culture!

The U.S. State Department, which has been widely criticized for ineffectual public diplomacy, recently announced its new "Global Cultural Initiative." It's a joint effort "to educate Americans and participating nations about other cultures," reports PR Week. U.S. PR czar Karen Hughes explained, "Public diplomacy isn't just the work of government. ... Every American who travels abroad or welcomes a foreign visitor can be an ambassador for America." As part of the initiative, the Kennedy Center will send U.S. performance artists overseas, including to Pakistan. The American Film Institute will showcase U.S. and foreign filmmakers at festivals. The National Endowment for the Arts will organize literary exchanges between the U.S. and Pakistan, Russia and other countries. The National Endowment for the Humanities will recruit foreign teachers for U.S. seminars. The State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, which leads the new initiative, has seen its budget triple since 2001, to $4.5 million for 2006.