Winning Hearts, Minds and Arabic Blogs

Karen Hughes VNRThe Washington Times reports on the U.S. State Department's "digital outreach team," mentioned in a recent interview by Karen Hughes, the Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. "We want to make sure that U.S. views are present in the Arabic cyberspace," said the State Department's Jeremy Curtin. "The first step of success is to be there and have people respond. ... The second step is to engage in a conversation. We try to adopt an informal tone, and we are careful what we say." The State Department team "recently began a thread" on, asking, "Will violence end in Iraq if U.S. forces withdraw?" In another online engagement described by Curtin, participants challenged "accusations that the U.S. military is engaged in widespread rape of men and women in Iraq." A team member explained, "I stated that, when there have been cases of misconduct by U.S. soldiers against Iraqi civilians, a legal process has been implemented. I also said allegations that such misconduct is widespread are untrue and unproven."