Neo-cons Spinning Hearts and Minds

"As the George W. Bush administration struggles through its last two years in office, it appears that the agenda of neoconservative ideologues has finally lost its appeal among strategic parts of the U.S. foreign policy apparatus," writes Khody Akhavi. "But as their influence has waned at the Pentagon and State Department, neo-conservative hawks have taken charge on the battlefield of public diplomacy. ... Right-wing hawks have gained control of the weapons in the 'war of ideas' -- U.S. government-funded and supported media outlets such as Voice of America (VOA), Al-Hurra, and Radio Farda, which broadcast to the Middle East." Neo-con polemicist Jeffrey Gedmin has taken over Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and U.S.-sponsored stations are now highlighting interviews with prominent neocons like Richard Perle and Michael Rubin. "As a result," Akhavi writes, "viewers and listeners of U.S.-supported media in the Middle East are being exposed to a tougher ideological line that endorses the hallmarks of the neoconservative agenda — regime change and interventionist policies in the region." According to Joshua Muravchik of the American Enterprise Institute, the change will help improve America's image in the Middle East because "We are, after all, a movement whose raison d'etre was combating anti-Americanism in the United States. Who better then to combat it abroad?" According to political science professor Marc Lynch, however, the opposite is likely to be true. He notes that Al-Hurra recently promoted an interview with John Bolton, who "is particularly disliked in the Arab world, and his complaints about anti-American bias at the UN will repel more Arab viewers than it could hope to impress. But the Wall Street Journal loves him... and of course that's the only audience which really matters for al-Hurra anymore."