Saturday, February 26, 2005

# Posted 6:14 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

PUBLIC DIPLOMACY: In today's WaPo, four former directors of the US Information Agency argue that we cannot overcome widespread anti-Americanism unless we spend more on public diplomacy. Naturally, I favor additional spending on that front. However, the column's authors seem to forget that there is a difference between form and substance.

Countless images of jubilant Iraqis waving their purple fingers in the air did more to sway public opinion across the globe than any of our embassies' public affairs officers ever could. It was an image that was authentic. It was an image that no amount of money could buy.

Which isn't to say that it wasn't expensive. The was has cost around $200 billion. Preparations for the January vote probably costs tens of millions. But no amount of money could have persuaded millions of Iraqi to risk their lives at the polls if they didn't believe that elections matter. That is why photos of the purple fingers are priceless.
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