US Hones in on Propaganda War

The Bush administration and members of Congress have called for renewed efforts to improve America's image in the Islamic world, with Bush worrying aloud that the U.S. is losing the propaganda war to Islamic extremists. "I'm amazed that there's such misunderstanding of what our country is about that people would hate us," Bush said. "We've got to do a better job of making our case." An expensive advertising campaign in the Arab world, coupled with beefed-up Voice of America broadcasts, is making little headway as these PR efforts encounter a skeptical audience. According to Lee Mcknight, Director of the Edward R. Murrow Center at Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, the government will have to go beyond propaganda if it wants to influence hearts and minds. "No amount of media management will matter if the US is not also seen -- and actually working on -- ways to resolve some of the intractable conflicts which have served to feed fanaticism and anti-US sentiment throughout many Arabic and Islamic nations," he said. The president's publicly expressed inability to understand why America has drawn the ire of the Arab world, evidenced by his remarks at Thursday's press conference, is a troubling example of the single biggest reason for America's sinking image. "We can't convince anyone we're right if we don't understand their point of view," McKnight said.