Philip Seib, Director of USC's Center on Public Diplomacy, has some advice for U.S. public diplomacy in the Arab world:
- Encourage Israel to recognize Palestine's legitimacy, renew the Israel-Egypt peace treaty and offer assistance to new Arab regimes. Encourage Arab leaders to accept Israel's legitimacy.
- Propose a Marshall-esque Plan to promote civil society and infrastructure building in underdeveloped Arab nations.
- Redirect U.S. public diplomacy away from messaging toward service. ("In the Arab world, people simply don't care about such self-serving pronouncements. Anything that does not relate directly to their own lives is wasted effort.")
More significantly, it's a strategy that acknowledges the importance of promoting individual agency. Seib's suggestions aren't about the U.S. projecting a message or exporting policy. They focus on working with people in the Arab world to achieve their own society-building goals in a way that promotes peace and prosperity. Public diplomacy becomes the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness via the public sphere. It's a Music for the Jilted Generation approach that steps beyond open-source media to embrace open-source action.
Is it tenable? That remains to be seen. As The Washington Post reports, the hope of the Arab Spring is rapidly giving way to a harsh and challenging Summer. And the outcome for the region will depend on whether the Spring's rebels are able to direct their enthusiasm for overthrowing the old regimes into the difficult task of building new ones.