America's new circus diplomacy and the Muslim world

Well, well, well… a high-power Texan lady has been chosen as a “carpet clown” to work among an upset Muslim audience to try and make them understand what America is all about! Karen Hughes, an evangelist for the neo-conservative cause, will preach to Mohamed’s followers the social and political virtuosity of this land of ours.

What will the diplomatic big top get in Karen Hughes? Aside from her intellectual and pragmatic capabilities, a person with strong convictions… convictions which probably have experienced little change from those she held while in high-school three decades ago.

One often expects a youth coming from a military-religious background, such as hers, to rebel and question the ideas surrounding a conservative upbringing. Not the case with Karen Hughes. Her clear ideas about democracy, the US role in the world and the perceived lurking menace to destroy America fashioned a perfect cloak to preserve her pristine conservative ideas… as a journalism student at Southern Methodist University; as a reporter of Texas-style politics; as a practitioner of politics; and, finally, as a presidential adviser and White House mother-hen.

For all her social skills and likableness, Karen Hughes’ views of the world, completely attuned to those of the man she serves and his Administration coreligionists, will not change minds, or hearts in the Arab nations… or the Muslim world of which they are part. Muslims, much like other people from East or West, need first and foremost a measure of respect… respect in words that are then translated into deeds, not sermons from diplomatic pulpits or juggling acts of deceit, even if very proper and acceptable in much of the West under the guise of public relations.

That respect can only start and end with the words and deeds of President Bush, and no one else. Of course, the man in the White House, for the litany of mistakes and misdeeds, is not a mea-culpa person, and never has been. So, instead, Muslims will get Ambassador Karen Hughes, a brand new undersecretary of state for public diplomacy… but more to the point, someone viewed by Mr. Bush as an “advance man” for America ’s diplomatic circus, doubling up during performance as “carpet clown.”

America ’s foreign policy is not about to change. Bush is just sending the Muslim people an emissary who, in his mind, can clarify all the good things they may “misconstrue” or simply not understand about America , democracy, freedom and the pursuit of happiness. “Just get to know us and you’ll love us” has become the new circus theme.

But is it a question of misunderstanding America ’s foreign policy, or rather one of understanding it all too well? Does it really have to do with bipolar worlds: East vs. West, ancient vs. modern, fanaticism vs. enlightenment, “good” vs. “evil”?

For all that has been written by members of academe and think tanks on the subject of this purported confrontation, there has been much unnecessary confusion and pseudo social science, created more often than not to advance a particular viewpoint… truth be damned!

Most Christians believe that they are born with, or are carriers of, the “original sin.” In a similar but secular way, and more than a belief a fact, Americans enter political life with an inherited “original disease,” catalogued by many in the world of diplomacy as catastrophic: a virulently unjust foreign policy, carrying a particularly aggressive strain when interacting with the Muslim world.

This strain in foreign policy, at a formative stage in the 1920’s and 1930’s, started less as an anti-Muslim stand and more of a pro-Zionist buildup. By the 1960’s, it had matured to become a strong citadel in America ’s foreign policy, one which made Israel an unassailable subject of criticism in the US . To deny that from within would be nothing short of American self-denial; to deny that from without implies ignorance of America and its composition of power. So much for any reasonable mediation the US could offer on the Israeli-Palestine issue.

Simplistic, you say? Perhaps to some… but truth is seldom complicated, while lies and deceit often are.

If America is to stop criticism of its diplomatic circus performance in the Muslim world, review and revision of its foreign policy are in order. Far more could be accomplished in introducing democracy to the Middle East , and at a lesser price, if meddling is replaced by influence… doing so with an open heart, wholesome intentions and always with prudence and reason leading the way.

America ’s diplomatic circus has proven to be no Cirque du Soleil, but a decrepit and dated Ringling Brothers… so perhaps it’s high time that the circus menu is changed and the foreign policy act revamped… before sending in the clowns.