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Friday, July 9, 2010

Where is the State Department's Public Diplomacy?

The following News item was reported not too long ago (

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden revealed his plans to improve relations between America's space exploration agency and the Muslim world to Al Jazeera before Congress, the Washington Examiner reported.

Bolden called a couple of lawmakers with the news on June 28, after his interview with the Middle East news organization but before it aired, the newspaper reported.

"He ran down some of the things from the president's new space policy, and mentioned outreach to Muslims," Rep. Pete Olson, the top Republican on the House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics recalled to the newspaper. "That stunned me. I didn't believe it."

Bolden's interview with Al Jazeera ignited a firestorm of controversy that has gone largely unreported by major news outlets. Michael Griffin, the NASA administrator during the latter half of the Bush administration told that he believes the Muslim outreach plan is "deeply flawed."

"NASA ... represents the best of America. Its purpose is not to inspire Muslims or any other cultural entity," he said...

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News likes this leads one to wonder why NASA was asked to engage in outreach to the Muslim world rather than some agency of the US Department of State or US Information Service. After all, NASA is theoretically about space exploration, astronomy, engineering,and other empirical sciences; public diplomacy seems rather far from such concerns.

One wonders what the current administration is thinking!

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