Karen Hughes Visits Airport, Discovers Palestine
Posted by Heather Hurlburt
Last week, Karen Hughes gave an interview on National Public Radio's Morning Edition in which she described two "discoveries:" one, that much negative foreign opinion is driven by perceptions of the US role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and two, that Americans and foreigners must stand in separate lines in airport immigration, and that the process as a whole is not very "welcoming."
I guess I should be pleased that she is open-minded enough to learn on the job... not everyone is.
Now, many Americans travel abroad infrequently or never and have no reason to know how off-putting it is to arrive at the older parts of New York's Kennedy Airport, for example, or the giant scrum that Washington Dulles has turned into. Most Americans who work in international affairs, however, have known it since they were quite young. Her proposed solution: videos depicting American life that we could all watch while we were standing in the aforementioned lines.
Maybe the sniffing dogs could jump through hoops when off-duty, too.
But if she really didn't understand until now how much perceptions of Palestinian suffering, fair or unfair, drive public opinion in the Islamic world, then she just can't have done any reading in the months before she took the public diplomacy job -- or the months since.
Again, I admire someone who will admit to learning in middle age. And if she really
"came back from my first trip and relayed to both the secretary (of State) and the president that, to the extent that we could be seen as visibly working to improve life for the Palestinian people," which would improve the U.S. image across the world.
I admire that too. I don't have the impression that too many people have personally told the President that he's not doing enough on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
But is it too much to ask that someone placed in this sort of job would have read in and know these things, or take fewer than six months to learn them?
(She also told NPR's Steve Inskeep that
This is not something that I expect will change probably much in... the less than three years we have left in the Bush administration.
which may indicate that she in fact has understood the job quite well.