POLITICS-US: NEO-CONS SPINNING HEARTS AND MINDS
As the George W. Bush administration struggles through its last two years in office, it appears that the agenda of neoconservative ideologues has finally lost its appeal among strategic parts of the U.S. foreign policy apparatus.
But as their influence has waned at the Pentagon and State Department, neo-conservative hawks have taken charge on the battlefield of public diplomacy.
Intent on fixing what American Enterprise Institute (AEI) fellow Joshua Muravchik termed Bush's "public diplomacy mess," right-wing hawks have gained control of the weapons in the "war of ideas" -- U.S. government-funded and supported media outlets such as Voice of America (VOA), Al-Hurra, and Radio Farda, which broadcast to the Middle East and aim to offer an alternative view of the news.
The recent appointment of Jeffrey Gedmin, a veteran neo-conservative polemicist, as the director of Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty (RFE), and a smear campaign that led to the recent resignation of Larry Register, Al-Hurra's former news director, appears to herald a turn towards more ideologically rigid programming.
As a result, viewers and listeners of U.S.-supported media in the Middle East are being exposed to a tougher ideological line that endorses the hallmarks of the neoconservative agenda -- regime change and interventionist policies in the region.
"No group other than neocons is likely to figure out how to do that," wrote Muravchik, in a December 2006 article in Foreign Policy magazine entitled "Operation Comeback", a reference to the declining influence of neo-conservatives in the Bush administration. "We are, after all, a movement whose raison d'etre was combating anti-Americanism in the United States. Who better then to combat it abroad?"