Thursday, December 15, 2005

My new piece in the American Conservative

Karen Hughes (and State Department's democratic crusader Paula Dobriansky)

My article on Karen Hughe's Mission Impossible which was published in the December 19, 2005, issue of The American Conservative is now available on the internet:

December 19, 2005 IssueCopyright © 2005 The American Conservative
Innocent Abroad
Karen Hughes’s mission impossible

By Leon Hadar

A few years ago, I participated in a workshop taught by a well-known marketing guru who guaranteed in a brochure that after a few sessions with him “you’ll be even able to sell ice to Eskimos, sand to Bedouins, and condoms to eunuchs.” I suppose that if an updated brochure were issued in late 2005, in the fifth year of the presidency of George W. Bush and at a time when according to the Pew Research Center “anti-Americanism is deeper and broader now than at any time in modern history,” the celebrated PR whiz-kid would add to his marketing mission-impossible list the selling of a very unappealing product—the Bush administration’s foreign policy, AKA Democratic Empire—to an unreceptive global target audience that includes Eskimos (“Let’s make the North Pole safe for democracy”), Bedouins (“From the guys who brought you Lawrence of Arabia: won’t you buy a used camel from Bush?”), and perhaps even a few eunuchs.
Enter Karen Hughes, our new global PR czarina, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy. After reading the press coverage of her tragicomic odyssey among the believers in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Indonesia, and Malaysia—perhaps best described as “My Travels with Texas Karen the Infidel in the Lands of Ishmael”—one can assume that the only way the geniuses at Foggy Bottom could have turned that trip into more of a disaster for the American brand name would have been to choose Ray Stevens’s 1962 hit, “Ahab the Arab” as Madame Ambassador Hughes’s theme song for her Mideast excursion, which was billed as a “listening tour.” “Let me tell you about Ahab the Arab, the sheik of the burning sand. … He wore a big ol’ turban wrapped around his head. … he’d jump on his camel named Clyde, and ride”
Even without Ahab the Arab and Clyde the Camel to accompany her, the voyages of America’s top public diplomat to the Middle East and Southeast Asia turned into major media fiascos that will probably be taught one day in how-not-to-sell-your-product marketing classes or at least recalled as another of those what-were-they-thinking Washington mysteries.

(read the rest here and subscribe to The American Conservative which is the most original and throught provoking magazine around).

I've received great feedback to the article, including from two individuals who work in the State Department and another one who was involved indirectly in coordinating Hughe's Middle East incusion.