Sunday 8 February 2009

The PD Discourse Gap

The PD Discourse Gap

Are policy makers capable of overcoming the cognitive dissonance they would experience if they learned Arabic, read some newspapers and spoke to some ordinary Arab people and realised that they're actually intelligent, rational people who mostly dislike US policies rather than US people?

That has got to be quite a shock to the system.

The whole strategic communication system (and more importantly the whole US foreign policy system) is set up on the assumption that they 'just don't get us'. This to-know-us-is-to-love-us thesis allows for the continued belief in both the universality of western ideals and the importance of those ideals to the east/west conflict.

(For the most part) they don't hate our 'freedom', they hate our policies.

Isn't that just the answer nobody wants to hear from a practitioner's perspective? How can you go to your boss and say 'hey, actually we need to stop screwing people around, go and tell Hillary'. It just won't fly very far.

How can anyone genuinely 'listen' (i.e. listen, hear and act) without 'going native'?