Skip to main content

US public diplomacy attempts to confront Islamic State

Richard Stengel, the latest US official tasked with trying to improve the US image abroad, concedes that trying to rebut those who believe the US created the Islamic State sometimes provokes the feeling that "you are beating your head against a wall."
Militant Islamist fighters wave flags as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province June 30, 2014. The fighters held the parade to celebrate their declaration of an Islamic "caliphate" after the group captured territory in neighbouring Iraq, a monitoring service said. The Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot previously known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), posted pictures online on Sunday of people waving black flags from cars and holding guns in

The Barack Obama administration is focusing its public diplomacy efforts on persuading “swing voters” in the Muslim world that the group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) is a bigger threat to them than US policies, the State Department’s top communications official says.

Richard Stengel, a former managing editor at Time who became undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs six months ago, told a Washington audience Sept. 16 that the US aim was not to fight a “battle of ideas” with committed members of IS, which he called “a criminal, savage, barbaric organization.”

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.