Subtitled Essays on U.S. Public Diplomacy in the Middle East, Satloff's brief book gathers previously published articles from 2001-04 plus some new pieces into a useful compendium of the author's thoughtful analyses of the public diplomacy challenges America faces. Full of practical suggestions, this is no dusty tome but a useful and rousing call to action. Satloff's plea that we nurture a wide range of like-minded allies in this ideological struggle is a suggestion ignored at our peril: "the strategy to defeat Islamism must be rooted in promoting the sort of political, social and economic change within existing regimes that denies Islamists opportunities for growth, not in creating a reign of political chaos from which Islamists … stand to benefit most."
Satloff outlines a wide range of helpful initiatives, some which already exist (like English language teaching) but are in need of enhanced funding while others (such as promoting alternative media) are great ideas in search of innovative public diplomacy personnel and new budgets to make them happen. In his final essay, Satloff deftly identifies the structural barriers, most of which have their genesis inside the Beltway, that have hampered the development of an aggressive, consistent, and powerful strategy of ideological engagement with the Muslim world: "a lack of clarity, a lack of priorities, and a lack of urgency."
He was right on target with his criticism as of the book's publication, but this practitioner believes that considerable progress in the right direction began in August 2005 with the appointment of Karen Hughes as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy. Under her dynamic leadership, the battle of ideas has purposefully been joined.