Bipartisan Policy Center Releases Groundbreaking Economic and Public Diplomacy Recommendations for U.S. Policymakers to Enhance Relations with Egypt and Offer a Path Forward for Democracy

Oct 12, 2011, 10:30 ET from Bipartisan Policy Center

General Jim Jones, Ambassador James Glassman, Secretary Dan Glickman Discuss Challenges and Solutions to the Crisis in Egypt

WASHINGTON, Oct. 12, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Bipartisan Policy Center's (BPC) National Security Project held a panel discussion today on the future of the country, its implications for the region and the challenges for U.S.-Egypt relations following last weekend's sectarian unrest in Egypt. The discussion followed the Project's release of two papers that offer concrete, constructive recommendations for U.S. policy going forward. Investing in the Revolution: Economics and Prospects for Democracy in Egypt, authored by BPC Senior Fellow and former National Security Advisor General (ret.) Jim Jones, assesses Egypt's economic crisis and its impact on democratic development in the post-revolution state. Strategic Public Diplomacy: The Case of Egypt, a case study of BPC's Strategic Public Diplomacy Initiative (SPDI), co-chaired by Ambassador James Glassman and former Secretary Dan Glickman, analyzes U.S. public diplomacy toward Egypt over the past 15 years and examines how such diplomacy can serve U.S strategic objectives today.  

Earlier this year, Egyptians took to the streets to topple Hosni Mubarak's authoritarian regime. Today, the revolution is marred by instability and disagreements about how the political transition should proceed. With 83 million people, Egypt is the most populous nation in the North Africa-Middle East region. For 30 years it has been an ally of the United States and a pillar of U.S. regional security policy.

"Where Egypt goes – whether it remains in chaos, moves toward democratic governance, into the arms of Islamists, or back to authoritarianism – the region is likely to follow," said Ambassador Glassman. "To navigate the transition, Egyptians need a free and fair debate about the future shape of their polity. We should not shirk from taking part in that discussion and expounding the virtues and values of democracy."

"The outcome of this unfinished revolution will have long-lasting repercussions for U.S.-Egypt relations, for security in the Middle East, and for U.S interests in the region," said General Jones. He added, "America can help Egypt fulfill the promise of its revolution by providing it with the three pillars of foreign assistance: political reform, economic development and security."

Egypt's economy is currently struggling. In 2011, Egypt's growth rate is expected to plummet to 1.6% or less, down from 5.1% in 2010. The absence of tangible economic improvements for the vast majority of Egyptians will undermine the revolution's success. "If Egypt doesn't get the economy right," said General Jones, "democracy stands little chance of taking root." Security, too, is a key factor. "Security sector reform is equally critical to democratic development," stressed Jones. "Egypt is reconstituting its state security apparatus, and Washington is not involved.  It should be."

Today's discussion also focused on the strategic importance of reaching out to Egyptian citizens through public diplomacy. "Egypt is an important test case for examining the efficacy of U.S. public diplomacy," said Glassman, who served as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy for President George W. Bush. BPC's Strategic Public Diplomacy Initiative's case study of Egypt is part of a longer project that examines the effectiveness of United States' public diplomacy in achieving strategic foreign policy objectives.

Since the protests in Cairo began, the dominant narrative in the media has been that the revolution in Egypt occurred without, or despite, American assistance and support. This narrative bodes ill, not only for Egyptians' opinion of America, but for the ability of the U.S. to work with Egypt—and other countries in the region—in the coming months and years.

SPDI analysis asserts that the U.S. did support the development of democracy in Egypt, and that public diplomacy efforts in Egypt have gained traction since 2001. But it also found that U.S. public diplomacy efforts are not fully aligned with overall strategic objectives. According to SPDI co-chair Dan Glickman, former CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, "U.S. public diplomacy has suffered from a lack of strategic direction. Even when U.S. foreign policy objectives are well defined, public diplomacy has struggled to adopt policies that support those goals. We have focused more on the means of communications without thorough consideration of the message."

Key Recommendations:

BPC's Strategic Public Diplomacy Initiative recommends three core lessons for policy makers and practitioners of public diplomacy:

  1. Public diplomacy—reaching out to non-government audiences—can complement official bilateral relations.
  2. Public diplomacy requires a strategy for achieving not just outreach to broad audiences but ways of advancing U.S. goals among those audiences.  
  3. Public diplomacy requires thoughtful messaging that advances its strategy.

To promote an equitable economy and a secure, democratic Egypt, BPC is urging U.S. policymakers to:

  1. Prioritize Egypt as a key focal point of U.S. aid and diplomacy.
  2. Maximize U.S./E.U. technical assistance.
  3. Press for a Free Trade Agreement between Egypt and the United States.
  4. Place conditions on financial assistance, such as the adoption of sound economic policies and reform.
  5. Encourage private-sector investment in Egypt's energy sector.
  6. Help Egypt to carry out security sector reform.

Washington has a stake in Egypt's future. It is in America's best interest that Egypt develop into a state that supports tolerance and peace. U.S. assistance can and should be conditional on Egypt's adopting such values. As BPC's Associate Director of Foreign Policy, Blaise Misztal, stressed, "The U.S. should be clear with the Egyptian public about what kind of state it can partner with. We should define clearly the kind of country we want to see, not which leader we do or do not want to lead."

BPC's National Security Project launched the Strategic Public Diplomacy Initiative this year to help re-conceptualize America's public diplomacy and outreach to audiences around the world. The Project's steering committee seeks to develop recommendations on ways to deploy U.S. public diplomacy to meet 21st century strategic challenges like the crisis in Egypt. To learn more about the Project, visit                              

About the Bipartisan Policy Center

Founded in 2007 by former U.S. Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole, and George Mitchell, Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) is a non-profit organization that drives principled solutions through rigorous analysis, reasoned negotiation and respectful dialogue.  With projects in multiple issue areas, BPC combines politically balanced policymaking with strong, proactive advocacy and outreach.

SOURCE Bipartisan Policy Center