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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration Officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Today's guest: Director of the Office of Global Communications, Tucker Eskew

Tucker Eskew
July 10, 2003

Tucker Eskew
Hi, my name is Tucker Eskew and I'm here to take some questions about Global Communications and the President's message to the world. Thanks for logging on, let's get started.

Tom, from Arcadia writes:
It is interesting how Afghanistan rarely is mentioned anymore in the news. What is the state of this country? Do women have more rights? Are they moving in the right direction? A sidenote, what is Karen Hughes doing these days? She is brilliant and I miss seeing her on TV.

Tucker Eskew
I saw a good, fresh take on the situation in Afghanistan in USA Today the other day. Here's a link -

Afghanistan has a long hard path ahead, but progress has been good -- as the President said last week, the people there are "a world away from the nightmare they endured under the Taliban."

The President's national security strategy puts our mission there in context: September 11 taught us that weak nations can pose as great a danger to our national interests as strong states.

Amy, from Boston writes:
Dear Tucker, I just completed a 2 year expatriate assignment in London and want to thank you and your office for the daily Global Messenger which made me feel connected to my home country and to the President's daily activities while abroad. Have you considered setting up overseas forums in major cities led by your team to reach out to expatriate Americans? I would think to do so would serve three purposes: to keep overseas Americans informed, to reinforce US foreign policy, to remind nations that American companies and citizens play a vital role in their own economies.

Tucker Eskew
Hello fellow London returnee - I spent five months there working with the Blair government during our military campaign in Afghanistan and gained a lot from the experience -- including great interaction with expats. As for the idea of more dialogue, you're onto something. I know many of our embassies tap into the expat community; I also know that American citizens are great ambassadors. Whether traveling for business or holiday, we all portray the cultures and values of America. More interaction with audiences overseas is an ongoing mission of this Administration as we promote understanding and cooperation that serves our mutual interests.

heri, from indonesia writes:
Thanks and good morning, I'm interested in taking communication as my major, it's my grateful intention, you got any idea about the best impact of communication on leadership ? and what do you think of President Bush way of communication so far ?

Tucker Eskew
Hello Heri -

Leadership and effective communication are inextricably linked. Strong leaders who communicate clear goals can rally nations to great causes, as President Bush continues to do in the long and difficult struggle against terror.

The President is very results-oriented. That means we're not here to spin our way into winning one day's or even one week's news cycle. Our job in the Office of Global Communications, and across the many agencies and offices we work with, is to communicate clearly and consistently about the Administration's principles, the policies that result, the programs that then get carried out, and then the results that ensue. That series of communications requires keeping an eye on the distant horizon and knowing where you want to go. The President keeps us focused that way, very effectively I believe.

Robert, from Naperville writes:
What prepared you the most for your job?

Tucker Eskew
Specifically, I'd say the half-year or so I spent in London - working with No. 10 and the Prime Minister's superb team, as well as our embassy and others there - ranks at or near the top. I gained much better insight into how we're viewed by immersing myself in the British and European press, as well as the opinions of real Brits in their real lives.

In general, working for President Bush, including when he was candidate Bush, as well as my previous work for South Carolina Governor Carroll Campbell, really taught me the tools of my trade.

Peter, from Columbia, SC writes:
My professor told me that the U.S. once had libraries all over the world where the public could come to learn about the United States. Today, these libraries no longer exist. Do you think this is an important way for our country to communicate with the world? In what other ways are we trying to inform the world about the U.S.?

Tucker Eskew
Good question, and hello Cola.,

Your government, in many agencies and offices, does sponsor information Programs, including the American corners in libraries; there's also extensive information available on the U.S. Government's foreign language websites and the State Department sponsors speaking tours for academics, business leaders, local politicians, activists, artists to exchange information about America. State also sponsors many international visitor programs. The aforementioned Tony Blair is an alum of one such program in this country.

Of course, you can't forget broadcasting - with the stakes so high around the world, we broadcast the truth far and wide -- here are a few examples: Radio Sawa (most popular radio station in Amman, Jordan, for example); Middle East Television Network (coming to satellite dishes in the region this fall); Radio Farda to Iran and new satellite television to Iran. Lots of others under VOA and so on.

The web, broadcasting, our public affairs officers and ambassadors around the world, and more.

See the OGC website for more, including daily "global message updates": /ogc

Thanks, better keep going...

Matt, from Raleigh writes:
If you were stuck on a stranded island and you had one cd, what would it be? Come on, Don Evans answered the question........

Tucker Eskew
My desert island disc (only one?! c'mon...) would be

Tramp on Your Street by Shaver - the band led by a great fellow with big talent and a soul to match, Billy Joe Shaver.

The best recording of the 90s...Funny, serious, spiritual, down-to-earth, rockin', twangy, bluesy -- and most of all, real. That would sustain my island life.

Craig, from Rumson, New Jersey writes:
How does communications between the Whitehouse and talk radio hosts, columnists, and pundits work? Is it much harder communicating with non-english speaking countries? Thanks

Tucker Eskew
Our foreign service staff, military public affairs officers, public diplomacy experts, and foreign media translators and monitors do so much of the work that helps us understand the opinion climate overseas. The foreign press centers in the US, run by State, work closely with OGC and the NSC - they're a super resource.

At the White House, we focus on the President's agenda and top priorities. Right now, I'd say that (in no particular order) the focus is on the renewal of Iraq and Afghanistan, Middle East peace and civil society, African AIDS and famine, and relations with Europe, as well as the ongoing fight against proliferation. Basically, though this might be more than you asked for, we're focused on the President's message of dignity, peace, and freedom. It's hard to get that across through foreign press, but we know this challenge of foreign opinion toward the US is a long-term effort and we're hard at work on it.

Kathleen, from Charleston, SC writes:
Before the war in Iraq, you predicted that the 'results we get for peace' would boost the U.S. image abroad. Have we achieved those results?

Tucker Eskew
We are achieving those results, Kathleen. I'm proud to say that the men and women of America and our coalition partners have driven Saddam from power and away from fostering terror inside and outside Iraq. These men and women have got a big job in reconstructing Iraq, not so much as a result of the war, but in response to 30+ years of atrocity and decay.

Iraq has a noble history; it's got a bright future. President Bush is resolved to stay as long as necessary, but not one day longer.

If any of you want to size up life pre-war and post-Saddam, take a look at two web pages that illustrate (in Iraqis own words) the horror and the joy, respectively:

Tales of Saddam's Brutality
Liberation Update

Those of you looking for a quicker fix can read below instead:

  • “This is a new sense of freedom for us. We are not in a very secure society yet, but at least we can say whatever we like.” - Firas Behnam, in Baghdad, Knight Ridder, 6/23/03
  • “When I leave my job at night, I am very happy, very proud about myself. We must help the Americans, and show them our traditions.” - Suhair Karmasha, the first Iraqi woman to work with the Americans at Baghdad’s city hall, The Washington Post, 6/17/03
  • "It wasn’t the fall of Baghdad. It was the rise of Baghdad." - Hasem Ali, 52, an Iraqi in London, Los Angeles Times, 5/7/03

Regan, from southern virginia writes:
What do you think of the old europe new europe comments?

Tucker Eskew
Hello Regan,

The Secretary of Defense has taken questions on that, including during his close work with European counterparts; I wouldn’t add anything except to quote the President and his National Security Advisor.

The President, speaking in Krakow in May, gave a visionary speech and said, “To meet these goals of security and peace and a hopeful future for the developing world, we welcome, we need the help, the advice and the wisdom of our European friends and allies.”

And Dr. Rice, in London a couple weeks ago, said, “We are rapidly closing the book on centuries of European conflict, and opening a new, more hopeful chapter in which Europe is whole, free, and at peace for the first time in its history. Next year, ten European nations will join the European Union; seven will join NATO. Russia is our partner. Lingering conflicts, such as those in the Balkans, are being put to rest.” Those steps are being taken with the President’s active support and engagement.

John, from NYC writes:
What is it OUR responsibility to take care of AIDS in Africa? Where is the European Union? What about Japan? There are many other countries that can assist. Why is it ALWAYS America that has to take care of the world?

Tucker Eskew
The President has spoken out forcefully in calling the world to action on this. Other nations can and should assist (and in many cases they are).

Thanks for asking (as I see several of you have) about the Africa trip...the President has a positive agenda for Africa -- on humanitarian issues like AIDS and famine relief, but also helping Africa develop its potential. The African Growth and Opportunity Act is doing promoting African products so that markets are available. That’s really the best way to alleviate poverty long-term.

His proposal for a 50% increase in development aid, -- Millennium Challenge Accounts -- requires good governance and transparency, and it addresses the need for nations to invest in the health and education of their people in order to get our support. It also focuses on the importance of free markets. It focuses on ending corruption.

This President takes seriously Africa, its leaders, and the potential to be a continent contributing to world growth and prosperity. That's in our national interest, it's in keeping with our security needs, and our role as a compassionate leader in the world.

argaret, from covington tenessee writes:
i supported president bush 100 percent no questions asked, 100 percent total trust. well i am saddened by seeing on the news about how our troops are killed by these unorganized groups of iraquis. are there plans to with drawl our troops or are there plans to give them more support!!!!!

Tucker Eskew
Hi to Tennessee...and thanks for the chance to underscore the President's resolve. As I mentioned earlier, we've got challenges in Iraq and we're lucky to have our military (and many others, both American and from coalition countries) on the job there.

The attacks by dead-enders, Baathists, foreign-backed extremists, and even petty looters often take place where we are reestablishing infrastructure, maintaining security and stability and laying the foundations for a renewed Iraq. Those goals are directly linked to our security, peace in the world, and the reduction in the "freedom deficit" in that part of the world.

Bradley, from Sacramento writes:
If you could choose, who would you select as Governor of California?
A. Arnold Schwarzenegger
B. Condoleezza Rice
C. Mick Jagger
D. Eric Draper

Tucker Eskew
I may be focused on the citizens of other nations, but (if I could choose and if I were in any way involved, which I am not) I'd immediately drop the Brit and say great things about the three GREAT Californians, no matter their aspirations. The two I really know, here at the White House, are the kind of public servants and talented people you just want to watch at work. Sheer perfection in action.

Thomas, from DC writes:
Tucker Is your operation 24/7 now? The world is getting smaller and with the preponderance of cable tv and the internet, do you all get ANY sleep? :

Tucker Eskew
The question is, how do I get any sleep with a five week old son!

The staff here at OGC, and the public affairs/diplomacy colleagues we work closely with, are a dedicated bunch who have their nose to the grindstone and their eyes on the long-term goal. (How's that for a visual?)


Tucker Eskew
Time to go, back to work. This was enjoyable -- too many questions to answer them all, but thanks to everyone for participating and thanks to the WH web team for their hard work.

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