Karen Hughes, mission accomplished

Another member of Bush's inner circle packs up for home.

Published October 31, 2007 3:35PM (EDT)

Here's Condoleezza Rice, announcing the resignation today of Karen Hughes, the Bush inner-circle stalwart who has been working since 2005 as the undersecretary of state for public diplomacy:

"When I asked Karen to come, I asked her to come and to help us make public diplomacy strong and central to the mission of transformational diplomacy, and she has done that. She's done it in spectacular fashion ... If I could put on one sheet all of the things that Karen has achieved, I would do so, but it would take me a quite long time to talk about her achievements."

Rice proceeded to tick off a few of Hughes' "achievements," but they were all what we might call "process-oriented." She "cared about the people she has overseen"; she "built a strong organization"; she "made it possible for every ambassador around the world to feel comfortable going out and talking about America's message"; she "institutionalized" a "rapid response unit that every day lets people know what Washington is thinking"; she created a Counterterrorism Communications Center "so that we are able to work to counter the message of terrorists and to spread, instead, a message of hope and democracy."

As for the actual results of this work?

Rice didn't say much, nor could she.

From a Pew Global Attitudes Project report dated June 2007: "The U.S. image remains abysmal in most Muslim countries in the Middle East and Asia, and continues to decline among the publics of many of America's oldest allies. Favorable views of the U.S. are in single digits in Turkey (9 percent) and have declined to 15 percent in Pakistan. Currently, just 30 percent of Germans have a positive view of the U.S. -- down from 42 percent as recently as two years ago -- and favorable ratings inch ever lower in Great Britain and Canada."

The State Department's Web site says one of Hughes' "strategic objectives" as undersecretary for public diplomacy was to "offer throughout the world a positive vision of hope and opportunity that is rooted in America's belief in freedom, justice, opportunity and respect for all."

Again, from Pew, two years into Hughes' tenure: "In much of the world there is broad and deepening dislike of American values and a global backlash against the spread of American ideas and customs. Majorities or pluralities in most countries surveyed say they dislike American ideas about democracy -- and this sentiment has increased in most regions since 2002."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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