Saturday, October 25th, 2014

The Obameter

Launch a new 'America's Voice Corps'


"Obama also would launch a new 'America's Voice Corps' to rapidly recruit and train fluent speakers of local languages (Arabic, Bahasa Melayu, Bahasa, Farsi, Urdu, and Turkish) with public diplomacy skills, who can ensure our voice is heard in the mass media and in our efforts on the ground."


Updates

America’s Voice Corps still unsung

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to "launch a new 'America's Voice Corps' to rapidly recruit and train fluent speakers of local languages (Arabic, Bahasa Melayu, Bahasa, Farsi, Urdu, and Turkish) with public diplomacy skills, who can ensure our voice is heard in the mass media and in our efforts on the ground."

We did a search of various online databases and consulted several years of State Department budgetary documents and found no recent mentions of this effort.

We also checked with public diplomacy expert William P. Kiehl, a former official in the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. He's also the founding president of PD Worldwide International Consultants, a firm specializing in international public affairs and cross-cultural communications. He said the administration had not created such a program.

In the absence of any tangible evidence of this program, we're rating this a Promise Broken.

Sources:

State Department, fiscal year 2013 Department of State Operations Congressional Budget Justification (index page), 2012

Email interview with William P. Kiehl, president and CEO of PD Worldwide International Consultants, Nov. 5, 2012

"America's Voice Corps" is silent for now

During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to "launch a new 'America's Voice Corps' to rapidly recruit and train fluent speakers of local languages (Arabic, Bahasa Melayu, Bahasa, Farsi, Urdu, and Turkish) with public diplomacy skills, who can ensure our voice is heard in the mass media and in our efforts on the ground."
 
However, we did a search of Whitehouse.gov, Google and Nexis and found no recent mentions of this effort.
 
Equally notable, the president's fiscal year 2010 budget request for the State Department makes no mention of this program. While the administration is putting an emphasis on language capabilities, there is no evidence that this particular program is being pursued.
 
Until any tangible evidence of progress emerges, we're rating this promise Stalled.

Sources:

State Department, budget request , fiscal year 2010