Wow. Our experiment is off to a great start—let's see if we can finish it off sooner than expected.
The most important starting point is to recognise that American policy is the most critical issue. No amount of public diplomacy will convince Arabs or Muslims to embrace American actions they detest. The Bush administration’s conception of public diplomacy generally involved putting lipstick on a pig — attempting to sell policies formulated in isolation from their likely reception. Even when public diplomacy officials had a seat at the table, they have had little influence on shaping decisions.
Improved public diplomacy from Obama — including his still unscheduled big speech in a Muslim capital — will be valuable, but only if it's accompanied by policy changes as well. Getting out of Iraq will help. Seriously engaging in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process will help. And supporting democracy more consistently will help. But if the PIPA poll is accurate, it's going to be a long, hard slog. There's a helluva lot of ground to be made up.