South Asia Center Nonresident Senior Fellow Barbara Slavin writes for Al-Monitor on US diplomatic efforts for combating the threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham: 

The Barack Obama administration is focusing its public diplomacy efforts on persuading “swing voters” in the Muslim world that the group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) is a bigger threat to them than US policies, the State Department’s top communications official says.

Richard Stengel, a former managing editor at Time who became undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs six months ago, told a Washington audience Sept. 16 that the US aim was not to fight a “battle of ideas” with committed members of IS, which he called “a criminal, savage, barbaric organization.”

Asked by Al-Monitor how the United States could convince the wider Muslim audience that the country was not somehow responsible for the rise of the terrorist group — a commonly held view in the Middle East because of the US invasion of Iraq and support, albeit tepid, for opposition to the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria — Stengel conceded, “This is a very difficult problem. The good news is that pretty much everybody hates [IS]. The bad news is that a lot of people think we are responsible, which is absurd.”

Read the full article here.

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