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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 November 2007, 10:23 GMT
American perspective
On Sunday 04 November Andrew Marr interviewed Colleen Graffy US State Department

Please note "The Andrew Marr Show" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

Colleen Graffy
Colleen Graffy

ANDREW MARR: My first guest is a senior member of the State Department, who's a great believer in getting outside the Washington bubble, as she calls it, to find out how America is viewed overseas.

No stranger to Britain, she once headed Republicans Abroad here, Colleen Graffy is Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bush Administration and has been in London this week to pose the following question: what is the US doing to improve its image abroad?

Well of course the big issues just now are Iran and Pakistan, so welcome. But let's start if we may with Pakistan.

President Musharraf has been seen very much as, you know, America's ally, America's man, if you like, in Pakistan. If as a result of this crisis he disappears, is that a terribly dangerous thing for America?

COLLEEN GRAFFY: Well the whole situation in Pakistan is very disappointing and the US does not support these extra constitutional measures. The hope is that as soon as possible Pakistan will return towards the democratic path, will return towards the path of civilian rule, and that this takes place without violence as well.

ANDREW MARR: A lot of people see that Musharraf as fighting the Americans war, if you like, in the north, in Waziristan. Around the world people have been concentrating, inevitably, in Iran and Iraq, but perhaps we should be concentrating more on Pakistan, it's a nuclear power already after all, and it's very, very unstable?

COLLEEN GRAFFY: Well the United States has been working well with Pakistan in that they are allies and trying to root out this extremism, working with police forces on the border. But going beyond the hard power to also the soft power of how do we engage the people?

How do we turn people away from extremism to begin with, help them to build schools, help them for example to set up obstetric clinics in rural areas. These are some of the things that make a difference to people's lives and can also help turn from extremism to the path of a democratic country.

ANDREW MARR: Musharraf is however, you know, your big ally in this part of the world. Are you going to back him come what may?

COLLEEN GRAFFY: Well the message has been very clear that they need to deal with these issues within the constitution, and using extra constitutional measures is not the way to sort this out.

ANDREW MARR: Let's turn to Iran, because that's the great other issue on the agenda at the moment. Europe and America taking different attitudes at the moment. You've said that al Quds brigade of the revolutionary guard are a terrorist organisation and no one should do business with them. It's pretty clear in France and other European countries they're worried about this again.

COLLEEN GRAFFY: Well I would differ from you that we're not taking different paths, in fact the fact is that Europe and the United States are united, dealing multilaterally on Iran, multilaterally on the first round of sanctions, on the second round of sanctions, so the US and Europe and working very closely together. Now the sanctions that were identified are specific to Iranian actions in Iraq and that's clearly something that the United States has had to do to prevent the interference of Iran in the area. But again, I'll turn to the soft power because we have reached out for the first time since 1979 to re-instigate the Fulbright Programme, of bringing Fulbright scholars from Iran to the United States.

ANDREW MARR: But you've still got the, if I may say so, you've got the crowds back on the streets of Tehran this morning shouting "death to America" as before. Is this a confrontation you can't get out of? I mean it's not something for which there is a soft power answer, is there?

COLLEEN GRAFFY: Well I think there is, in that you can be dealing diplomatically with Iran, working with allies on sanctions, but also reaching out to the people to explain that it's the regime that's the problem, not the people. And I read the thousands chanting in the street and I just wondered what would they be doing if they were allowed to go out and say what they wanted to freely? In fact, further in the article it describes the students were told to go out by their teachers, and they thought, actually this would be a nice diversion from school. So we're looking out on how we can reach out to the people - bringing the Iranian wrestling team to the United States, we've brought artists, they've put on a fantastic exhibit in Washington DC. So let's engage on people-to-people diplomacy.

ANDREW MARR: All right. Now your message, people-to-people diplomacy, has been that after Guantanamo Bay and the worst crisis, I suppose, in European-American history for some time, things are now better in terms of America's relations. Do you have evidence for this?

COLLEEN GRAFFY: Well, I was interested to see the cover story on News Week. Is this the decline of anti-Americanism? I guess the question that I posed is, is it in the best interest of Britain, of Europe, of the world, that there is this knee-jerk negative reaction to the United States? Because there is so much that America is doing with fighting HIV Aids. Europe can't do it alone, America can't do it alone. Together we can actually make a difference. Poverty reduction, people care about that. Avian flu, we all have concerns about these issues. So why not be understanding the need to have a positive partnership working together?

COLLEEN GRAFFY: And yet the statistics, I mean the PEW research and so on, that you'll be aware of, suggests that anti-American feeling is on the rise.

COLLEEN GRAFFY: Well you can't sort of make a blanket statement. You have to go country to country, and we listen very closely on the concerns of each nation. For example, in Turkey the polling is very low, but when you look at what's happening, we have over 12,000 Turks that are coming to America as students, more than any other European country. And what is the concern of Turkey? It's about the PKK, and they want America to be doing more and we want to do more.

ANDREW MARR: What about Europe? Because there was a period when with President Chirac in power in France and so on, Europe was perceived as being very anti-American in some of its attitudes around the time of the war. And yet there's been lots of changes of leadership, not least in this country. How do you read Gordon Brown, how do you read the new French president?

COLLEEN GRAFFY: Well changes of leadership, but also I think changes in attitude. There was a time when Europe saw itself as it needed to be a counterweight to America, and some thought, oh America just wants a weak and divided Europe. But they're realising that, and all the polling shows that, Europeans want cooperation and not competition with the United States. They want us to be working together, having resolved, or almost finishing resolving the issues in Europe, working together to resolve global problems.

ANDREW MARR: Colleen Graffy thank you very much indeed for coming in. Thanks a lot.


NB: This transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy

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