Senator Larry Lee Pressler (Former US Senator of South Dakota)

18.05.2011 - Interview conducted by Katie Dickmeyer

Q1: Considering your past experience as a foreign services officer, what would you say have been the major reasons for the shift in the perception of the US by other countries? How will the US rise to the challenge of improving its image abroad? Will cultural diplomacy have a role to play in this?

Well, yes, I do think cultural diplomacy has a role to play. I was in the US State Department of the Foreign Service for three years. I encourage young people to join aid organizations, to join the Foreign Service for their country or go into business, especially international business which cannot be overlooked. This is all part of cultural diplomacy and I am glad I remembered to mention young business people. They can do a great deal in terms of cultural diplomacy by serving abroad or here, making products. Sometimes I think if we had had our businessmen in Cuba for many years, we might have had a different situation there. I think American businessmen serve us well overseas. This point is something I forgot to put into my speech, so thank you very much.

Q2: Technological advancements have dramatically changed communication allowing for interconnectivity over large spaces. Do you think such a change would allow for breakthroughs in conflict management, as faster more efficient communication could facilitate dialogue?

Well, I would like to say yes, but there is no evidence of this happening. We have had the internet since 1996 and we have had telecommunications for at long time as well. Nation states still behave similarly as they did previously. If you average out the availability of internet and telecommunications all over the world, there is no quantum leap in human rights or in the reduction of poverty. So we have got to find a way to use the internet and telecommunications better in order to achieve more. Everybody thinks that things are so much better or so much different but the statistics indicate they are not.  Therefore we are not getting the jobs done. However, we can renew our efforts and I think we have to do that.

Thank you for your time.