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OUTSPOKEN: A Conversation With James K. Glassman

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Markets in turmoil? No worries. James K. Glassman defends his prediction that the Dow will hit 36,000--someday. Video by The Washington Post

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Yeah, people do say that. There is no doubt that people -- especially people who haven't read the book -- think this is some sort of wild-eyed book that was part of the high-tech boom and so forth. Kevin and I usually joke that we really wish we'd called the book "A Treatise on the Declining Equity Risk Premium." I have to say, I don't really regret it. I think if people read the book, its examination of the nature of investing is right on. I think it's exactly right.

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Just not the number.

I think the fact that the book title is a number -- as things have turned out, maybe a calmer title might have been better.

But you don't feel the need to apologize to someone who read your book, went in and got creamed?

Absolutely not.

At the end of the Bush administration, you served as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, leading U.S. efforts against terrorist ideologies. How do you think you did on that?

I think we did pretty well. The undersecretary for public diplomacy has a broad portfolio, which includes traditional means of engaging the foreign public, such as cultural and educational exchanges. These we do very, very well. But what we haven't really done very much of is what some people call the war of ideas. . . . This is a tremendously important battle, and it's not just a military battle, as [Defense] Secretary [Robert M.] Gates has said. I only had this job for seven months, but I think we got on the right track.

What has the war in Iraq done for the war of ideas?

I think ultimately the war in Iraq will be beneficial to the war of ideas in the sense that a functioning democracy that we hope will be stable and prosperous now exists in the Middle East, and is showing other nations and other people what a democracy looks like. Now, you can argue that was a great cost in American lives and American treasure and it wasn't worth it. I would disagree with that, but I think that's a legitimate argument.

In your Senate confirmation hearing last year you said that "the problem is that the majority of people in the world have never met an American." How much of the problem is that people do know America but don't like it?

The question of why people don't like us is a very complex one. Part of it is they don't like our policies. Part of it is they don't understand our policies but then when they do understand them they don't like them. The third is -- and this is the one I think we can actually work on -- that they feel we don't respect their point of view, that we get out the megaphone and we yell at them: "Here is what we believe; here is how wonderful we are; listen to this, world!" That is the approach that I tried to get away from.

You also said that al-Qaeda is "eating our lunch" in getting its message out on the Internet.


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