Issue #44

Bruce Gregory's Resources on Diplomacy's Public Dimension
March 19, 2009

Tom Boellstorff, Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human, (Princeton University Press, 2008). In this academic inquiry into online virtual worlds, Boellstorff (Princeton University) uses anthropological methods and extensive fieldwork as the avatar "Tom Bukowski" in Linden Labs' Second Life to study ideas about identity, society, culture, and the meaning of "virtual." His study looks at such issues as gender, race, sex, conflict, collaboration, political economy, governance, the construction of place and time, relationships between individuals and groups, and fundamental questions about connections between actual and virtual. Boellstorff writes clearly for scholars and students, for those with extensive experience in online worlds, and for those who are curious.

Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA), The Role of Cell Phones in Carrying News and Information, National Endowment for Democracy, November 12, 2008. CIMA's report summarizes findings of a conference of 75 representatives of international organizations, media development implementers, journalists and telecommunications companies hosted by the National Endowment for Democracy. Presenting organizations included MobileActive.org, InterMedia, Webbmedia Group LLC, Kiwanja.net, Appropriate IT, J-Lab, the Institute for Interactive Journalism, and Global Voices. Participants reached broad agreement on the following: cell phones have revolutionized global communication systems; rapid penetration makes good statistical evidence of impact difficult to achieve; new cell phone technologies are demand driven and the best ideas come from the bottom up; cell phone technology is two-way; cell phones highlight immediacy, but content still matters.

Johan Erikksson and Giampiero Giacomello, eds., "The Forum: Who Controls the Internet: Beyond the Obstinacy or Obsolescence of the State," International Studies Review, Vol. 2, Issue 1, March 2009, 205-230. Erikksson (Sodertorn University College) and Giacomello (University of Bologna) reexamine and seek to move beyond both U.S. centered perspectives and a problematic debate on whether the global diffusion of the Internet signifies the demise of the state's control of society or strengthens the state's hold on society. The Forum discusses "what actors are controlling what aspects of Internet usage, and under what conditions. Includes contributions from Hamoud Salhi (California State University, Dominguez Hills) Myriam Dunn Cavelty (Center for Security Studies, ETH Zurich), J. P. Singh (Georgetown University), and M. I. Franklin (Goldsmiths, University of London).

Nathaniel C. Flick and John A Nagl, "Counterinsurgency Field Manual: Afghanistan Edition," and "The FP Interview with Gen. David H. Petraeus," Foreign Policy, January/February, 2009, 42-50. Flick and Nagle (retired military officers and fellows at the Center for a New American Security) summarize the central elements of the U.S. military's counterinsurgency doctrine in the context of Afghanistan: "Focus on protecting civilians over killing the enemy. Assume greater risk. Use minimum, not maximum force." In this doctrine, "some of the best weapons do not shoot," and actions are the best messages.

Craig Hayden and Shawn Powers, Intermap, Blog on International Media Argument Project: Political Communication, Rhetoric and Public Diplomacy. Hayden (American University, School of International Service) and Powers (University of Southern California, Annenberg School of Communication and Center on Public Diplomacy) describe Intermap as a website and blog that "presents news, opinions, and research on issues related to communication-centric foreign policy, public diplomacy, global media and news flows. More broadly, this site aims to investigate the intersections between communication, media studies and international relations scholarship that deal directly with how global controversies and politics are carried and sustained through media. We call this media argument: where media outlets, technologies, and tactics represent the symbolic and visual space for the contest of ideas between nations, citizens, non-state actors."

H.R. 363, A Bill to Amend the United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994 to Reorganize United States International Broadcasting, and For Other Purposes, U.S. House of Representatives, January 9, 2009. Introduced by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and co-sponsored by Reps. Dan Burton (R-IN), Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), and Edward Royce (R-CA). H.R. 363 would abolish the existing Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and establish an independent United States International Broadcasting Agency. The new agency would be headed by a Presidentially appointed Board of Governors (structured in the same manner as the BBG). Broadcasting activities would be carried out by a Director appointed by majority vote of the Board under authorities delegated by the Board.

Roger L. Janelli and Dawnhee Yim, "Soft Power, Korea, and the Politics of Culture," In Catching the Wave: Connecting East Asia Through Soft Power, Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley, October 5-6, 2007. Janelli (Indiana University) and Yim (Dongkuk University) briefly describe conceptual elements of soft power and assess China's projection of soft power in South Korea before discussing South Korea's pursuit of soft power through government and non-government organizations. They find a mixed record and argue that the greatest success in South Korea's use of soft power is in its relations with North Korea. They conclude that nations can increase their influence by exporting culture primarily in cases where there is also mutual agreement and dependence on the benefits of political, economic, and military relationships.

Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation on Digital Media and Learning, November 2008. This white paper (by researchers associated with the Institute for Multimedia Literacy and the Annenberg Center for Communication at the University of Southern California and The Institute for the Study of Social Change and the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley) summarizes findings of a three-year study of new media ecology. The study was motivated by two questions: "How are new media being integrated into youth practices and agendas? How do these practices change the dynamics of youth-adult negotiations over literacy, learning, and authoritative knowledge?"

The study examines the use of new media in extending friendships and interests, self-directed, peer-based learning, genres of participation (hanging out, messing around, geeking out), and implications for educators, parents, and policymakers. The authors are skeptical of claims that "a digital generation is overthrowing culture and knowledge as we know it." But they also believe "this generation is at a unique historical moment tied to longer-term and systemic changes in sociability and culture." Public diplomacy scholars and practitioners will find this study useful in considering the implications of new media for understanding communication, identity, and new forms of civic engagement among youth cultures and networked publics. (Courtesy of Donna Oglesby)

Marc Lynch, "Abu Aardvark's Middle East Blog," The New ForeignPolicy.com. In January 2009, Lynch (George Washington University, co-director Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communications) moved his Abu Aardvark blog to Foreign Policy's new blog team. Lynch's blogging topics include Arab media and public opinion, Islamist movements, public diplomacy, Iraq, and Arab democratization. Other new bloggers on FP's Passport website include Daniel Drezner (Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy), Stephen Walt (Harvard University), Tom Ricks (former military correspondent, The Washington Post ), and David Rothkopf (Carnegie Endowment). FP Passport blog will also partner with Small Wars Journal and the Eurasia Group.

Bree Nordenson, "Overload! Journalism's Battle for Relevance in an Age of Too Much Information,"Columbia Journalism Review, November/December 2008, 30-32, 35-37, 40. Freelance writer Nordenson examines recent literature on information overload and the short supply of "our most precious resource" -- attention. Excessive multi-tasking, relentless bits of stimulation that overload "brain labor," and the negligible costs of distributing and storing information cause it to lose value. The solution, Nordenson argues, is not "more, faster, better," but "depth, context, and coherence." Journalists, scholars, and other analysts in the new information environment are needed, not as gatekeepers who control information, but as guides who assimilate useful knowledge and provide credible frameworks for understanding.

Kazuo Ogoura, "The Limits of Soft Power," Japan Echo, Vol. 33, No. 5 (October, 2006), translated from "Sofuto pawa ron no shikaku," Wochi Kochi (a quarterly journal of the Japan Foundation), June/July 2006, 60-65. Ogoura (President, Japan Foundation) finds fundamental problems in Joseph Nye's views on soft power and "conceptual confusion" in its application to the power of Japanese culture overseas ("Japanese cool") and to public diplomacy more broadly. Ogoura examines sources of soft power, indices for measuring it, and contrasting perspectives of those wielding soft power and those who are its "targets." He concludes that "soft power as an actual political theory is loaded with ideology and riddled with contradictions and hypocrisy." In Ogoura's view, a self-evident link between culture and the state is "fatally flawed." Accordingly, the term soft power should not be used as an element of state-based power, which "is gradually losing its meaning," but as "the power of people engaged in cultural, religious, or educational activities to cultivate a common global awareness." (Courtesy of Craig Hayden)

Mariya Y. Omelicheva, "Global Civil Society and Democratization of World Politics: A Bona Fide Relationship or Illusory Liaison?" International Studies Review, Vol. 2, Issue 1, March 2009 109-132. Omelicheva (University of Kansas) provides a literature review of studies on the role and influence of non-state actors in democratizing global politics. Her article looks at definitional dilemmas, proposes a new analytical framework, and makes recommendations for further research and development of empirical theory, methodologies, and conceptual elaboration.

Christopher Paul, Whither Strategic Communication: A Survey of Current Proposals and Recommendations, Occasional Paper, RAND Corporation, 2009. Paul (RAND's International Security and Defense Policy Center) provides a useful and brief (19 pages) summary of key recommendations in the large collection of studies and opinion pieces on strategic communication and public diplomacy. Based on a review of 36 documents and more than a dozen structured interviews, Paul's survey groups core themes and presents the frequency of key recommendations in 22 categories. He discusses consensus recommendations and others that made frequent appearances in the literature. Paul favors the term strategic communication, defined "broadly and inclusively." He discusses alternative definitions and contrasting perspectives on strategic communication and public diplomacy.

Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ), "The New Washington Press Corps: As Mainstream Media Decline, Niche and Foreign Outlets Grow," Special Report, Pew Research Center, February 11, 2009. The Pew Center's PEJ concludes that a significant decline in the reporting power of mainstream media has been nearly matched by a sharp growth in special interest media and a marked jump in foreign media represented in Washington. The report's section on foreign media discusses the role of the State Department's Foreign Press Center. The PEJ finds a large increase in foreign journalists has broadened rather than deepened coverage, because they "tend to fare poorly in the fight for access to key federal government decision-makers." However, their numbers have "changed the way the world gets its news from Washington, and the implications of their presence for America's image in the world are considerable." (Courtesy of Belinda Yong)

William A. Rugh, "Repairing American Public Diplomacy," Arab Media & Society, Issue 7, Winter 2009. Ambassador Rugh (The Fletcher School, Middle East Institute) looks at challenges facing U.S. public diplomacy with an emphasis on broadcasting to the Arab world. He calls for basic reforms in Radio Sawa, the al-Hurra television network, and the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Other recommendations include adjusting the "military-civilian imbalance" in public diplomacy media programs (giving primary responsibility to the Department of State); strengthening public diplomacy's leadership and policy advisory role; and State Department reforms to include concentrated assignment of public diplomacy career track officers rather than distributing them throughout the organization.

Thomas Sanderson, David Gordon, and Guy Ben-Ari, International Collaborative Online Networks: Lessons Identified from the Public, Private, and Nonprofit Sectors, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), December 2008. This report summarizes findings of a workshop on international collaborative online networks (ICONs) led by CSIS and the CIA's Global Futures Partnership in March 2008. Participants concluded that more ICONs fail due to an inability to engage people rather than inferior technology or lack of funds. Key challenges to ICONs include: building and maintaining trust, crafting incentives to attract and sustain members, effectively moderating networks to achieve intended goals, finding "the right partner(s)," and measuring network utility.

David Sanger, The Inheritance: The World Obama Confronts and the Challenges to American Power, (Harmony Books, 2009). The New York Times' chief Washington correspondent surveys the range of foreign policy legacies other than Iraq that face the Obama administration. Sanger's informed and exceedingly well written insider narrative looks at a broad range of missed opportunities, unresolved problems, and future possibilities: Iran, Israel, Afghanistan, Pakistan, North Korea, China, homeland security, cyber attack, and an opportunity to creatively address the rules and institutions of global finance.

Michael Schudson, Why Democracies Need an Unlovable Press, (Polity Press, 2008). In this collection of his recent essays, Schudson (University of California, San Diego and Columbia University) assesses "journalism's special place in democracy," the requirements of specialized knowledge (expertise), and the necessity of concentrated power (politicians and judges). His essays cover such issues as the functions of journalism, whether elements of American journalism are "detachable for export," the "anarchy of events and the anxiety of story telling," the meaning of conversation in the public sphere, and a fresh look at the always rewarding exchange between Walter Lippmann and John Dewey. (Courtesy of Donna Oglesby)

Micah L. Sifry, "A See-Through Society," Columbia Journalism Review, January/February 2009, 43-47. Sifry (Sunlight Foundation and co-founder of the Personal Democracy Forum) looks at how new media are creating greater political transparency and "changing the ecology of how people consume and create political information."

Roger Silverstone, Media and Morality: On the Rise of the Mediapolis, (Polity Press, 2007). The late Roger Silverstone (London School of Economics) in his last book examines the "role of the media in the formation of social, civic, and moral space." For Silverstone, global, regional, and local media in all their forms have become environmental, not as a separate sphere, but "as tightly and dialectically intertwined with the everyday" -- as a "mediapolis" or space for social and political communication in which relations between neighbors and strangers are constructed or destroyed. This "mediapolis" is also a moral space in which questions of media justice, obligation, and responsibility can be examined. Silverstone's inquiry looks at moral issues in a broad range of areas in mediated life: war, order, empire, minorities, terrorism, celebrity, and the natural environment.

P. W. Singer, "Robots at War: The New Battlefield," Wilson Quarterly, Autumn 2008, 30-48. Singer (Brookings Institution and author of Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century, 2009) discusses how a coming generation of sophisticated "war bots" will change the nature of armed conflict and create new questions. Can they reliably separate friend from foe? What laws and ethical codes apply? What do others perceive when "we send out unmanned machines to fight for us?" Will tomorrow's weapons with adjustable levels of autonomy be "too fast, too small, too numerous" for humans to direct? Will robot technologies diminish the connection between publics and war? Also available at this LINK.

Anne-Marie Slaughter, "America's Edge: Power in the Networked Century," Foreign Affairs, January/February 2009, 94-113. The Dean of Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and newly appointed director of the State Department's Office of Policy Planning asserts that we live in a networked world in which "the measure of power is connectedness." The U.S. "has a clear and sustainable edge," she contends, in a world where states with the most connections will be central players through their ability to set the global agenda, drive innovation, and leverage sustainable growth. Networked power is based on "the ability to make the maximum number of valuable connections" and on the knowledge and skills needed "to harness that power to achieve a common purpose." America's comparative advantage rests on its relatively small population, a multi-cultural mosaic that has replaced the melting pot, insulation from massive migration flows, and a "culture of creation" that is open to global networks that can produce collaborative innovations. Slaughter states that America's "edge is more potential than actual." To actualize this potential, she calls for comprehensive immigration reform, increased overseas study, greater economic and social equality, more effort in engaging Latin America, and recognition of the need to orchestrate networks of public, private, and civic actors to address global problems.

Don Tapscott, Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World, (McGraw Hill, 2009). Tapscott (Chairman, nGenera Innovation Network; University of Toronto; and author of Growing Up Digital, 1998) looks at a generation of young people (ages 11-31) that has come of age surrounded by digital media. With $4 million in research funds provided by large corporations, Tapscott's investigators surveyed thousands of "Net Geners." They conclude that this generation is engaging politically and "beginning to transform every institution of modern life" with a culture that values freedom of choice, customized things, collaboration, conversation, speed, innovation, and interactive learning. Tapscott also raises concerns: the "grown up digital" generation is giving away personal information that will undermine future privacy, and many hierarchical institutions are facing a generational clash if they refuse to adapt to changes that can topple established orders.

U.S. Government Accountability Office, Broadcasting to Cuba: Actions are Needed to Improve Strategy and Operations, GAO-09-127, January 22, 2009. GAO's latest report on U.S. government international broadcasting finds the best available research shows Radio and TV Marti's audience is small with less than 2 percent of respondents to telephone surveys since 2003 reporting tuning in to the stations during the week surveyed. GAO recommends the Broadcasting Board of Governors "conduct an analysis of the relative success and return on investment of broadcasting to Cuba," promote greater sharing of audience research information among U.S. agencies, additional training for program reviews and journalistic standards, and steps to ensure that "political and other inappropriate advertisements are not shown" during broadcasts.

U.S. Public DIplomacy -- Time to Get Back in the Game, Report from Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), Ranking Member, to Members of the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, February 13, 2009. This report urges greater direct U.S. engagement with "average citizens overseas who have virtually no contact with Americans" through a program to re-establish "stand-alone" American Centers in secure facilities outside U.S. embassy compounds that would use English teaching to offset operating costs. The report argues that Information Resource Centers within embassies are "ill suited to encouraging the casual visitor;" that re-creation of USIA "is not realistic;" that the U.S. commitment to cultural centers should be comparable to that of Britain, France, Germany, and Iran; and that "increased accessibility need not come at the cost of security." The report was written by Paul Foldi, a member of the Committee's minority staff, and is based on his travel to Egypt, Jordan, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic in December 2008.

Gem From the Past

Glen H. Fisher, Public Diplomacy and the Behavioral Sciences, (Indiana University Press, 1972). Glen Fisher was a career foreign service officer, a sociologist, and a cultural anthropologist. He served also as Dean of the Center for Area and Country Studies at the Department of State's Foreign Service Institute. In this book, published nearly four decades ago, Fisher used insights from psychology, sociology, and anthropology to shed light on why people in social groups think and act differently. In this pioneering book, Fisher draws on his work as a diplomat and as an academic to discuss the relevance of scholarship to public diplomacy and the importance comprehending publics to effective diplomacy.