Andrew F. Cooper, “The Disintermediation Dilemma and Its Impact on Diplomacy,” German Institute for International and Security Studies, Working Paper, Project “Diplomacy in the 21st Century,” No 04, February 2017, 1-3.
In this short paper, Cooper (University of Waterloo, Canada) asks us to consider that challenges to diplomacy derive increasingly from the ascendant populism of domestic publics averse to insiders, experts, and traditional institutions. Growth in the external relations of “domestic” government departments has long challenged the primacy of diplomats and foreign ministries. Now diplomacy’s “disintermediation dilemma” is driven also by opportunistic leaders and aroused citizens who stigmatize and seek to “go around” diplomacy’s institutions. This is occurring in states at the core of the global system, not just on the periphery. Options for diplomats, Cooper argues, included faster reactions to the surprises of leaders, increased public diplomacy directed domestically, and use of diplomacy’s institutions in the delivery of services to domestic publics.
Geoffrey Cowan, Why the Voice of America Remains a Vital Force in the World, CPD Perspectives, USC Center for Public Diplomacy, March 2017.
Cowan (former dean of USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism and director of the Voice of America) reflects on his family’s association with VOA, its historical and continuing importance, his role in creating USC’s Center for Public Diplomacy and MA degree in public diplomacy, and key questions facing US international broadcasting and public diplomacy in the Trump administration. His paper is adapted from a speech delivered at the World Affairs Council of the Desert in Indian Wells, CA, on December 15, 2016.
Mai’a K. Davis Cross and Teresa La Porte, “The European Union and Image Resilience During Times of Crisis: The Role of Public Diplomacy,” The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, 12 (2016), 1-26.
Davis Cross (Northeastern University) and La Porte (University of Navarra) make two central claims. First, actors who experience setbacks often face consequences beyond those generated by root sources of their problems due to negative media effects, particularly those multiplied by social media. These effects on an actor’s external image, which may be long lasting, require image resilience. Second, “the ability to cultivate image resilience
rests significantly on the power of public diplomacy.” A strong image over time enables greater resilience after initial organizational responses to the shocks and stress of a crisis. The authors examine the meaning of resilience in organization theory and in overcoming objective realities to ensure survival. They contrast and link these ideas with public diplomacy theory and the role of image resilience in “correcting subjective perceptions to restore reputation.” Three “conditions (protective tools)” contribute to an actor’s image resilience: policies, cultures, and identity that are attractive prior to a crisis; adaptive capacity; and “a strong sense of pro-social identity.” Using in-depth interviews, practitioners’ public statements, and scholarly literature, they explore these ideas in a case study of the EU’s public diplomacy in the United States intended to influence American perceptions of Europe’s eurozone crisis.
P. J. Crowley, Red Line: American Foreign Policy in a Time of Fractured Politics and Failing States, (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017)
. Crowley (George Washington University; former assistant secretary for public affairs and spokesman for the US Department of State) achieves two objectives in this informed and well-written book. First, he examines the broad and changing strategic narratives of the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations in the context of important national security issues: responses to the attacks of 9/11, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, US relations with Russia and China, the Iran nuclear negotiations. Woven throughout his analysis is a second objective: an assessment of tensions between these narratives and the accelerating constraints of domestic polities. Looking ahead, he concludes that people will remain “the center of gravity” in foreign policy and “global public opinion will matter more.” America will need to alter its national security narratives to restore its credibility, which is “seriously challenged.” Credibility, transparency, and sustainability “depend on politics” and will be required in greater abundance. Crowley’s insights are those of a scholar-practitioner who has dealt with the hard work of framing credible public argument at the crossroads of politics and policy.
“University Deans Discuss ‘Trends in International Relations Curricula: Implications for Public Diplomacy,’” First Monday Forum, University of Southern California/Public Diplomacy Council, April 3, 2017.
In a panel discussion moderated by Sherry Mueller (American University) Deans James Goldgeier (American University, School of International Service), Joel Hellman (Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service,) Reuben Brigety II (George Washington University, Elliott School of International Affairs), and Adam Clayton Powell III representing Ernest Wilson (USC, Annenberg School of Communication) discuss issues relating to research, curricula, teachers, students practitioner oriented courses, future directions in the study of diplomacy and public diplomacy. The approximately one-hour program, covered by C-SPAN and not yet aired, is scheduled to appear on the website at the link. Chec for updates also on the Public Diplomacy Council’s website.
“EU Strategic Communications With a View to Countering Propaganda,” Directorate General for External Policies, European Parliament, 2016.
In this 33-page report, the EU Parliament’s Policy Division seeks to define “strategic communications” (in the plural form), which in its view, “includes elements of public diplomacy, and ‘spin’, media relations, advertising, recruitment and training and, most notably, high levels of situational awareness (detect and deter).” The report begins by focusing on Russia and the Islamic State: their respective narratives, destabilizing messages, media outlets, tools and methods. It then discusses the EU’s strategic communications efforts (defensive and offensive) and evaluates actions needed to increase their effectiveness.
Alexey Fominykh, “Russia’s Public Diplomacy in Central Asia and the Caucasus: The Role of the Universities,”The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, Vol. 12, No. 1, 2017, 56-85.
Fominykh (Volga State University of Technology) argues that, while Russia’s public diplomacy directed at Ukraine and the Baltic states relies mostly on “manipulative methods,” its public diplomacy in Central Asia and the Caucasus uses a range of “softer” tools: educational exchanges, government scholarships, language instruction, and student recruitment. Fominykh’s research is based on international statistics on student flows collected by the Russian Federation and UNESCO’s country reports. His article includes views on soft power, distinctions between public diplomacy and international education, challenges of defining public diplomacy, and varieties of meaning in interpretations of public diplomacy by Russia’s practitioners and IR scholars.
Richard Haass, A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order, (Penguin Press, 2017).
Haass (Council on Foreign Relations) reflects on implications of a world in which the rules and institutions that worked until the end of the Cold War (World Order 1.0) are increasingly powerless. New forces, challenges, and actors mean something fundamentally different is afoot. The world needs an updated operating system (World Order 2.0). Haass’s analysis contains a number of ideas on diplomacy in a world order in crisis. Diplomats matter, but their impact is diminished when order breaks down. Annual US-China Strategic and Economic dialogues have become increasingly bureaucratic and incremental; more creative and frequent diplomacy is required. Increased commitment to diplomatic process as well as policy is needed to deal with transnational issues, particularly cyber.
Mario Loyola and James K. Glassman, “Promoting American Values and Countering Authoritarianism in Cyberspace,” American Enterprise Institute (AEI), February 2017.
Loyola (New York University School of Law) and Glassman (Visiting Fellow, AEI) follow the well-worn path of linking a case for public diplomacy to perceptions of powerful external threats and weakness at home. Authoritarian regimes have become adept at using the Internet for internal political control, propaganda, and political disruption abroad. The US has failed to respond effectively, they argue, due to the Obama administration’s inability to develop a coherent public diplomacy strategy and effective operational capabilities. They offer a range of debatable and problematic recommendations: abolish the firewall between US international broadcasting and America’s elected political leaders; place broadcasting within the oversight of the Department of State; make US public diplomacy “a more systematic element of the National Security staff system” with specific missions to counter hostile ideologies; adopt new strategies to strengthen freedom and expose disinformation online. Offering few details, they close with the oblique suggestion that “Whether or not the USIA is revived in some form, certainly there should be a USG entity charged with the mission of the old USIA.”
Christopher Paul, Assessing and Evaluating Department of Defense Efforts to Inform, Influence, and Persuade: Worked Example, Rand, 2017.
The Department of Defense spends more than $250 million annually on information operations (IO) and related capabilities. Paul (RAND Senior Social Scientist) builds on earlier research to analyze IO in the context of a fictitious example that uses realistic planning and operational details – a method that avoids distractions and debates that surround actual operations. His conclusions are broadly applicable to military and civilian efforts to inform, influence, and persuade. Effective assessment starts with planning and must support decision-making. Evaluation requires clear, realistic, specific, measurable, achievable, time-bound goals. Assessment requires a theory of change and effective target audience analysis. Use cost/effective metrics and avoid “metric bloat.” Choose logic models that identify possible constraints, flawed assumptions, indicators of failure and success, and unintended consequences of planned behavior. Earlier RAND studies on which this report is based include Assessing and Evaluating Department of Defense Efforts to Inform, Influence, and Persuade: Handbook for Practitioners,
RAND Corporation, RR-809/2-OSD, 2014; and Assessing and Evaluating Department of Defense Efforts to Inform, Influence, and Persuade: Desk Reference,
RAND Corporation, RR-809/1-OSD, 2014;
Paradox of Progress: Global Trends 2030, National Intelligence Council (NIC), January 9, 2017.
The NIC’s latest five-year global trends update continues to provide valuable insights into forces and choices in diplomacy’s changing environment. Both practitioners (thinking beyond the inbox) and teachers (an excellent reading to tee up courses) will find it useful. The 2030 report identifies key trends; discusses how they are changing power, governance, and cooperation; explores how they might play out in near-term rising tensions; and reflects on scenarios for the long-term on three levels: national (islands), regional (orbits), and sub-state and transnational (communities). The NIC’s key trends include: the rich are aging, the poor are not; weak economic growth will persist in the near term; technology is accelerating progress but causing discontinuities; ideas and identities are driving a wave of exclusion; governing and managing global issues (and therefore diplomacy) is getting harder; the nature of conflict is changing due to long-range precision weapons, cyber, and robotic systems; and climate, environmental, and health issues pose imminent threats as the necessary cooperation to address them becomes increasingly difficult.
Efe Sevin, Public Diplomacy and the Implementation of Foreign Policy in the US, Sweden and Turkey, (Palgrave Macmillan Series in Global Public Diplomacy, 2017).
Sevin (University of Fribourg, Switzerland) combines critical insights into public diplomacy scholarship with a systematic comparison of selected projects linking public diplomacy and foreign policy in three countries. His book is a thoughtful inquiry into an ambitious research question: “Public diplomacy works, but how?”
Sevin’s analytical framework, grounded in IR, diplomacy, and communication studies literature, consists of six pathways of connection and explanation: attraction, benefit of the doubt, socialization, direct influence, agenda setting, and framing. Empirical evidence in the cases is drawn from views of public diplomacy practitioners on how their projects helped to achieve foreign policy goals. He uses his theoretical pathways to analyze their views. The case projects are the “Education, Culture, Sports, and Media Working Group” of the US-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission (2009), Sweden’s “Facing the Climate” project, and Turkey’s support for the international organization “Turksoy.Turksoy.” An impressive convergence of study and practice by an informed scholar.
Joel Whitney, Finks: How the C.I.A. Tricked the World’s Best Writers, (OR Books, 2016).
It has been exactly 50 years since Ramparts
magazine launched an open debate on the CIA’s role in funding writers, artists, and groups such as the National Student Association during the Cold War. Access to archives is energizing the debate and adding to an extensive literature. Whitney’s (co-founder of Guernica
) account “of the blurred line between propaganda and literature” focuses on the partnership between the CIA’s Congress for Cultural Freedom and The Paris Review
. His fresh research on the Review
has drawn acclaim. But critics question his speculation about the degree to which the Review
“tricked” or made complicit such prominent authors as Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Boris Pasternak, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. For a critical review, see: Greg Barnhisel (author of Cold War Modernists
), “Finks, Fronts, and Puppets: Revisiting the Cultural Cold War,” Los Angeles Review of Books,
January, 8 2017; Whitney’s reply: “On Finks, Who Paid the Piper, and the CIA’s Literary Legacy,” Guernica,
January 19, 2017; and Barnhisel’s rejoinder: “Outlandish Assertions: Response to Joel Whitney,” Los Angeles Review of Books,
January 19, 2017.
Mathew C. Weed, “U.S. International Broadcasting: Background and Issues for Reform,” Congressional Research Service, CRS Report R43521, December 15, 2016.
CRS foreign policy specialist Weed’s report provides a brief history of US international broadcasting and summarizes current issues facing the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the federal agency responsible for US international broadcasting operations. In December 2016, Congress passed sections in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (S. 2943) that abolished the BBG’s Board of Governors and significantly expanded the authorities of the BBG’s Chief Executive Officer to direct international broadcasting activities and restructure U.S. international broadcasting. Weed’s report was issued after the Act was passed and just before President Obama signed it into law. His analysis takes the Act into account, but its considerable value lies not in the implications of the new law, rather in its assessment of recent approaches to broadcasting reform legislation prior to enactment and issues facing international broadcasting: strategic direction and allocation of resources, changes in communication technologies, desired efficiencies and consolidation of duplicative broadcasting services, disputes over the role of broadcasting in advancing US foreign policy goals and democracy promotion, and evaluation of international broadcasting’s effectiveness. The report updates Weed’s previous CRS report “U.S. International Broadcasting: Background and Issues for Reform,”
published May 2, 2014.
Bruce Wharton, “Remarks at Workshop on ‘Public Diplomacy in a Post Truth Society,’” U.S. Department of State, March 20, 2017.
At a conference co-hosted by Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, Wharton (Acting Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs) contested the view that we live in a “post-truth” society and addressed implications for public diplomacy. His key judgments: Facts exist, and we cannot operate without them. Rebutting every false story is a losing proposition, because there are too many, they spread too quickly, and there are too few to chase them. “The way to counter pseudo-facts and misinformation is to present a compelling narrative of our own, one that is true, defensible and based on the enduring values and goals that people share.” Listening to fears, grievances, and beliefs of others is essential to credibility, and the narrative must be tied to action. Wharton also strongly endorsed Voice of America broadcasts. He voiced a critique of previous State Department approaches to countering extremist ideology, and discussed what he viewed to be strengths of State’s new Global Engagement Center – recently established as the interagency lead “in developing a whole-of-government approach to countering malign actors in the information space.”
Recent Blogs and Other Items of Interest
Michael McFaul, “U.S.-Russia Relations,”
Walter R. Roberts annual lecture, Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication, George Washington University, March 3, 2017, 2-hour C-SPAN, video.
Gem From The Past
Paul Sharp and Geoffrey Wiseman, eds., American Diplomacy, (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2012).
Essays in this volume, compiled by Sharp (University of Minnesota, Duluth) and Wiseman (Australian National University), address “America’s long-running difficult relationship with diplomacy.” As Wiseman summarizes in his lead essay, characteristics of American diplomacy include distrust and negative views of diplomats and diplomacy, an unusually high degree of domestic influence over foreign policy, a tendency to privilege hard power over soft power, a preference for bilateral over multilateral diplomacy, and a strong cultural disposition for a direct, low-context negotiating style. In other essays, David Clinton (Baylor University) discusses a US tendency to conflate diplomacy and foreign policy, Bruce Gregory (George Washington University) explores enduring characteristics and elusive transformation in US public diplomacy, and Paul Sharp asks whether America’s society and politics will permit the diplomacy it needs to cope with an evolving global diffusion of power. As Americans are seized yet again with changes in diplomacy’s direction, priorities, and resources relative to hard power instruments, this collection warrants a second look. American Diplomacy
first appeared as a special issue of The Hague Journal of Diplomacy