“Adversarial States,” Public Diplomacy Magazine, Issue 17, Winter/Spring 2017, Association of Public Diplomacy Scholars (APDS), University of Southern California.
Articles by scholars and practitioners in PD Magazine’s
latest issue examine public diplomacy practices between traditional adversaries – understood as “long-standing mutual tensions created by historical, ideological, or territorial grievances.” Chapters focus on US relations with China, Cuba, Iran, and Russia. Other chapters explore relations between other rival states: Armenia/Turkey, Ireland/Northern Ireland, and Israel/Palestine.
Corneliu Bjola, “Adapting Diplomacy to the Digital Age: Managing the Organizational Culture of Ministries of Foreign Affairs,” SWP Berlin, German Institute for International and Security Affairs, Working Paper, No. 9, March 2017.
Bjola (University of Oxford) examines how foreign ministries – facing internal conflicts born of their use of indispensable social media tools – should “reconcile entrenched organizational cultures with the platforms, values and assumptions of digital diplomacy.” Drawing from Edgar Shein’s model of organizational cultures, he develops a three-dimensional evaluation matrix of digital adaptation: (1) artifacts, meaning visible digital organizational structures, brands, leaders, and networks; (2) a foreign ministry’s espoused values based on reigning cultural beliefs and their congruence with digital norms of communication, engagement, and adaptation; and (3) “taken for granted, non-debatable” assumptions about how members of organizations “perceive, think about, and feel about things.” Bjola uses this framework to map and assess potential sources of digital clashes within ministries.
“Can Public Diplomacy Survive the Internet? Bots, Echo Chambers, and Disinformation,” Report of the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, May 2017.
In recent years this venerable bipartisan Commission (est. 1948) has been in the vanguard of productive efforts to link diplomacy studies and practice. Its latest report, managed by the Commission’s executive director Shawn Powers, sets a new high bar. The report compiles 14 essays written by academic, private sector, and government participants in a workshop convened by the Commission at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution to look at “the emergence of social bots, artificial intelligence, and computational propaganda.” Their goal: to “raise awareness regarding how technology is transforming the nature of digital communication, offer ideas for competing in this space, and raise a number of important policy and research questions needing immediate attention.” For practitioners, the report provides insights and cutting edge knowledge with operational relevance. Teachers will find brief, timely, and accessible readings for students. Includes:
Francis Fukuyama (Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies), “Foreword: Public Diplomacy in a Post-truth Society.”
Shawn Powers, “Executive Summary.”
Bruce Wharton (Acting Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs), “Remarks on ‘Public Diplomacy in a Post-truth Society.’”
Samuel C. Woolley (Oxford Internet Institute’s European Research Council), “Computational Propaganda and Political Bots: An Overview.”
Matt Chessen (Foreign Service Science, Technology, and Foreign Policy Fellow, George Washington University), “Understanding the Psychology Behind Computational Propaganda.”
Tim Hwang (Pacific Social), “Rethinking Countermeasures in the Age of Computational Propaganda.”
Sam Ford (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), “Public Diplomacy’s (Mis)understood Digital Platform Problem.”
Matt Chessen, “Understanding the Challenges of Artificial Intelligence and Computational Propaganda to Diplomacy.”
Jeffrey T. Hancock (Stanford University), “Psychological Principles for Public Diplomacy in an Evolving Information Ecosystem.”
Ethan Porter (George Washington University), “Facts Matter and People Care: An Empirical Perspective.”
Amanda Bennett (Director, Voice of America), “VOA: A Weapon of Truth in a War of Words.”
Jonathan Henick (Principal Deputy Coordinator, Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP), US Department of State) and Ryan Walsh (Senior Advisor for Digital Product, IIP), “U.S. 2016 Elections: A Case Study in ‘Inocculating’ Public Opinion Against Disinformation.”
Jason Stanley (Yale University), “In Defense of Truth, and the Threat of Disinformation.”
Laura J. Roselle (Elon University), “Public Diplomacy and Strategic Narratives.”
Vivian S. Walker (National War College), “Crafting Resilient State Narratives in Post Truth Environments: Ukraine and Georgia.”
Markus Kounalakis (Stanford University), “America’s Strategic Narrative and a Path for Public Diplomacy.”
“Digital Diplomacy Conference” State of Israel, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Ministry, March 30-31, 2016.
In this recently released 49-page report, the conveners of this conference, Corneliu Bjola (University of Oxford), Jan Melissen (Clingendael Institute), and Ilan Manor (University of Oxford), summarize issues raised by the impact of digitalization on diplomacy and insights of diplomats and scholars from more than 30 countries. Key questions and ideas include: (1) the emerging role of foreign affairs ministries as digital service providers, particularly in providing consular services in crises; (2) the value of such services in building domestic constituencies; (3) lessons learned from the Nepal earthquake and Paris terrorist attack case studies; (4) how best to measure effectiveness, (5) whether it is time to abandon influence as a goal in digital diplomacy activities; (6) re-conceptualizing listening and engaging through social media; (7) whether diplomats should relinquish social media accounts when leaving a post; and (8) new models for analyzing digital strengths and limitations of embassy staffs, depicting hierarchies of digital skills in diplomacy, and understanding online foreign policy narration. Their report contains instructive images and references to practitioner-oriented scholarly literature.
Rudine Emrich, “Report of the Workshop on ‘Diplomacy in the 21st Century,’” SWP Berlin, German Institute for International and Security Affairs, March 27, 2017.
SWP’s Emrich summarizes workshop papers and participant discussions in four categories: digitization, emotion, governance, and exploring the way forward in 21st century diplomacy. Her overview profiles key themes in the papers (some annotated elsewhere in this list) by leading diplomacy scholars and analysis of their implications in workshop sessions. Among the advantages of her overview and the papers are their brevity, online accessibility, efforts by participants to skim the conceptual cream, attention to salient issues in research, and their value for reform minded diplomats and change agents in foreign ministries.
Christer Jonsson, “Diplomatic Actors Beyond Foreign Ministries,” SWP Berlin, German Institute for International and Security Affairs, Working Paper, No. 10, March 2017.
Jonsson (Lund University) examines the acceleration of what he calls a “hybrid diplomatic arena” in which supranational, subnational, transgovernmental, and transnational actors are challenging the traditional primacy of foreign ministries and the diplomatic corps. He anticipates the range of diplomacy actors will broaden and diversify. In this milieu, the diplomat must be an “orchestrator” of multiple voices and interests. Diplomats must also be comfortable with “complexity management” and interacting with a vastly larger number of actors.
Jimmy Kolker, “HHS and Health Diplomacy,” The Foreign Service Journal, May 2017, 29-30.
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has become a leading example of whole of government diplomacy, vanishing boundaries between foreign and domestic, and how complex transnational problems are changing diplomatic practice. Ambassador (ret.) Jimmy Kolker (HHS assistant secretary for global affairs until January 2017 and a 30 year career diplomat in the US Foreign Service) provides lots of evidence. HHS, “intensely domestic in its culture, systems, and thinking” is now a major global actor – with nearly 2,000 HHS staff under chief-of-mission authority overseas, supported by 1,500 locally employed staff and 500 Americans. Kolker demonstrates how HHS’s role has changed, citing such activities as PEPFAR, the Global Health Security Agenda, responses to the Ebola crisis in West Africa and Zika outbreak in Brazil, and partnerships with government and non-government health organizations. Looking ahead, he questions calls for an “HHS Foreign Service,” preferring strong ties between HHS’s subject-matter experts and the State Department’s Office of International Health and Biosecurity and Global Health Diplomacy. See also Nancy J. Powell and Gwen Tobert, “Fighting Pandemics: Lessons Learned,”
The Foreign Service Journal,
May 2017, 37-40.
Ilan Manor, “America’s Selfie – Three Years Later,” Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, Published online, May 23, 2017, 1-17.
Manor (University of Oxford) explores the way relational approaches that emphasize engagement between organizations and stakeholders link the fields of public diplomacy, place branding, and public relations. His carefully researched article is based on a case study of US State Department Facebook profiles in 2013 and 2016. Manor investigates (1) State’s projected image of America as “an economically responsible superpower, guided by moral values and committed to diplomacy and building meaningful relations with the Muslim world,” and (2) the extent to which State offered opportunities for “dialogic engagement.” He concludes that State maintained a consistent and coherent national image of America. At the same time, State failed to provide opportunities for two way interactions – “a lack
of dialogic engagement that links the fields of public diplomacy, nation branding and public relations.” His paper includes a thoughtful review of relevant literature. He is mindful of his study’s methodological limitations. And he concludes with a variety of questions for further research, including whether a Trump administration will lead to changes in the management of the US national image. Indeed.
Jan Melissen and Matthew Cesar-Gordon, “The Impact of the Digital Revolution on Foreign Ministries’ Duty of Care,” SWP Berlin, German Institute for International and Security Affairs, Working Paper, No. 8, February 2017.
Melisssen and Cesar-Gordon (Netherlands Institute of International Relations, ‘Clingendael’) examine how the “digital shift” in the ways foreign ministries help people abroad is making them more dependent on citizen participation. Foreign ministries are learning that digitally proficient citizens will support “government assistance to nationals abroad, and that nationals abroad should assume more responsibility for their own security.”
Jan Melissen and Emillie V. de Keulenaar, “The Case for Critical Digital Diplomacy,” SWP Berlin, German Institute for International and Security Affairs, Working Paper, No. 7, February 2017.
In addition to applying digital tools to existing practices, Melisssen (Netherlands Institute of International Relations, ‘Clingendael’) and de Keulenaar (University of Amsterdam) argue that diplomacy practitioners must also understand the politics and intentions of real life actors behind software, as well as the infrastructures underlying digital diplomacy – i.e., the platforms that mediate capacity in culture, political dialogue, and international relations. Diplomats and foreign ministries “should embrace conceptions of technology that no longer separate substance from technique, and instruments from language.” They should understand how “culture, information, and relations are systematized in software, such as with the counteracting of algorithms that do not work in one’s favor.” They should critically assess real life actors behind software and understand that failure to create software for diplomatic purposes puts them at a disadvantage.
“Now Online: 99 Years of Diplomatic History,” American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), The Foreign Service Journal Archive, May 2017.
A complete archive of The Foreign Service Journal
(FSJ), AFSA’s flagship publication, is now available online. The FSJ is also creating a Special Collections page
to highlight articles on particular themes. Published bimonthly, FSJ covers international issues, diplomatic practice, and the US Foreign Service. As the voice of AFSA, “a labor union and professional association for US diplomats,” the FSJ also contains news relating to AFSA’s activities and positions, together with the often spirited and contrasting views of its members. This high quality insider’s journal, now easily accessible, is an outstanding resource on a century of US diplomacy for scholars, policy analysts, and practitioners. It is particularly useful for scholars using practice theory in the study of diplomacy and its public dimension.
James Pamment, rapporteur, New Diplomacy, Wilton Park, WP1531, March 15-17, 2017.
In this brief report, Pamment (University of Lund) summarizes key judgments of 50 practitioners gathered at Wilton Park to examine new approaches to decentralized diplomacy in a networked world. Key judgments include: Diplomats cannot do everything alone. They must balance traditional roles with new skills such as leadership, boldness, innovation, and disruption. Diplomats will need more education and training, and a greater willingness to listen and learn. Digital technologies are no longer new in diplomacy; algorithms, bots, and hackers are poorly understood. “Unusual suspects” are needed in a rethink of approaches to influencers in diplomacy – including “diplomats for hire” at the periphery of diplomatic networks. Diplomats must be more open to dissent, a plurality of perspectives, and a norm of “optimal distance” while collaborating with a wide variety of diplomatic and non-diplomatic actors to achieve shared outcomes. Not everything will be new in the “new” diplomacy, but there is an “evolving ‘normal.’” A useful read for practitioners and students.
Condoleezza Rice, Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom, (Twelve, 2017).
The former US Secretary of State meditates on the meaning of democracy and lessons from struggles to establish and sustain democratic institutions. Her stories about the United States, Russia, Poland, Kenya, Ukraine, Colombia, and the Middle East draw heavily on her experiences in government and knowledge of democratization discourse. She makes a continuing case for the National Endowment for Democracy and other US democracy promotion activities. Her anecdotes and descriptions of conversations with foreign leaders will inform historians and democracy builders. Rice blends idealism and realism, optimism and pessimism. In places, she is candid about mistakes. Her epilogue makes glancing references to “a new president . . . elected with absolutely no experience in government of any kind” and a troubling possibility that a turn to “nationalism and nativism will threaten the global order.” But here and throughout the book, she is measured and decorous – a voice suited for an excellent seminar but distant from the emotions and raw politics of high stakes democratic struggles.
Amelia Shaw, “Speaking Out – Digital Diplomacy: Will State Ever Take the Plunge,” The Foreign Service Journal,May 2017, 19-22.
In her hard-hitting critique of the State Department’s “public diplomacy efforts in the digital arena,” Foreign Service Officer Shaw (2015 winner of the American Foreign Service Association’s W. Averell Harriman Award for Constructive Dissent) argues the Department is constrained by (1) lack of time, skills, tools and knowledge required to use social media effectively; (2) a concentration of cutting edge tools and expertise in Washington rather than in the field; and (3) an organizational hierarchy that is power-centric, risk averse, and lacks a “train and trust” model for online engagement. Her recipe for change: compulsory training that leverages private sector expertise, a menu of globally available best practices, restructured PD shops at field posts, and transformed PD hiring practices. Before joining the Foreign Service in 2014, Shaw was a foreign correspondent for National Public Radio, a digital media advisor for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and a Fulbright Scholar in Haiti.
Tamsin Shaw, “Invisible Manipulators of Your Mind,” The New York Review, April 20, 2017, 62-65.
This is an essay length review of The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed our Mind,
a book by Michael Lewis on the work of psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. Shaw (New York University) explores how governments and corporations are using behavioral techniques to change behavior by appealing to non-rational motivations, emotional triggers, and unconscious biases. Her examples include Amazon’s automated “nudges,” sentiment manipulation in the 2016 US presidential election, SCL CEO Nigel Oakes’ presentation to the US Department of State, and former British Navy commander Steve Tatham’s and Andrew Mackay’s insights on the relevance of prospect theories of human motivations and the “wisdom of crowds” in strategic communication – ideas explored in their Behavior Conflict: Why Understanding People and Their Motivations Will Prove Decisive in Future Conflict.
Anne-Marie Slaughter, The Chessboard & the Web: Strategies of Connection in a Networked World, (Yale University Press, 2017).
Practical guides to the complex problems and drivers of change reshaping diplomacy’s tools and methods are rare. Using the metaphors of chess (games of sovereign state actors seeking to preserve separation and gain strategic advantage) and the web (networks of connection between governance, corporate, civic, and criminal actors), Slaughter (President and CEO, New America) maps a “both/and” way of seeing the world to create a playbook for strategies of connection. Her book rewards in many ways. It’s a primer on applied network theory, not too casual, not too abstract. It provides a rich survey of recent scholarship and practitioner literature. Her experiences as New America’s CEO and former director of policy planning at the State Department inform her conceptual reasoning. She combines strategies of connection with useful chapters on leadership and network power. And her insights into how practitioners are learning to “convene and connect” in multi-issue, multi-actor diplomacy inform both theory and practice. Recognized as a formidable public intellectual, Slaughter reminds, as she did in A New World Order
(2005), that she is also an accomplished scholar. Her book has one significant limitation. It is based on her 2015 Stimson Lectures at Yale and was completed before the 2016 US presidential election. She offers no thoughts on what her web strategies might mean for a Trump presidency enthralled by a chessboard view of the world.
Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach, The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone, (Riverhead Books, 2017).
Cognitive scientists Sloman (Brown University) and Fernbach (University of Colorado) use clear prose, humor, and many telling examples to make three central arguments. (1) Most of us are largely unaware of how little we know. (How does glue hold paper together?) (2) Our knowledge illusion occurs because we confuse finite knowledge in our heads with knowledge we have access to outside the mind. (3) Understanding the communal nature of knowledge helps explain why we think in groups and why collaboration is more productive in human achievement than individual rationality. Sloman and Fernbach apply their ideas to a variety of concerns relevant to diplomatic practice: why political opinions and false beliefs are hard to change, why groups use stories to organize collective memory and convey attitudes, echo chambers and self-confirming news streams, “fake news,” the Internet as an extension of thought, problems of intentionality and artificial intelligence, differences in political persuasion between disputes over fundamental values and consequence-based outcomes, and the importance of both expertise and collective intelligence. Walter Lippmann (Public Opinion
) and John Dewey developed ideas about cognition, communication, and complexity nearly a century ago with insights often used to introduce public diplomacy courses. Sloman and Fernbach in part build on their pioneering work in this 21st
Dina Smeltz, Karl Friedhoff, Craig Kafura, Johua W. Busby, Jonathan Monten, and Jordan Tama, The Foreign Policy Establishment or Donald Trump: Which Better Reflects American Opinion? The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, April 20, 2017.
In this report, based on the Council’s surveys conducted in 2016 before the US election, Dina Smeltz and her colleagues find “the general public was more attuned to the broad outlines of foreign policy positions promoted by the foreign policy opinion leaders, or ‘the Foreign Policy Establishment.’” Among the findings: (1) bipartisan consensus among US foreign policy opinion leaders in both parties on active global engagement, maintaining alliances, and international trade; (2) foreign policy views of the general public aligned more with those of foreign policy opinion leaders than the stated views of candidate Donald Trump; (3) views of experts in Republican and Democratic parties more often aligned with each other than with publics affiliated with their parties; (4) majorities in both parties supported globalization and trade; and (5) among Republicans a historic high of 67% viewed immigrants and refugees as a critical threat compared with 19% of Republican opinion leaders.
Recent Blogs and Other Items of Interest
Gem From The Past
Manuel Castells, Communication Power, (Oxford University Press, 2009).
“Where does power lie in the global network society?” Manuel Castells (University of Southern California) sought answers to this question nearly a decade ago, in this masterful update to his pioneering Information Age trilogy
on the network society. Communication Power
is an inquiry into “the connection between communication and political power at the frontier between cognitive science, communication research, political psychology, and political communication.” Castells’ analysis has enormous continuing value as scholars and diplomats struggle with real world implications of networks and digital technologies. A short list of its relevant ideas for diplomacy includes: varieties of power in networks, mass self-communication, the politics of beliefs, the importance of biology and emotions, media framing, networked global actors, and the construction and roles of narratives. The full text of this important book is available online.