Kadir Jun Ayhan, “Branding Korea as ‘My Friend’s Country’ The Case of VANK’s Cyber Public Diplomats,” Korea Observer, Vol. 49, No. 1, Spring 2018, 51-89.
In this article, Ayhan (Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Seoul) make several valuable contributions to diplomacy studies. He explores the under-studied conceptual terrain of whether and in what circumstances non-state actors can be treated as diplomacy actors independent of relationships with government actors. He offers useful insights into diplomacy’s connections with nation branding, digital technologies, and relationship building. He develops his theoretical claims in an interesting case study of a Korean NGO, the Voluntary Agency Network of Korea (VANK), through which young Koreans seek to promote Korea to foreigners using social networking sites, branding strategies, and managed relationships. Ayhan’s article contains an informed review of current literature and useful suggestions for further research. Scholars will find provocative ideas that illuminate conceptual discourse. Practitioners will benefit from an understanding of VANK’s methods and activities.
“Border Diplomacy,” Public Diplomacy Magazine, Issue 19, Summer/Fall 2018, Association of Public Diplomacy Scholars, University of Southern California.
In this timely edition, Public Diplomacy Magazine
compiles articles and interviews on varieties of ways borders divide and connect in diplomacy. Topics include a critique of the Trump administration’s immigration policies, a program created to help refugees and immigration families, German exchanges with US cities, migration stories in America and Europe, issues in trade and diplomacy, the Iraqi Kurdish independence referendum and possibilities for a virtual state, and Iceland’s place branding initiatives. The Magazine
is a student-run publication, which has published articles by students, faculty, and practitioners with support from USC faculty and an international advisory board since 2009.
Alice Campbell-Cree and Mona Lotten, “The Value of Trust: How Trust is Earned and Why It Matters,” British Council, June 2018.
In this 23-page report, the British Council examines the importance of relationships and the value of trust as Britain prepares to leave the European Union. Following a brief look at the literature on trust, the report looks at (1) the role of UK values in earning trust, (2) the relationship between trust and people’s intentions to engage with the UK, and (3) connections between cultural relations activities, trust, and values. The report builds on previous British Council research and surveys in G-20 countries.
Charles T. Cleveland, Ryan C. Crocker, Daniel Egel, Andrew M. Liepman and David Maxwell, “An American Way of Political Warfare, A Proposal,” RAND, PE304, July 2018.
In this 12-page paper, two retired army officers (Cleveland and Maxwell), a retired ambassador (Crocker), a retired CIA officer (Liepman), and a RAND economist (Egel) call for a whole of government political warfare capability that orchestrates elements of national power in response to political threats from “revisionist, revolutionary, and rogue powers.” Their plan anticipates three core activities: “irregular warfare” led by the Department of Defense, “expeditionary diplomacy” led by the Department of State and USAID, and “covert political action” led by the Intelligence Community. Central to their proposal is creation of a National Political Warfare Center (NPWC). Its mission would be to study, understand, and develop action in response to “the full range of unconventional, irregular, political, informational, diplomatic, and economic threats and activities” employed by adversaries. Their conversation opener leaves key issues to be determined. Bipartisan support from the President and Congress. Buy-in from Defense, State, and other agencies. Building a political warfare capability that is effective and compatible with “progressive democracy.” Creating a roadmap and business plan capable of achieving their imagined goals.
“Leo P. Crespi Papers, Series 2, USIA Years,” Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton University.
Leo Crespi was a world-renowned public opinion researcher whose career, following his graduate education and eight years of teaching at Princeton, was devoted to foreign opinion research. From 1947-1953, he conducted a US government survey of public opinion in post-war Germany. He served as President of the World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR) from 1955-1956. He joined the US Information Agency in 1954 and for 32 years was a leading figure in shaping the Agency’s opinion surveys. His classified report on French and British opinion of the US, which appeared to support John F. Kennedy’s assertions about declining US prestige, was a factor in the 1960 election when it was leaked to the New York Times.
Crespi would subsequently say, when the episode created an uproar in the press and Congressional hearings, “We do not do prestige polls. Prestige is too vague and general a word to be helpful in our work.” His well-organized USIA papers, 15 linear feet in 15 boxes, consist of opinion surveys, research notes, correspondence, press clippings, and numerous copies of memoranda exchanged with USIA colleagues. The collection is a treasure trove that provides a window into the evolution of US foreign opinion research, USIA’s first three decades, US public diplomacy, and the contributions of a distinguished scholar practitioner.
Samantha Custer, Brooke Russell, Matthew DiLorenzo, Mengfan Cheng, Siddhartha Ghose, Harsh Desai, Jacob Sims, and Jennifer Turner, “Ties That Bind: Quantifying China’s Public Diplomacy and Its ‘Good Neighbor’ Effect,” AidData, William and Mary, June 2018.
AidData conducted this 85-page study in collaboration with the Asia Society Policy Institute and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), with funding from the US Department of State. It uses quantitative data from a variety of sources to “examine how China (1) packages positive messages about its culture, values, and beliefs for a general audience; and (2) facilitates positive interactions between its own citizens or leaders and those of other countries to increase mutual understanding and closer ties.” The study contains quantitative measures of China’s Confucius Institutes, sister cities exchanges, financial diplomacy, and official visits. It provides qualitative insights on China’s “informational diplomacy.” Ten findings are summarized in a separately linked Executive Summary.
Michiko Kakutani, The Death of Truth: Notes on Falsehood in the Age of Trump, (Tim Duggan Books, 2018).
Former New York Times
literary critic Kakutani explores a central question: “How did truth and reason become such endangered species, and what does their impending demise portend for our public discourse and the future of our politics and governance?” Her brief volume laments today’s assault on truth, language, and reason and seeks to explain its origins through a tapestry of insights from a variety of critics past and present. Chapters look at the decline of reason, postmodernism, social media, disinformation, fake news, tribes, attention deficit, embrace of subjectivity, conspiracy obsessions, and recurring episodes of irrationality in US history – a pattern that historian Richard Hofstadter called “the paranoid style” and novelist Philip Roth “the indigenous American berserk.” Her book can be read quickly. Kakutani has a flair for the apposite quote. Not all arguments convince (e.g., a heavy burden of blame placed on post modernism), but every page prompts useful reflection.
Jonathan McClory, in collaboration with Portland and USC Center on Public Diplomacy, “The Soft Power 30, A Global Ranking of Soft Power,” July 2018.
This fourth edition of the Soft Power 30 Index finds the UK in 1st
place, edging out France, the US continuing its decline now in 4th
place, with drops in governance and global favorability metrics, and Japan joining the top 5 with gains in culture, innovation, and international polling. The report provides information on the metrics and polling data used to support its rankings. It also includes short analytical pieces by 23 accomplished scholars and practitioners. The Soft Power 30 Index draws on the soft power views of Harvard scholar Joseph Nye, who comments favorably on this year’s methods and findings – adding that “Clearly, the Trump Administration’s ‘America First’ approach to foreign policy comes at a cost to U.S. global influence.” See also Portland’s July 12
, 2018 Media Release
and CPD’s webpage summary.
Michael McFaul, From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russia, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2018).
McFaul (Stanford University) has written a penetrating analysis of US / Russia relations and a highly readable account of his career (thus far) ranging from his early days as an activist for the National Democratic Institute in the Soviet Union, his role as Russia expert in President Obama’s National Security Council, and his years as US ambassador to Moscow during Vladimir Putin’s increasingly autocratic rule. Chapters cover a range of issues in modern diplomacy’s public dimension. Perceptions and misperceptions of democracy promotion in Russia, Georgia, and Ukraine. The mismatch between his two days of Foreign Service Institute ambassadorial training and the requirements of managing a whole of government platform embassy. A chapter filled with detail and lessons learned from his embrace of social media “as essential tools of our public diplomacy” is particularly instructive. McFaul “grew to like Twitter” but his “most pleasurable tool for engaging with Russians . . . was old-school public diplomacy at Spaso House,” the US ambassador’s storied residence. Twenty-two thousand guests in two years
earned McFaul a certificate for a “world record” from Spaso House staff. His account looks at cultural programs, American Corners before Putin shut them down, and insights into why outreach and engagement “do not translate neatly into impact” or help to achieve American national interests.
Chris Painter, “Diplomacy in Cyberspace,” The Foreign Service Journal, June 2018, 26-30.
Does the State Department need special envoys for complex transnational issues? Many career diplomats say no; existing bureaus and the career Foreign Service can handle them. Trump administration officials also say no, but for policy reasons, as demonstrated by moves that ended the position of Special Envoy for Climate Change led by Todd Stern from 2009-2016 and Coordinator for Cyber Issues led by Chris Painter from 2011-2017. In this article, Painter makes a compelling case for continuing an office with “a high level neutral reporting chain” dedicated to advancing US diplomacy on a broad range of cyber issues that include international security, deterrence, combating cybercrime, cyber security, promoting human rights online, and internet governance. These issues require strategic partnerships, multilateral and polylateral engagement, building consensus for cyber stability, responses to incidents, capacity building, shaping public perceptions, and advising on policy planning and communication strategies. Cyber issues cut across all functional and regional bureaus, and they require deep connections with the private sector and civil society. These are not issues that can be handled part time by one bureau or Foreign Service generalists. See also, Joseph Marks, “Bill To Reinstate and Elevate Top Cyber Diplomat Advances from Senate Committee,”
June 27, 2918, Nextgov.
James Pamment and Karen Gwinn Wilkins, eds., Communicating National Image Through Development and Diplomacy, The Politics of Foreign Aid, (Palgrave, 2018).
Pamment (Lund University, Sweden) and Wilkins (University of Texas at Austin) have compiled essays that bridge research and practice in the fields of development communication and public diplomacy, with considerable attention also to nation branding, soft power, and globalization. Readers will find much on offer in this volume’s interdisciplinary approach. Thoughtful foundational essays by the editors provide insights into concepts and literature in current scholarship as well as their own integrative frameworks. Their approach emphasizes the importance of understanding development and diplomacy as practiced by organizations pursuing political agendas – thereby reinforcing the growing value of practice theory. These ideas and methods are developed in case studies by accomplished scholars from a broad cross-section of universities: Kosovo
(Nadia Kaneva, University of Denver); Colombia
(Olga Lucía Sorzano, University of London, and Toby Miller, University of California, Riverside); South Korea
(Kyung Sun Lee, University of Texas, Austin); Sweden
(Andreas Åkerlund, Södertörn University, Stockholm), Turkey (Senem B. Çevik, University of California, Irvine; Efe Sevin, Reinhardt University; and Banu Baybars-Hawks, Kadir Has University); Mexico (Rebecka Villanueva Ulfgard, Instituto Mora, Mexico City); United States and China in Afghanistan
(Diane Wu, American University); and China
(Larisa Smirnova, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow).
PDx, Public Diplomacy Examined Podcasts, Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication (IPDGC), George Washington University.
GWU’s IPDGC has initiated a series of podcasts with scholars and diplomacy practitioners on issues relating to the study and practice of public diplomacy. The series was initiated, and its early podcasts were hosted, by IPDGC’s PD Fellow Robert Ogburn,
a career Foreign Service Officer who has returned to the Department of State following completion of his assignment at GWU where he taught courses, mentored students, and organized university forums.
Ben Rhodes, The World As It Is: A Memoir of the Obama White House, (Random House: 2018).
There is much to recommend in Rhodes’ reflections on his years as senior speechwriter and deputy national security advisor to President Obama. His views on how key speeches (Cairo, Berlin, Oslo, West Point, Havana) shaped perceptions of policies and US diplomacy. Public events during Presidential trips as critical tools in diplomacy’s public dimension. His accounts of communication issues underlying Obama’s Cairo speech, subsequent diplomacy in the Arab world, Libya and Syria policies, the Innocence of Muslims
video and death of US diplomat Christopher Stevens in Benghazi, and the US opening to Cuba. His book provides ample evidence that monologue (presidential speeches, press events) matters in diplomacy. (See Geoffrey Cowan and Amelia Arsenault, “Moving from Monologue, to Dialogue, to Collaboration,” The Annals,
2008.) Rhodes laments and conveys well how US national security agencies privilege terrorism and other threats at the expense of global trends (climate, governance, food, health). Readers will look in vain, however, for insights into how Rhodes carried out his duties self-described as being “in charge of the sprawling ways the United States reaches foreign publics – from exchange programs to information operations” (p. 69). Here there is nothing. The term “public diplomacy” appears on the book’s dust jacket in a list of his responsibilities. But the term appears nowhere in the book, just as it never appeared in President Obama’s public discourse. This does not mean Obama and Rhodes were inattentive to diplomacy’s public dimension at the presidential level. Quite the opposite. It was central to the Obama presidency. But it does provide further evidence the term is losing salience – other than as a legacy label for bureaus in the State Department and a career subset in the Foreign Service. Less rumination by Rhodes on his moods during moments of stress and euphoria and more assessment of the whole of government role of the “deputy national security advisor for strategic communications and speech writing” would have enhanced the book’s value for practitioners.
David Sanger, The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age, (Crown Publishing, 2018). New York Times
national security correspondent Sanger builds on his superb reporting and earlier books (The Inheritance
and Confront and Conceal
) with this tour d’horizon of how cyber weapons are transforming the exercise of power by states and other actors. Much of the book focuses on the technologies of cyber capabilities and shortcomings in how they are understood and used. Here his focus is on infrastructure and physical effects. But Sanger also devotes several chapters to the political and diplomacy implications of how information content is understood and used. Disinformation. Manipulated elections. Amplification by social media. Privacy issues. Ukraine. Victoria Nuland’s diplomacy backed by force. Putin’s trolls and grievances. Facebook’s dilemmas. Fake news. And more. His book offers few solutions. But he does a most excellent job of portraying the confounding challenges of gray zone conflict between war and peace, blazing rates of technological change, insufficient public discourse, and vulnerabilities born of strengths and choices in free societies.
Timothy Snyder, The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America, (Tim Duggan Books, 2018).
This book works at several levels for diplomacy scholars and practitioners. Yale historian Snyder (author of On Tyranny
) provides a compelling account of contemporary history, the rise of antidemocratic politics, Russia’s turn against Europe and invasion of Ukraine, the Brexit vote, and the Trump presidency. Snyder skillfully weaves together patterns and concepts that illuminate the agency of political actors, their ideas, and their media strategies. At the tactical level, he offers insights into such communication methods as “implausible deniability,” “fake news,” “information war,” “unifying fictions,” “lies so enormous that they could not be doubted,” and “proclamations of innocence” – tactics “not meant to convince in a factual sense, but to guide in a narrative sense.” At the strategic level, Snyder frames thought provoking arguments. Americans and Europeans are guided by competition between a “politics of inevitability” (a better future beckons through reforms following known laws of progress) and a “politics of eternity” (time as a circle endlessly grounded in threats, victimhood, an imagined past, and politics as spectacle). He argues empire and integration are more analytically useful models for understanding European and American history than the traditional frame of nation-states with fixed borders. Concerned citizens must retain the ability to distinguish between facts and desires and make choices between equality and oligarchy, individuality and totality, and truth and falsehood.
Gregory M. Tomlin, “‘The Last Three Feet,’ Reinvesting in Tactical Information Operations,” Military Review Online Exclusive, August 2018.
LTC Tomlin (Directorate for Intelligence, the Joint Staff, Pentagon; author of Murrow’s Cold War: Public Diplomacy for the Kennedy Administration
) draws on the iconic “last three feet” phrase, made famous by Edward R. Murrow, in this critique of the Army’s recent decision to eliminate information (IO) officers from tactical level brigade combat teams. The decision centralizes IO officers at the division level often at a noncontiguous remove from operations among local populations. The decision, Tomlin argues, “seriously jeopardizes” the ability of combat teams to gain credibility and engage in dialogue with people often suspicious of US intentions. His article profiles ways combat units gain from face-to-face engagement: operationally useful knowledge of local concerns and views, continuity and effectiveness in information operations, enhanced integration of IO with other joint force capabilities, and maintenance of a clear boundary and mutually advantageous relations between IO and public affairs. Importantly, his article also demonstrates how tactical IO capabilities advance Defense Secretary James Mattis’s recent decision
to elevate information
as a new seventh joint function of US armed forces.
Deborah L. Trent, Many Voices, Many Hands: Widening Participatory Dialogue to Improve Diplomacy’s Impact, CPD Perspectives, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, Paper 4, May 2018.
Deborah Trent is an independent consultant and board member of the Public Diplomacy Council. Her paper argues for the importance of public-private partnerships in diplomacy’s public dimension and a relational approach to how they are planned, put into practice, monitored, and evaluated. She adopts a multi-stakeholder perspective that includes governance actors at national and city levels and an array of non-state actors. She focuses particularly on diasporas (defined as ethnic minority groups of migrant origins) as well as cultural and educational nonprofits, and business and civic groups interested in promoting trade, tourism, development and cultural ties. Trent constructs an analytical framework grounded in contextual and process variables and “a set of measurable strategic-engagement communication practices.” These are applied in her evaluation of three cases: Engagement Alliance (IdEA), a US State Department supported international disapora, and sister city partnerships between Chicago and Kyiv and between Montgomery County, Maryland and Morazán, El Salvador.
US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, Optimizing Engagement: Research, Evaluation and Learning in Public Diplomacy, April 2018.
This agenda setting and deeply informed Commission report comes in two parts: (1) an essay by the Commission’s executive director Shawn Powers frames four detailed recommendations for optimizing and integrating research and evaluation in US public diplomacy, and (2) a study by M&C Saatchi World Services engaged by the Commission to assess methods and best practices of leading public diplomacy actors in other countries. The study, led by Saatchi’s chief research officer Gerry Power, examines 28 case studies in 17 countries. This Commission report and its earlier signature report, Data Driven Public Diplomacy
, build on 70 years of Commission reports urging greater emphasis on research and evaluation in US public diplomacy. Taken together these reports make clear that sophisticated assessment tools, when used by diplomats, enhance their understanding of opinions and mediated environments, contribute to policy formulation, and improve their diplomacy. But these reports beg a fundamental question. Research and evaluation are given high priority in political campaigns, corporate advertising, NGO strategies, and military planning. Why for so long have they lacked comparable priority in diplomacy? Future Commission reports could usefully expand their optic from the tools themselves to a hard look at the political, organizational, and professional shortcomings that marginalize their use in American diplomacy. How can diplomacy’s resources for research and evaluation be brought into line with industry standards? What are practical ways to reward
their consistent use through preconditions to program contracts awards, compulsory training requirements, links to career officer advancement, and other means?
Clint Watts, Messing With the Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians, and Fake News, (Harper, 2018).
Former FBI agent Watts (now affiliated with George Washington University and MSNBC) writes about lessons learned from his freelance and institutional experiences with the social media platforms of al-Qaeda, al Shabaab, the Islamic State, Russian troll farms, and other actors. For diplomacy practitioners, a central theme turns on his critique of US public diplomacy and information operations after 9/11, analysis of Russia’s active measures during the Cold War and today, arguments for updating techniques used by USIA on social media, and views on the State Department’s Global Engagement Center. Watts deplores the jargon, unwieldy size, security clearance barriers, and complex regulations in government contracting systems. He argues they are intended to create a mirror image of government and wind up limiting potential benefits of outside talent and fresh ideas. Filled with practical advice on dealing with a range of challenges from preference bubbles to fake news, his observations are grounded in a belief that countries succeed by what they do, not what they say. “U.S. policy for influence operations might ultimately be to do nothing at all, except figure out what we stand for, what we believe in, and what we will again fight for.”
Candace L. White and Kathy R. Fitzpatrick, “Corporate Perspectives on the Role of Global Public Relations in Public Diplomacy,” Journal of Public Relations, Vol. 11, Issue 4, May 2018.
White (University of Tennessee) and Fitzpatrick (American University) examine the role of multinational corporations as non-state actors in public diplomacy. Their well-organized paper includes a literature review, an explanation of their research method (the RAND Corporation’s Delphi panel technique), a statement of research questions, discussion of findings and implications, an assessment of the limitations of their research based on a small sample size, and suggestions for further study. Among their findings are the following. Corporate leaders believe positive diplomatic relations between the US and countries where they do business are good for business. Corporate social responsibility activities by US companies have a “halo effect” on national image. Foreign images of the US have some effect on corporate images. Corporate executives feel no obligation to engage in US public diplomacy. They see some potential for strategic partnerships that involve sharing corporate expertise with public diplomats, if government seeks their participation.
R. S. Zaharna, “Global Engagement: Culture and Insights from Public Diplomacy,” Chapter 21, pp. 313-330, in Kim A. Johnston and Maureen Taylor, eds., The Handbook of Communication Engagement, (Wiley-Blackwell, 2018).
In this chapter, Zaharna (American University), a pioneer in “the relational turn” in public diplomacy studies, takes a deep theoretical dive into concepts of engagement and their different manifestations in public diplomacy. Her thesis: “in order to ‘engage’ publics globally, one needs an expansive vision of ‘engagement’ that spans multiple understandings of what makes engagement meaningful to different publics around the world.” She begins with a brief account of the evolution of engagement in US public diplomacy’s study and practice, followed by a review of limitations in traditional intercultural communication models. Then, with a discussion of differing relational premises in communication and engagement, she sets the stage for an examination of how they shape three logics of engagement using their relational premise, characteristics, and a case example. (1) Individual logic:
attributes and agency of a “communicator,” messages, media, audience, goal orientation, and measurability, exemplified in Sweden’s digital diplomacy. (2) Relational associative logic:
paired contact points, physical co-presence, nonverbal behavior, emotion perspective taking, and symbolism, exemplified by Cuba’s medical diplomacy in the 2014 Ebola crisis. (3) Holistic integrative logic:
an expansive view of relations, interpenetrating, interconnectedness, diversity, synchrony and synergy, exemplified in China’s cultural diplomacy.
Recent Blogs and Other Items of Interest
Ellen Ehrnrooth, Part 1, “Aiming Towards Africa: An Assessment of Competing Public Diplomacy Strategies,”
August 2, 2018; Part 2, “Aiming Towards Africa: Outcomes of U.S., Chinese, Russian Public Diplomacy Strategies,”
August 3, 2018; Part 1, “Why Now? The Necessity and Challenges of New Public Diplomacy Strategy Toward the DPRK,”
June 21, 2018; Part 2, “What Now? How To Go About a New Public Diplomacy Strategy Towards the DPRK,”
June 28, 2018, American Security Project.
Gem From The Past
“Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Strategic Communication,” January 2008, Recommendations, 88-105; “Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Strategic Communication,” September 2004, Recommendations, 60-85; and “Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Managed Information Dissemination,” October 2001, Recommendations, 50-64.
Vulnerability to varieties of cyber attacks has renewed public interest in information domain capabilities and structures, continuing a century long pattern of episodic “rediscovery” in American statecraft. Calls grow louder for “a USIA on steroids,” an empowered State Department “global engagement center,” and a “whole of government political warfare capability.” Three Defense Science Board studies in the 2000s – each written by essentially the same small group of accomplished public diplomats, military officers, scholars, and scientists – reward a second look. Their remarkably consistent core recommendations address net-centric solutions, iterative planning, bipartisan political will, deep understanding of cultures and influence networks, adaptive and risk tolerant practitioners, top down whole of government authorities grounded in new law (vice nominal coordination), and a federally funded government-private center to leverage civil society’s skills, knowledge, and imagination.
Efforts at George Washington University’s Public Diplomacy Institute, the Wilson Center, and elsewhere to create a road map and business plan to implement these recommendations and those in other studies did not succeed largely due to lack of interest in the Department of State. Although political circumstances and technologies have changed, the net-centric ideas in these reports remain relevant.