Sarah Alaoui, “Tired Narratives, Weary Publics: Public Diplomacy’s Role in the Struggle for Influence in the Middle East,” October 2, 2018, Center for American Progress.
Alaoui (Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, SAIS) examines the public diplomacy of Iran, selected Arab states, and the United States in the Middle East with emphasis on the years since the 2003 Iraq War. Her study discusses the narratives, tactics, and activities of each actor. She also recommends ways the US can enhance its public diplomacy “to better counter and effectively compete with Iran in this space.” Alaoui advances three key arguments. (1) “Iran uses public diplomacy in the Middle East as a key component of its efforts to shape regional dynamics.” (2) “Leading Arab governments have not engaged in sustained public diplomacy efforts in key arenas of competition with Iran.” (3) “U.S. public diplomacy in the region is hindered by perceptions about U.S. policy and recent administration efforts that have cut resources for the State Department and other agencies engaged in soft power.”
Babak Bahador and Daniel Kerchner, Monitoring Hate Speech in the US Media, Media and Peacebuilding Project, George Washington University, January 2019.
GWU’s research team seeks “to create awareness and accountability regarding hate speech by identifying the sources, targets, and intensity of hate speech in leading US media political talk/news shows” (radio, cable news, and YouTube). The authors define and examine hate speech targeted at groups, recognizing both lack of agreement on the term’s meaning and its widespread use in law and society. The study uses an automated extraction method to identify potential instances of hate speech, which then are validated by human coders using a 6-level hate speech intensity scale.
Mieczysław P. Boduszyński, Public Diplomacy and the American Fortress Embassy: Balancing Mission and Security, CPD Perspectives, University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy, December 2018.
Boduszyński (Pomona College) draws on personal diplomatic experience, interviews with current and retired diplomats, and a survey of relevant policy and practitioner literature in this assessment of one of diplomacy’s hard problems: how should diplomats and foreign ministries responsibly manage risk and simultaneously engage in effective public diplomacy? His central argument is that “a culture of extreme risk aversion at ‘fortress embassies’ has hampered the ability of the State Department to effectively carry out public diplomacy programs” with consequent harm to US foreign policy objectives. Boduszyński’s thoughtful paper effectively frames important issues, examines historical challenges reaching back to the US embassy bombing in Beirut in 1983, provides views of numerous practitioners, and offers policy recommendations for changing the imbalance between mission and security in “high threat” diplomatic posts.
Robert Chesney and Danielle Citron, “Deepfakes and the New Disinformation War,” Foreign Affairs,January/February 2019, 147-155.
Chesney (University of Texas at Austin) and Citron (University of Maryland) discuss the rise of “highly realistic and difficult-to-detect digital manipulations of audio or video” in digital technology. They argue that as deepfakes develop and spread, “the current disinformation wars may soon look like the propaganda equivalent of the era of swords and shields.” Legal and technological solutions – forensic technology, authenticating content before it spreads, “authenticated alibi services,” criminalizing certain acts – may help. But deepfakes will become better and cheaper, and democracies will have to learn resilience and how to live with lies.
Larry Diamond and Orville Schell, co-chairs, “Chinese Influence & American Interests: Promoting Constructive Vigilance,” Report of the Working Group on Chinese Influence Activities in the United States, Hoover Institution Press, November 29, 2018.
Diamond (Stanford University) and Schell (Asia Society) analyze China’s influence activities in a cross-section of US governance and civil society sectors: Congress, state and local governments, Chinese-American communities, universities, think tanks, media, corporations, and the technology sector. The authors discuss their historical context and distinctions between “legitimate influence” and “improper interference” that challenges core American values, norms, and laws. They argue Russia’s influence activities are more invasive than China’s, but the latter nevertheless call for “constructive vigilance,” a variety of policy responses, and a balance between passivity and overreaction. The report includes a dissenting opinion by Susan Shirk (University of California, San Diego) and appendices on China’s influence operations bureaucracy, influence activities in eight countries, and the range and reach of Chinese-language media in the United States. Diamond’s summary of this 196-page report
is also available online. See also Ellen Nakashima, “China Specialists Who Long Supported Engagement Are Now Warning of Beijing’s Efforts to Influence American Society,”
November 28, 2018, The Washington Post.
Adam B. Ellick and Adam Westbrook, “Operation Infektion: Russian Disinformation from Cold War to Kanye,” Opinion Video Series, The New York Times, November 2018. New York Times
correspondent Ellick and film actor Westbrook have produced a three part online film series on Russia’s decades long use of disinformation and fake news against the West. Episode 1 looks at the Soviet Union’s pre-Internet campaign to portray AIDS as a US biological weapon in 1984. Episode 2 examines how “the seven rules of Soviet disinformation” are used in fake news stories today. Episode 3 explores ways in which governments worldwide are responding to disinformation. The episodes are approximately 15 minutes each and can be viewed on The New York Times
website. (Courtesy of Len Baldyga)
Adam Entous and Jon Lee Anderson, “Havana Syndrome,” The New Yorker, November 19, 2018, 34-47.
In this “Letter from Cuba,” New Yorker
staff writers Entous and Anderson provide an excellent account of what is known and not known about the mysterious ailment that has afflicted US diplomats and CIA agents in Cuba. Their essay is set in the context of negotiations leading to the Obama administration’s rapprochement with Cuba, the Trump administration’s Cuba policy, and recent governance changes in Cuba. Entous and Anderson draw on the public record and a host of interviews, on the record and on background, with US policymakers and career diplomats including Benjamin Rhodes, Marco Rubio, H.R. McMaster, Craig Deare, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, Mari Carmen Aponte, Roberta Jacobson, Audrey Lee, and Vicki Huddleston. The authors, both seasoned journalists, provide a current and informed case study in diplomatic risk.
Ali Fisher, Netwar in Cyberia: Decoding the Media Mujahidin, CPD Perspectives, University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy, October 2018.
Former CPD Research Fellow Ali Fisher draws on his knowledge of public diplomacy, netwar strategies, and digital technologies in this analysis of the increasingly effective use of digital platforms and online audiovisual content by jihadist groups. He argues public diplomacy “cannot keep pace with the speed, agility, and resilience of the Media Mujahidin and their communication techniques.” His 113-page paper explores ways to understand and assess information dissemination systems used in jihadist strategies. Based on his data analysis, Fisher calls for a more networked approach in public diplomacy’s interaction with foreign publics and strategies that effectively navigate the languages, ideas, digital platforms, knowledge barriers, and credibility gaps in approaches to jihadist movements.
Foreign Relations of the United States: 1917-1972, Volume VII, Public Diplomacy, 1964-1968, Charles V. Hawley, ed., Office of the Historian, US Department of State, 2018.
State Department historians continue their retrospective coverage of US public diplomacy with this publication of documents from the Lyndon B. Johnson administration. Papers from the US Information Agency, State Department, the White House, and Congress focus on public diplomacy in the context of the Cold War, the Vietnam War, nuclear test ban treaty negotiations, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, US intervention in the Dominican Republic, the Civil Rights Movement, and transition to the Johnson administration following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The documents, a list of persons, and an appendix with online videos with transcripts are accessible online in an easily navigated website.
“Global Trends in Democracy: Background, U.S. Policy, and Issues for Congress,” [author’s name redacted], Congressional Reference Service, CRS Report R45344, October 17, 2018.
This comprehensive report contains a great deal of useful information for scholars, policy analysts, and diplomacy practitioners. Early sections provide a “brief conceptual background on democracy and on democracy promotion’s historical role in U.S. policy,” analysis of “trends in the global level of democracy using data from two major democracy indexes,” and discussion of “key factors that may be broadly affecting democracy around the world.” It then summarizes debates on US democracy promotion’s relevance to national interests, tradeoffs with other policy objectives, and questions of capacity and effectiveness. The report concludes with discussion of six issues for Congress to consider.
1. “How does the Trump Administration view democracy promotion?”
2. “How much emphasis should the United States place on democracy promotion?”
3. “What tools exist for targeted U.S. foreign policy responses to particular challenges?”
4. “How much funding should be provided for democracy promotion programs?”
5. “How can democracy programs be meaningfully evaluated and/or usefully targeted?”
6. “Should the United States work to form new international initiatives to defend democracy?”
The report is written in CRS’s usual even-handed way. Breakout boxes focus on particular issues: metrics provided by Freedom House, the Economist Intelligence Unit, and the Pew Research Center; authoritarian “soft” and “sharp” power; populism and nationalism; and limitations and caveats in measuring support for democracy. Footnotes provide an extensive literature review.
Craig Hayden, “Digital Diplomacy,” in Gordon Martel, ed., The Encyclopedia of Diplomacy,(John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., 2018).
Hayden (Marine Corps University) brings insights and his well-regarded scholarship to this Encyclopedia
entry on the meaning of digital diplomacy. His essay explores how the term has been used at the intersection of technology and diplomatic practice. He reflects on how it enters discussions of diplomacy, public diplomacy, and foreign policy. Importantly, he builds on existing scholarship to suggest ways in which digital diplomacy may signify changes in our understanding of “diplomatic practice, agency, and its enduring role as an integral institution of the international system.” Not least, Hayden offers thoughts on how digital diplomacy might illuminate interdisciplinary scholarship and re-energize academic attention to diplomacy’s practice and necessity. Numerous references direct the reader to cutting edge thinking on a term now in widespread use and possible future directions in 21st
John Kerry, Every Day is Extra, (Simon & Schuster, 2018).
The former Naval officer, anti-Vietnam war activist, US Senator, presidential candidate, and Secretary of State sums it all up in this memoir filled with historical insights and practical advice. Diplomacy scholars and practitioners will find much on offer. Kerry, as Senator, engaging in high stakes diplomacy in Pakistan and Afghanistan. His appreciation of diplomacy’s public and political dimensions. His understanding of “smart power.” His belief in diplomacy “as a means to an end,” not an American gift. His respect for the hard work of career diplomats taking risks, supported by illuminating examples, coupled with views on an often risk averse State Department bureaucracy. Kerry’s diplomatic skills reflect his experiences in politics and knowledge of a world “more crowded, more interdependent, less hierarchical, more influenced by nonstate actors, and filled with connections between economic issues and social, political, and security concerns.” Chapters with tick-tocks on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iran nuclear agreement, Syrian civil war, and climate change are essential diplomatic history. An enjoyable read for general audiences and a must read in foreign ministry training and professional education courses.
Open Doors 2018, Institute of International Education (IIE) and Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), US Department of State, released November 13, 2018.
The latest IIE report on flows of international students in the United States and US students studying abroad presents a mixed picture. International students in the US have reached a new high of 1.09 million, due primarily to the lingering effect of high enrollment before 2016 and increased participation in a special practical training program for up to 12 months (36 months in STEM fields) following completion of their academic programs. US students abroad grew by 2.3 percent to 332,727. New international student enrollments in the US fell by 6.6 percent in 2017/18 “continuing a slowing or downward trend first observed in the 2015/16 academic year.” See also, Catherine Rampell, “One of America’s Greatest Exports is in Trouble,”
December 13, 2018, The Washington Post
and Angel Cabrera, “Make America Welcoming to International Students Again,”
November 13, 2018, The Washington Post.
Andreas Pacher, “The Ritual Creation of Political Symbols: International Exchanges in Public Diplomacy,” British Journal of Politics & International Relations,July 2018.
In this article, Pacher (independent researcher, Austria) connects practitioner concepts of international exchanges, particularly opinion leader and relational models, with scholarship based on a theory of interaction ritual chains. Rituals in this sense are mechanisms of mutually focused emotion and cognitive attention with political relevance and effects. Exchanges, he argues, can be understood as “exercises of political socialization” in which situations under a public diplomat’s control are linked to other situations during the exchange. Power is utilized but its obvious exercise is minimized. Pacher’s purpose is to move beyond numerous studies that emphasize situational processes and goals of international exchanges (mutual understanding, soft power, relationship management) to provide a theory of how goals can be achieved. His article contains an excellent literature review on exchange programs, a brief illustrative case that links his claims to a 2017 Polish government public diplomacy exchange program, and a conclusion that points to strengths and limitations of his argument and directions for further research.
Wendy R. Sherman, Not For the Faint of Heart, (Public Affairs, 2018).
Sherman (Albright Stonebridge Group) tells her story of a life devoted to diplomacy (when Democrats are in power), political activism, social work, and the worlds of think tanks, Harvard’s Belfer Center, the Aspen Strategy Group, and MSNBC contributor. Much of the book is a close and candid look at diplomatic methods in chapters built on concepts: courage, common ground, power, letting go, building your team, persistence, and success. Sherman provides an abundance of detail on tactics, personalities (career and non-career), and challenges facing women in politics and diplomacy. Her narrative provides a deep dive into her roles in senior State Department positions (Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations, Counselor to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Under Secretary for Political Affairs) and her negotiations with Russia, North Korea, and Iran. Not surprisingly, she gives detailed emphasis to the P5 +1 negotiations leading to the Iran Nuclear Deal. Dominant characteristics of 21st
century diplomacy – media relations, political risk, and whole of government diplomacy – are themes throughout.
Volker Stanzel, ed., New Realities in Foreign Affairs: Diplomacy in the 21stCentury, SWP Berlin, German Institute for International and Security Affairs, Research Paper 11, November 2018.
In this excellent compilation, leading thinkers in diplomacy studies and practice examine changes in the character of modern diplomacy. Their papers focus on four changes likely to have long-term impact and governments’ responses to them: (1) changes in the personality of individual diplomats and their recruitment and training, (2) fundamental changes deriving from technologies, with emphasis on digitization, (3) increases in “diplomatically active” actors, and (4) dealing with new and emotionalized publics seeking to participate in governance. The papers, available online, are the product of a working group on Diplomacy in the 21stCentury
supported by the German Federal Foreign Office and ZEIT-Stiftung.
Volker Stanzel (SWP Berlin, German Council of Foreign Relations), “Introduction: Following the Wrong Track or Walking on Stepping Stones – Which Way for Diplomacy?”
Sascha Lohmann (SWP Berlin), “Diplomats and the Use of Economic Sanctions.”
Andrew Cooper (University of Waterloo), “Populism and the Domestic Challenge to Diplomacy.”
Christer Jönsson (Lund University), “Diplomatic Representation: States and Beyond.”
Corneliu Bjola (University of Oxford), “Trends and Counter-Trends in Digital Diplomacy.”
Emillie V. de Keulenaar (University of Amsterdam) and Jan Melissen (Leiden University, Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’), “Critical Digital Diplomacy and How Theory Can Inform Practice.”
Karsten Voight (German Council on Foreign Policy), “Perpetual Change: Remarks on Diplomacy Today in the European Union.”
Kim B. Olsen (University of Antwerp), “The Domestic Challenges of European Geoeconomic Diplomacy”
Hanns W. Maull (SWP Berlin, Bologna Center of Johns Hopkins University), “Autism in Foreign Policy.”
Rhonda Zaharna (American University), “Digital Diplomacy as Diplomatic Sites: Emotion, Identity & Do-it-Yourself Politics.”
US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, “2018 Comprehensive Annual Report on Public Diplomacy & International Broadcasting,” November 20, 2018.
The 2018 report (214 pages) of this bipartisan presidential Commission divides into three parts. First, the summary contains an overview of public diplomacy spending and the Commission’s 27 recommendations to the White House, Congress, State Department and US Agency for International Broadcasting (pp. 30-42). Key recommendations: (1) White House priority for management and public diplomacy expertise in recruiting a new Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs; (2) Congressional support for exploring a merger of State’s Bureaus of Public Affairs and International Programs; (3) adequate funding appropriated directly to the State Department for its Global Engagement Center rather than through the Defense Department; (4) new legislative authority for State’s public diplomacy mission; (5) clear guidance for the Voice of America’s editorial process; (6) greater coordination of US broadcasting’s services and grantees to achieve less duplication and greater efficiencies; (7) an external audit of research and evaluation procedures in State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and a strategic review of the Bureau’s structure and more than 75 programs; and (8) identification of digital metrics with relevance to State’s programs and outreach. Second, the bulk of the report (pp. 43-214) consists of descriptions, graphics, and budget information provided by the State Department and US broadcasters on their programs and activities in the US and abroad. Third, in a welcome addition, the Commission has reprinted recent speeches on public diplomacy (pp. 8-29) by senior practitioners: Ryan E. Walsh, Elisabeth Fitzsimmons, Jonathan Henick, Shawn Powers, Will Stephens, and Ambassador (ret.) Bruce Wharton.
Joby Warrick and Anton Troianovski, “Agents of Doubt: How a Powerful Russian Propaganda Machine Chips Away at Western Notions of Truth,” The Washington Post,December 10, 2018.
In this lengthy article, Post
correspondents Warrick and Troianovski document – with detailed reporting, video, web links, and a timeline graphic – how Russia has used false narratives and conspiracy theories to sew confusion following the attempted assassination of Russian spy defector Sergei Skripal and his daughter in London.
Audra J. Wolfe, Freedom’s Laboratory: The Cold War Struggle for the Soul of Science, (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2018).
In this book on science in US psychological operations strategies and cultural diplomacy during the Cold War, Wolfe (writer, historian, author of Competing with the Soviets: Technology and the State in Cold War America
, 2013) advances several propositions. First, the growing literature on overt and covert Cold War cultural diplomacy operations, dominated by attention to education and cultural products in the arts and literature, is largely silent on the role of science. Her book seeks to remedy this. Second, the shared view of the US foreign policy establishment and American scientists that science transcends politics, a belief central to US ideological offensives against Soviet authoritarianism, belied a historical record in which the loudest voices for scientific freedom and internationalism were at least as interested in advancing US policies and “a system of privilege from which they stood to benefit.” Third, historians who have written extensively about USIA, the State Department, and the CIA’s Congress of Cultural Freedom have neglected the Asia Foundation and its relationship to the CIA. Her research on the Asia Foundation breaks new ground. Readers will find much on offer in (1) her discussion of the CIA’s cultural operations funding, the National Science Foundation, Pugwash Conferences, USIA’s planning papers and science textbook programs, and State Department science attaches; (2) an epilogue devoted to President Obama’s science envoys in Muslim majority countries and science diplomacy in the Iran nuclear negotiations; and (3) her excellent notes and bibliography.
Recent Blogs and Other Items of Interest
Gems From The Past
The growing literature on “fake news” and 21st
century “truth decay” recalls reports on Soviet active measures prepared by USIA and the CIA during and immediately after the Cold War. The following are available online. “Soviet Active Measures in the Era of Glasnost,”
A Report to Congress by the United States Information Agency, March 1988. This 91-page report details examples, media sources, and chronologies of disinformation on AIDs, “ethnic weapons,” the 1978 Jonestown mass suicide, forgeries, and trafficking in body parts. The report includes an account of US measures to counter Soviet active measures and an Appendix: “Soviet Disinformation During Periods of Relaxed East-West Tension,” a report prepared by Stephen Schwartz for USIA’s Office of Research, January 1988. Other sources include a statement by former CIA Deputy Director for Intelligence Robert M. Gates, “Soviet Active Measures,”
Hearings Before the Senate Subcommittee on European Affairs, September 12, 1985 and “Soviet Active Measures in the ‘Post-Cold War’ Era 1988-1991,”
A Report Prepared at the Request of the US House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations by the United States Information Agency, 1992.