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Logo for Learning LIfe In the latest PDx episode, SMPA graduate student Victoria Makanjuola talks to Paul Lachelier, founder and director of Washington, DC-based non-profit lab Learning Life. Through programs such as International Mentoring and Family Diplomacy Initiative, Learning Life hopes to get people and their families more involved in diplomacy and learning about the world.

More on the podcast on the importance of Citizen Diplomacy: go HERE


This fall 2020 marks the 2nd anniversary of the Public Diplomacy Examined podcast. This podcast takes a look at the world of public diplomacy, professional exchanges, international education, global careers, and foreign affairs.

This past summer, SMPA graduate student Victoria Makanjuola worked at the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication as the PDx assistant showrunner. Victoria took on the tasks of researching and writing, conducting interviews, and handling the technical production of the podcasts.

Along the way, she had many good conversations with professors of foreign relations, exchange specialists, cultural ambassadors, leaders of non-profits, and others in this diverse field.

Victoria's PDx internship was supported by the Walter Roberts Endowment, which provided five students with small grants to pursue internships in public diplomacy work.

>Go to IPDGC Smart Power to read more about Victoria and her work on the PDx podcast. The first podcast will feature the new student organization, Young Black Professional in International Affairs, and its founder, Hannah Jackson.

Intended for teachers of public diplomacy and related courses, here is an update on resources that may be of general interest.  Suggestions for future updates are welcome. 

Bruce Gregory can be reached at

Anne Applebaum, Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism,  (Doubleday, 2020).  Applebaum, respected journalist, historian, and public intellectual, looks at challenges to liberal democracy, the appeal of nationalism, and ways political allies, civil servants, and media voices enable populist autocratic leaders.  She draws on insights of Julian Bender (La Trahison Des Clerks) to examine the role of today’s intellectuals in the rise of authoritarians.  She enlists Cicero, Hamilton, Jefferson, and the highly relevant Hannah Arendt, in illuminating the susceptibility of many citizens to “the new reality.”  Authoritarians succeed in large measure, she argues, because “pamphleteers, bloggers, spin doctors, producers of television programs, and creators of memes” are crucial to their public image.  Her book stands out in the growing library on democracy’s travails.  See also, Applebaum’s essay, “The Voice of America Will Sound Like Trump,”  The Atlantic, June 22, 2020.  News reports and opinion columns on VOA and its parent organization, the US Agency on Global Media (USAGM), have mushroomed this summer.  A selected list is included below.  Based on numerous interviews, most on background, she discusses the statements and actions of Michael Pack, the USAGM’s controversial new CEO, and speculates as to his motives and agenda.

Dan Balz, “America’s Global Standing Is At A Low Point. The Pandemic Made It Worse,”  July 26, 2020, The Washington Post.  The Post’s senior political reporter looks at how Trump’s shattering of a “70-year consensus among U.S. presidents of both political parties” has created perceptions abroad of the US “as withdrawn and inward looking, a reluctant and unreliable partner at a dangerous moment for the world.”  His lengthy assessment is filled with polling data and assessments from a broad range of perspectives.

Jorge G. Castañeda, America Through Foreign Eyes, (Oxford University Press, 2020).  Mexico’s former foreign minister sets his meditation on America in the context of a long line of visitors (de Tocqueville, Dickens, Bryce, Naipaul) with the intent of writing a sympathetic foreign critique for American readers.  His book provides deeply informed perspectives on American exceptionalism, American culture, the nation’s shortcomings, a dysfunctional democracy that renders its “uniqueness” no longer self-evident, “Apple and Wall Street,” American pragmatism and hypocrisy, race and religion, and a menu of problems: increased inequality, drugs, immigration, mass incarceration, the death penalty, guns, and other challenges.  Castañeda brings a half century of friendships and government relations with Americans to his “foreigner’s assessment of what is going wrong and how it might be fixed.”  He is optimistic that America’s soft power resources (technology, food, entertainment media, universities, and research labs) will remain strong.  But for a world growing weary of Trump and his enablers, America’s best hope is to confront its misplaced obsession with exceptionalism, its race and wealth inequality, and its “breach of contract with liberalism and tolerance.”

“Ethics in Diplomacy,”  Public Diplomacy Magazine, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, Issue 23, Summer 2020.  This edition of PD Magazine offers a variety of brief articles on conceptual, historical, topical, state-based, and practice-based inquiries into the place of ethics in public diplomacy.  They divide into four categories.  What should ethical diplomacy look like?  What are important ethical considerations?  What can be learned from the past?  And ethics during a pandemic.  Edited by USC students, PD Magazine blends the work of students, scholars, and practitioners.  It is entering its second decade as a publication that focuses broadly on issues and trends in diplomacy’s public dimension.  Congratulations to all.

Adam Garfinkle, “The Erosion of Deep Literacy,”  National Affairs, Number 43, Spring 2020.  Garfinkle, (founding editor of The American Interest), begins with Canadian scholar Harold Innis’s useful observation that “sudden extensions of communication are reflected in cultural disturbances.”  Thoughtful 20th century public diplomacy practitioners learned from Innis in the early days of television.  Garfinkle builds on his thinking to argue that today’s pervasive IT devices have comparable transformational impacts.  They include democratization of users and written language, diffusion of cultures, and the promise of different cognitive capacities.  Another impact, in the thinking of UCLA neuroscientist Maryanne Wolfe, may be the loss of “deep literacy.”  By this she means engagement with an extended piece of writing that enables a dialectical process with its text and meaning.  Such engagement can empower creativity, nurture capacity for abstract thought, strengthen the ability to pose and answer difficult questions, refine our capacity for empathy, and produce a revolution in the brain that has potential payoffs for understanding history and politics.  Garfinkle explores the meaning of Wolfe’s claim in the ideas of thinkers, past and present, and its relevance to today’s populism and political extremism.  Loss of deep literacy can be one explanatory factor, he argues, in approaching a range of theoretical and practical questions confronting leaders, strategists, diplomats, and communication theorists.

Robert M. Gates, “The Overmilitarization of American Foreign Policy: The United States Must Recover the Full Range of Its Power,”  Foreign Affairs, July/August 2020.  The former US Defense Secretary makes an evidence-based case that the United States has become too dependent on military tools as it seriously neglects diplomacy and other nonmilitary instruments of power.  To address a fundamental mismatch between ends and means in US foreign policy, he proposes an array of strategic and structural reforms.

(1) Place a stronger and bureaucratically transformed State Department at the core of the nonmilitary tool kit.

(2) Strengthen economic power (multilateral institutions, foreign aid) as a smart way to court partners, pressure rivals, and compete with China’s Belt and Road Initiative.  The US relies too heavily on economic tools (sanctions, tariffs) just to punish adversaries.

(3) Create “a new top-level organization—akin to the USIA on steroids and located within the State Department but empowered by the president—to enable consistent strategic communication using all available venues.  It would oversee all traditional and electronic messaging, including social media, and all public statements and other communication efforts by other parts of the U.S. government relating to foreign policy.”

(4) Take the offensive in cyber warfare “from time to time” to give authoritarian governments “a taste of their own medicine.”

(5) The structure created by the National Security Act of 1947 has “outlived its usefulness” for the whole of government approaches to foreign policy issues that are now routine.  The NSC is incapable of providing necessary “day-to-day management and operational and budgetary integration and coordination.”  What might do the job, however, is obscure apart from his chimera that a “restructured and strengthened State Department would serve as the hub for managing all the spokes of the government involved in directing nonmilitary resources to address national security problems.”

The article is drawn from Gates’ recent book, Exercise of Power: American Failures, Successes, and a New Path Forward in the Post–Cold War Period  (Knopf, 2020) in which he expands briefly on his view that “The U.S. strategic communications effort is a joke.” Why?  “Multiple entities are involved in this arena – the White House, State, Defense, Treasury, and the CIA, to name just a few.  For the most part, each goes its own way, with its own issues and emphasis.” (pp. 402-403).

Haroro J. Ingram, Persuade or Perish: Addressing Gaps in the U.S. Posture to Confront Propaganda and Disinformation Threats, Program on Extremism Policy Paper, George Washington University, February 2020.  Ingram (George Washington University’s Program on Extremism) has three objectives.  First, he discusses malicious influence activities of state and non-state actors that threaten “not only the stability and security of nations but democracy itself” – and the related problem of deficiencies in the US government’s ability to deal with these threats.  Second, he profiles a century of “inconsistent” US approaches to the role of “persuasive communication” in foreign policy and national security.  He follows with a deep dive into his central organizational focus, the State Department’s Global Engagement Center and its immediate predecessors.  Third, he makes four recommendations: the need to learn from America’s past influence efforts, the benefits of developing an overarching paradigm to understand a “spectrum of threats,” the importance of “overt attributed US government messaging,” and a strategic interagency structure similar in intent to the Reagan Administration’s National Security Decision Directive (NSDD 75).  Ingram’s historical overview is a useful predicate for thinking about current change agendas.  His paper is limited, however, by its predominant attention to threats, organizational solutions, messaging, and influence model practices.  Missing is discussion of opportunities, solutions grounded in transformative policies and actions, and relational model practices.  See also Haroro J. Ingram, “Pandemic Propaganda and the Global Democracy Crisis,”  May 18, 2020, War on the Rocks.

Haroro J. Ingram and Alexander Guittard, “Revamping America’s ‘Soft Power’:  The Case for Centralizing America’s Messages to the World,” July 20, 2020, Foreign Policy Research Institute.  The authors (affiliated with George Washington University’s Program on Extremism) contend that “a central agency for American public messaging is urgently needed” to “recalibrate American influence efforts.”  They build on former Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ recent call for a “top level organization . . . to enable consistent strategic communication” and Ingram’s longer paper, Persuade or Perish, listed above.  Their agenda emphasizes threats by malign external actors, the US government’s bureaucratic deficiencies, a new “independent agency of the State Department,” centrally managed “media buying and dissemination on non-U.S. government-owned or sponsored channels,” and development of “overarching doctrine and training in the tradecraft of persuasive communications.”  Their paper replicates recurring themes and approaches in countless past reports on US diplomacy’s public dimension.

H-Diplo/ISSF Roundtable 11-16 on Diplomacy: Communication and the Origins of the International Order,  H- Diplo, May 18, 2020.  Thomas Maddux (California State University Northridge) introduces this discussion of Robert F. Trager’s Diplomacy: Communication and the Origins of the International Order,  (Cambridge University Press, 2017) with a carefully constructed overview of its central focus and summaries of insightful comments by four reviewers: Todd H. Hall (University of Oxford), Marcus Holmes (The College of William & Mary), Brian Rathbun (University of Southern California), and Anne Sartori (MIT).  Trager (University of California, Los Angeles) responds in closing comments.  Trager’s book uses data from British Foreign Office communications between 1855 and 1914 to examine the role of communication in diplomacy with emphasis on “costless exchanges” (e.g., private discussions between two foreign ministers) and “costly signaling” (e.g., moving troops to a border).  The reviewers, who unanimously praise Trager’s work, offer suggestions for further consideration.

-- Reasons why writing by diplomats may not convey their thinking exactly (Sartori).

-- Constructivist and psychological questions on “the human element of diplomacy” relevant to Trager’s “assumption of rationality” (Hall).

-- Questions about the role of intentions in diplomacy and the subjectivity of potential costs (Holmes).

-- Issues relating to how “irrational emotions” affect diplomatic communication (Rathbun).

Their reviews do not ignore, but treat too lightly such issues as the relevance of 19th century diplomacy’s context, methods, and communications technologies to those of the 21st century.  And, if Trager’s study usefully points to the value of actors signaling intentions through “costless communication” in private, as the reviewers contend, what are the implications for “costless communication” in public?  (Courtesy of Donna Oglesby)

Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo, and Meg Kelly, Donald Trump and His Assault on Truth: The President’s Falsehoods, Misleading Claims, and Flat-Out Lies, (Scribner, 2020).  Before he took over the Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” feature in 2011, Kessler was a well-regarded Post foreign policy reporter.  This adds considerably to the book’s value.  A collaborative effort by the Post’s Fact Checker team, this book can be mined for insights into the mechanics of fact checking and “Pinocchios,” read selectively as a compilation of self-contained chapters (e.g., Trump’s biggest whoppers, Trump on Trump, Trump on immigration, Trump on impeachment, Trump on the coronavirus), or read as an organized description and interpretation of Trump’s disregard for truth.  The book provides clear analytical distinctions between falsehoods, misstatements, and lies, as well as observations on their implications: exploitations of grievance, strategies of foreign leaders, the “illusory truth effect,” and other consequences.  Kessler’s chapter on Trump’s foreign policy treats his falsehoods, disturbing ignorance on international issues, and false narratives.  He concludes with thoughts on Trump’s methods, his impact on the media, choices of voters and Democratic leaders, and America’s future after the “most mendacious president in American history.”

Sarah Kreps, Social Media and International Relations, (Cambridge University Press, 2020).  In this brief, cogent, and well-written book, Kreps (Cornell University) assumes that social media can now be treated as an actor in international relations.  She then discusses questions that follow from this assumption.  What social media features attract foreign interference?  Are democracies more susceptible to information warfare than authoritarian states?  How can information operations and the Internet be used as instruments of war?  How do states assert digital sovereignty?  What new technologies, such as AI, threaten democratic vulnerabilities, and how can democracies respond?  Diplomacy scholars and practitioners will find particularly interesting her thinking on public opinion, traditional notions of the marketplace of ideas, social media as instruments of manipulation and weaponized information, how emerging AI tools lower barriers to entry in propaganda campaigns, and the contrasting values of AI and low technology tools in responding to them.  Kreps’ central argument is that social media are undermining longtime advantages of democracies in international relations such as public accountability and effectiveness in policy formulation, governance, and war.  Her book seeks to explain these phenomena and discuss responses to them.  (Courtesy of Donna Oglesby)

Christian Lesquene, “Ministries of Foreign Affairs: A Crucial Institution Revisited,” The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, Volume 15, Issue 1-2, March 2020.  In his introduction to this special HJD issue, Lesquene (SciencesPo) makes compelling arguments for why there are so few comparative studies of Ministries of Foreign Affairs (MFAs).  Scholars prefer to study exciting new institutions.  MFAs have lost their monopoly in whole of government diplomacy.  Their low transparency creates barriers to scholarly study. The role of MFAs is difficult to discern in many nondemocratic states.  Most practitioner accounts are self-referential and lack analytical distance.  He then explores reasons why it is precisely because MFAs have lost their monopoly that new research is needed.  Scholars must better understand diplomats in today’s MFAs and how they are recruited.  MFAs are at the center of new practices and communication methods in diplomacy.  And research on MFAs can usefully contribute to scholarship that theorizes diplomacy and IR through the mindsets of practitioners.  Lesquene’s clear and well-organized overview (accessible in its entirety online) provides a detailed agenda for future research, a bibliography, and cues to the claims and contributions of 11 articles in HJD’s special issue.

Laura Mills, “Empire, Emotion, Exchange: (Dis)orienting Encounters Of/With Post 9-11 US Cultural Diplomacy,”  Cultural Studies, published online June 22, 2020.  In this probing critique of US cultural diplomacy and its Youth Exchange and Study Program (YES), Mills (University of St. Andrews, UK) makes four claims.  First, post 9/11 cultural diplomacy is disorienting because cosmopolitanism and affective elements in YES recruitment materials demonstrate how empire, and its elements of power and control, are revealed in what is seemingly benign and unquestionable.  Second, the entanglement of emotion, empire, and exchange can “(dis)orient” participants through elements in YES orientation sessions and program handbooks.  Third, the seductive simplicity of an imperialist America frame problematically obscures government and performance complexities, tensions, and contradictions within the YES programs.  Fourth, challenging characteristics of empire and these disorientations opens the way to a creative re-imagining and reorientation of post 9/11 US cultural diplomacy.  Her article is grounded in the views of Michel Foucault and other scholars on how power relations are embedded in institutions and human interaction, Sara Ahmed and others on affect, and the literature of Franz Fanon and a host of writers on cosmopolitanism and colonialism.  Throughout, Mills cites numerous examples of language and practices in YES programs and program materials.  Cultural diplomacy practitioners will find her writing and theoretical logic demanding.  But it will reward as it summons a rethinking of their programs and methods.  Her article previews her forthcoming book, Post-9/11 US Cultural Diplomacy: The Impossibility of Cosmopolitanism (Routledge).

Amy Mitchell, Mark Jurkowitz, J. Baxter Oliphant, and Elisa Shearer, “Americans Who Mainly Get Their News on Social Media Are Less Engaged, Less Knowledgeable,”  Pew Research Center, July 30, 2020.  Pew’s researchers find that the one-in-five Americans “who rely on social media for news are less likely to get the facts right about the coronavirus and politics and more likely to hear some unproven claims.”  US adults who turn to social media for news tend to be under 30, have lower levels of education, express less concern about made-up news, and are less likely to be white.  See also Margaret Sullivan, “This Was The Week America Lost the War on Misinformation,”  July 30, 2020, The Washington Post.

“Pandemic Diplomacy: Living Up To Our Ideals,” Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2020.  Three articles in the Journal’s summer edition shine a useful spotlight on the pandemic, diplomacy’s public dimension, and whole of government diplomacy.

-- Jimmy Kolker, “COVID-19 and Global Health Governance,”  34-37.  Ambassador (ret.) Kolker lived whole of government diplomacy when, after a 30-year Foreign Service career, he led UNICEF’s HIV/AIDs section (2007-2011) and served as assistant secretary for global affairs in the US Department of Health and Human Services (2014-2017).  He urges the US to engage fully with the global community on pandemic and other health issues – and offers six practical recommendations directed at WHO, the UN Secretary General, the National Security Council, and the Department of State.

-- Donald M. Bishop, “Disinformation Challenges in a Pandemic,”  38-41.  Retired FSO Bishop (now the Bren Chair of Strategic Communications at Marine Corps University) draws on three decades of public diplomacy experience in his assessment of the pandemic crisis, Chinese and Russian disinformation, and “hidden disinformation.”  He argues that “PD needs to be recharged, and it must join whole-of-government policy deliberations at the highest level.”

-- Jian (Jay) Wang, “Rethinking Public Diplomacy for a Post-Pandemic World,”  42-44.  The director of USC’s Center on Public Diplomacy discusses the pandemic’s impact in the context of pre-existing global trends and offers suggestions for rethinking PD: take a network view, integrate the digital and the physical, expand city diplomacy, and invest in PD reskilling and upskilling.

David Shimer, Rigged: America, Russia, and One Hundred Years of Covert Electoral Interference,  (Alfred A. Knopf, 2020).  Shimer’s (Oxford University) aims in this book are (1) to examine a century of covert electoral interference by Russia and the United States, and (2) to analyze Putin’s 2016 interference in the US election as the evolution of past practice.  He defines covert electoral interference as “a concealed foreign effort to influence a democratic vote of succession” that takes two forms – changing ballots and changing minds.  His book makes four arguments.  First, it discusses the contours of interference by Moscow and Washington from the end of World War I to the present.  Second, it explores similarities and differences.  Both countries interfered to support or defeat candidates to promote individual change.  But Russia interferes to weaken democracies; the US has interfered to strengthen democracies.  Third, Russia’s 2016 interference was a direct continuation of past patterns of practice.  Fourth, digital technologies have irrevocably empowered hostile actors.  Shimer’s well written and deeply research book is remarkable in several ways.  Its on the record interviews with senior Obama and Trump national security officials are illuminating.  As is his deep dive into President Obama’s response to Putin’s 2016 strategy and its consequences.  He supports his arguments with new empirical material in case studies of KGB interference in the US and Europe and America’s overt democracy promotion activities at the end and after the Cold War.  And in case studies of US covert interference in Italy and Cuba (1947-1948), Iran and Guatemala (1950s), Japan (1950s-1960s), Guyana (1963), Chile (1964), and Serbia (2000).  Americans who may think covert interference is just a Russian playbook will find well researched evidence to the contrary in Shimer’s excellent, fact-based book.

Recent Blogs and Other Items of Interest

Michael Allen and David E. Lowe, “The Congress for Cultural Freedom and the Power of Ideas,”  June 28, 2020, The American Interest.

Mike Anderson, “Five PD Favorites,”  July 27, 2020; “Five PD Favorites,”  July 21, 2020;  “Five PD Favorites,”  June 9, 2020, Public Diplomacy Council.

Matt Armstrong, “The William Benton Scholarship,”  July 21, 2020,

Donald Bishop, “We Do It Ourselves In Our Own Capital,”  June 18, 2020, Public Diplomacy Council.

Miriam Berger, “The Pandemic Has Damaged the Appeal of Studying in the United States for Some International Students,”  July 23, 2020, The Washington Post.

William J. Burns, “‘Never More Adrift’: William J. Burns on Repairing the Damage Trump Has Done,”  June 10, 2020, World Politics Review“Polarized Politics Has Infected American Diplomacy Foreigners aren’t laughing at us. They pity and discount us.”  June 8, 2020, The Atlantic.

“Diplomacy in Crisis: The Trump Administration’s Decimation of the State Department,”  July 28, 2020, Democratic Staff Report, US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

“Fulbright Grantee Letter of Appeal to the Fulbright Program: Request to Revised the US Fulbright 2019-2020 Policy and Response to Covid-19 Pandemic,”  May 5, 2020,

Alina Dolea and Efe Sevin, “Integrating Scholarship Fields for PD: ICA/ISA Joint Panel,”  July 7, 2020, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

Robbie Gramer, “Pompeo’s Attack on ‘1619 Project’ Draws Fire From His Own Diplomats,”  July 17, 2020, Foreign Policy; Nahal Toosi, “Pompeo Rolls Out A Selective Vision of Human Rights,”   July 16, 2020, Politico; Michael R. Pompeo, “American Diplomacy Must Again Ground Itself in the Nation’s Founding Principles,”  July 16, 2020, The Washington Post.   

Gavin Grindon, “This Exhibition Was Brought to You by Guns and Big Oil,”  May 26, 2020, The New York Times.

“How Objectivity in Journalism Became a Matter of Opinion,”  July 16, 2020, The Economist.

Mark Jacobs, “Exceptionalism Redux,”  n.d., Evergreen.

Lara Jakes and Edward Wong, “U.S. Diplomats Struggle to Defend Democracy Abroad Amid Crises at Home,”  June 8, 2020, The New York Times.

Hannah Knowles, “Top Democrats Launch Investigation Into the Late Night Firing of the State Department Inspector General,”  May 16, 2020, The Washington Post.

“A Letter on Justice and Open Debate,”  July 7, 2020, Harper’s Magazine; Jennifer Schuessler and Elizabeth A. Harris, “Artists and Writers Warn of an ‘Intolerant Climate.’ Reaction is Swift.”  July 7, 2020, The New York Times.

Michael Luo, “How Can the Press Best Serve a Democratic Society,”  July 11, 2020, The New Yorker.

Colum Lynch, “It’s Not Just Trump. The World Worries America is Broken,”  June 18, 2020, Foreign Policy.

Rachel Gandin Mark, “Film Diplomacy in the Time of COVID-19,”  May 27, 2020, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

Michael McCarry, “Looking at Foreign Students Through the Prism of National Interest,”  July 10, 2020; “Fulbright, China, and U.S. Presidents,”  July 20, 2020, Public Diplomacy Council.

Peter McPherson, “APLU Statement on New ICE Policies on International Students,” July 6, 2020, Association of Public & Land Grant Universities.

Matin Modarressi, “Stamps and Spies: The CIA’s Involvement In Postage Design,” July 21, 2020, War on The Rocks.

Joseph S. Nye, Jr., “Can We Recover Our Soft Power?”  June 9, 2020, The Hill.

Michael Peak, “Where Now for International Higher Education,”  May 2020, British Council.

Elizabeth Redden, “Trump Targets Fulbright in China, Hong Kong,”  July 16, 2020, Inside Higher Ed.

Dalibor Rohac, “Public Diplomacy and the Risk of Overmoralizing,”  June 23, 2020, TheBulwark.

Daniel B. Shapiro and Daniel Rakov, “Will Zoomplomacy Last?”  May 18, 2020, Foreign Policy.

Michael D. Shear and Maggie Haberman, “Trump Removes State Dept. Inspector General,”  May 16, 2020, The New York Times.

Tara Sonenshine, “American Prestige Hits Rock Bottom,”  June 26, 2020, The Hill; “Americans Should Fight Propaganda Like We Used To,”  June 1, 2020, DefenseOne.

Mark C. Storella, “An Argument for US Health Diplomacy,”  June 29, 2020, The Hill.

Nahal Toosi, “Adversaries Delight in America’s Convulsions, While U.S. Diplomats Despair,”  June 2, 2020, Politico; Conor Finnegan, “US Diplomats Struggle to Navigate Racial Protests, Trump’s Messages, Charges of Hypocrisy,”  June 2, 2020, ABC News.

Dick Virden, “To Restore Our National Reputation, We Must Return to Our Core Values,”  May 27, 2020, MinnPost.

Ed Vulliamy, “‘Rockers and Spies’ – How the CiA Used Culture to Shred the Iron Curtain,”  May 3, 2020, The Guardian.

Vivian S. Walker, “Talking to Strangers: Public Diplomacy At a Distance,”  May 11, 2020, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

Matthew Wallin, “The Soft Power of American Protest,”  June 29, 2020, American Security Project.

“What the US Coronavirus Response Says About American Exceptionalism,”  July 8, 2020, PBS Newhour.

Selected Items (in chronological order): Trump / Voice of America / USAGM

Kathleen Parker, “Knowing Steve Bannon Shouldn’t Stop a Qualified Official from leading the VOA,”  May 19, 2020, The Washington Post.

Matt Armstrong, “The Significance of Trump’s Hostility Toward VOA,” [7-minute video]

Alan Heil, “Leadership Changes at VOA and the BBC, the Two Largest Western International Multimedia Networks,”  June 9, 2020.

The Editorial Board, “New Boss May Test Voice of America’s Credibility,”  June 16, 2020, The New York Times.

Jon Allsop, “Trump, Michael Pack, and the Complicated Role of Voice of America,”  June 17, 2020, Columbia Journalism Review.

Kim Andrew Elliott, “Repoliticizing Voice of America,”  June 17, 2020, , “VOA: Voice of Ambiguity,”  July 7, 2020, The Hill.

Brian Schwartz, “Sen. Bob Menendez Calls for State Department Inspector General to Investigate Federal Media CEO Michael Pack,” June 23, 2020; “Federal Media Chief Michael Pack Installs Trump Loyalists to Leadership Posts, Memo Says,”  June 17, 2020, CNBC.

“RSF [Reporters Without Borders] Alarmed by Abrupt Dismissals of US News Agency Heads by Trump-appointed CEO,”  June 18, 2020, RSF.

Martha Bayles and Jeffrey Gedmin, “It’s Not Broke! And You’re Not Fixing It!”  June 18, 2020, The American Interest.

Jeffrey Gedmin, “The ‘Wednesday Night Massacre’ in U.S. International Media,”  June 19, 2020, TheBulwark.

Editorial Board, “Voice of America and Other U.S. Government Media Have Always Been Trustworthy. But Here Comes Trump,”  June 19, 2020, The Washington Post.

Alan Heil, “An Unprecedented Shakeup at U.S. International Broadcasting,” June 20, 2020; Robert Chatten, “An Open Letter to Amanda Bennett, former VOA Director,”  June 20, 2020, Public Diplomacy Council.

“National Press Club and NPC Journalism Institute Statement on U.S. Agency for Global Media,”  June 20, 2020.

Josh Lipsky and Daniel Fried, “US Government Broadcasters Have Long Advanced the Cause of Freedom. Now They’re Under Threat,” June 23, 2020, Atlantic Council.

David Folkenflik, “Citing a Breached ‘Firewall,’ Media Leaders Sue U.S. Official Over Firings,”  June 24, 2020, NPR.

Byron York, “The New Voice of America Breaks His Silence,”  June 25, 2020, Washington Examiner.

William Powell, “Lawsuit Highlights Potential Threats To Independence at U.S. International Broadcasters,” June 26, 2020, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

“Radio Free Trump: Decapitating America’s State-funded Media,” June 27, 2020, The Economist.

Senators’ Letter to Michael Pack,  July 1, 2020.

Susan Crabtree, “Michael Pack Stands His Ground Amid D.C. Firestorm,”  July 2, 2020, “As Critics Rage, Pack Aims to Pierce China’s Info Firewall,”  June 26, 2020, RealClear Politics.

James Jay Carafano, “Michael Pack Will Need to Tackle America’s Great-Power Problem,”  July 6, 2020, The National Interest.

 “U.S. Judge Rules in Favor of CEO of US Agency for Global Media,”  July 7, 2020, VOA News.

Paul Farhi, “Voice of America Faces Loss of International Journalists as New Overseer Lets Visas Expire,”  July 9, 2020, The Washington Post.

David Folkenflik, “U.S. Broadcasting Agency Will Not Extend Visas For Its Foreign Journalists,”  July 9, 2020, NPR.

“USAGM Reviewing Foreign Journalists Visas,”  July 10, 2020, VOA News.

Editorial Board, “Failing To Renew VOA Foreign Staffers’ Visas Would Devastate One of Its Core Functions,”  July 10, 2020, The Washington Post.

Michael Pack, “Fixing Uncle Sam’s Global Broadcasting Arm Is More Important Than Ever,”  July 8, 2020, New York Post.

Martha Bayles, “An Abuse of Power,”  July 13, 2020, The American Interest.

Alan Heil, “Leading U.S. Members of Congress and Media Organizations Support VOA Foreign Journalists Whose Visa Renewals May Be At Risk,”  July 13, 2020, Public Diplomacy Council.

 Ken Bredemeier, “US Court Blocks Government Media Chief from Replacing Technology Fund Board,” July 21, 2020, VOA News.

Spencer S. Hsu, “Appeals Court Blocks Trump Administration Takeover of Organization Fighting Digital Censorship and Surveillance,”  July 21, 2020, The Washington Post.

Susan Crabtree, “Trump Stands By New Broadcasting Chief With Veto Threat,”  July 22, 2020, RealClearPolitics.

“USAGM Announces Investigation Into ‘Long-term Security Failures,’” July 24, 2020, VOA News.

Jessica Jerreat, “Temporary Visa Reprieve for VOA Thai Journalist,”  July 24, 2020, VOA News.

“CEO Pack Launches Investigation Into Pro-Biden VOA Content, U.S. Election Interference,” July 30, 2020, USAGM Press Release.

Helle Dale, “‘Severe Security Failures’ In This Federal Agency Need To Be Investigated,” July 30, 2020, The Daily Signal.

Kim Andrew Elliott, “The Voice of America’s Visa Conundrum,”  July 30, 2020, The Hill.

Daniel Lippman, “Deleted Biden Video Sets Off A Crisis at Voice of America,”  July 30, 2020, Politico.

Spencer S. Hsu, “Trump Administration Is Crippling International Freedom Effort By Withholding Funds, Officials Say,”  July 31, 2020, The Washington Post.

Gem From The Past 

Edward W. Barrett, Truth is Our Weapon, (New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1953).  As former Defense Secretary Robert Gates and others turn to the magical idea that a “restructured and strengthened State Department” could integrate, coordinate, and direct nonmilitary activities, including strategic communication, it is useful to dust off one of the better books that deals with the subject.  Barrett, a Newsweek journalist who had served in OWI, returned to government from 1950-52 as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs.  He was tasked to serve simultaneously as director of President Truman’s newly created National Psychological Strategy Board.  Truman and the NSC gave Barrett and the State Department responsibility for “coordination of policies and plans for the national foreign information program and for overt psychological warfare with the Department of Defense, with other appropriate departments and agencies of the U.S. Government, and with related planning under the [CIA].”  After eight months of bitter interagency quarreling, Truman gave up on coordination by the State Department.  We occasionally did “some good,” Barrett recalled, but overall it was an impossible task.  For the next 70 years occasional attempts to adopt a State Department coordination model met a similar fate.  Presidents and reformers, who periodically considered interagency coordination, typically looked to White House and NSC models.

Among Barrett’s lessons learned: (1) Presidents should have as permanent members of their top staff “a special assistant with the functions of ‘persuader-in-chief.’”  (2) These presidential aides should “function as coordinator-in-chief of government-wide psychological planning.”  (3) All such coordinators should regularly attend Cabinet and NSC meetings and have the full confidence of the president.  (4) Avoid “too much Washington masterminding of complex tactical problems that could be solved by first-rate men in the field.” (5) Information specialists should participate in the top policy councils of the State Department.  (6) Major government reorganizations invariably lead to “near stagnation of effort while countless bureaucratic characters struggle for months with mundane problems of office space, organization charts, liaison arrangements, budgets, and controls.”

An archive of Diplomacy's  Public Dimension: Books, Articles, Websites  (2002-present) is maintained at George Washington University's Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication.  Current issues are also posted by the University of Southern California's Center on Public Diplomacy,  the Public Diplomacy Council,  and

The Walter Roberts Endowment (WRE) and the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication (IPDGC) is pleased to announce that our $15,000 internship grant has been successfully awarded to five GW students - a sum of $3,000 per student - to support them in their Public Diplomacy internships over summer 2020.

Kevin Lynch and Victoria Makanjuola will be working with IPDGC on two projects: research to compile an annotated bibliography to be used by Public Diplomacy students and faculty; and a series of interviews for the Public Diplomacy Examined (PDx) podcast, recordings with PD academic experts and practitioners.

Other recipients of the grants are Halea Kerr-Layton who will be working on events at Global Ties US; Amy Liu who will be at the Canadian Embassy working on bilateral diplomacy through its media relations office; and Altynai Baibachaeva who will be at Meridian International Center doing work with the Global Connect division, bringing professionals around the globe to drive solutions for global challenges.

WRE and IPDGC wish our GW students well as they embark on their PD experiences this summer.

Intended for teachers of public diplomacy and related courses, here is an update on resources that may be of general interest.  Suggestions for future updates are welcome.

William J. Burns, “A Make-or-Break Test for American Diplomacy,” April 6, 2020; “The Damage at the State Department Is Worse Than You Can Imagine, But It’s Also More Reparable,”  March 12, 2020, The Atlantic.  Retired US diplomat and former Deputy Secretary of State Burns makes two key claims in these articles.  In April, he argued the post-pandemic world will “turbocharge trendlines” that were already complicating America’s role in the world and pose the greatest test for US statecraft since the end of the Cold War.  He examines potential traps in looking ahead and warns that America cannot expect to “reboot a normal that has long been corrupted.”  In March, Burns took aim at a “sluggish, passive-aggressive, risk averse” State Department, which faces deeply rooted challenges in addition to the demolition brought about by “the venality and vindictiveness” of Donald Trump.  The State Department in a post-Trump presidency will need to rebuild quickly and differently.  Burns’ strategy is centered on what State can do for itself apart from the White House and Congress (“reshaping antediluvian approaches to leadership, management, recruitment, and performance”), pushing accountability downward in Washington and outward to ambassadors, rediscovering “the honor and purpose of career professionals” exemplified in the Trump impeachment hearings, rebalancing national security policies and budgets, and reversing the post 9/11 militarization of foreign policy 

“James Carville on Why Foundation CEOs Need to Fund a ‘Wartime Communications’ Force,”  The Chronicle of Philanthropy, March 26, 2020.  Carville (political consultant, Louisiana State University) calls on risk-takers and “our most talented communications minds” in the foundation community – a “Dream Team made up of top leaders from Hollywood, technology, advertising, public relations, polling, and behavioral psychology” – to stand up a wartime strategy to convey messages about what to do and what not to do in the COVID-19 pandemic.  Carville’s model is the World War I era Committee on Public Information led by George Creel.  Although the Creel Committee was “guilty of excesses,” (on this he is informed by LSU journalism professor John Maxwell Hamilton), it was also highly successful in promoting war bonds, food conservation, and military enlistment.  It’s a time for action, Carville writes energetically, in his appeal to ten of America’s largest foundations across the political spectrum.  (Courtesy of Donna Oglesby)

Andrea J. Dew, Marc A. Genest, and S. C. M. Paine, eds., From Quills to Tweets: How America Communicates About War and Revolution,  (Georgetown University Press, 2020).  The editors (all associated with the US Naval War College) have compiled a welcome collection of case studies on how information, political narratives, media, and communication technologies have shaped the way Americans have communicated in wartime.  Essays by 17 contributors divide into five chronological sections arranged to reflect episodes of armed conflict, changes in technologies, and political context.  Many are by scholars ranging from Marc Genest’s chapter on newspapers and Committees of Correspondence during the American Revolution to Steven Casey’s (London School of Economics) chapter on the Korean War to Andrea Dew’s chapter on communication in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Two are by former public diplomacy practitioners.  Martin Manning’s chapter looks at the role of the press and the telegraph in the Civil War, and Judith Baroody examines communication strategies in the Persian Gulf War.  Without taking away from the wealth of useful analysis and historical evidence the authors provide from US history, the collection would have been strengthened by at least one chapter on relevant ways in which Europeans and Native Americans communicated in wartime during the century and a half that preceded the American Revolution.  

Kingsley Edney, Stanley Rosen, and Ying Zhu, eds., Soft Power With Chinese Characteristics: China’s Campaign for Hearts and Minds,  (Routledge, 2020).  In this timely volume, Edney (University of Leeds), Rosen (University of Southern California), and Zhu (City University of New York) compile essays by scholars who examine how China has attempted to use soft power strategies since Xi Jinping came to power in 2012.  Part 1 contains chapters on the soft power debate in China, the ironies of soft power projection in the age of Donald Trump and Xi Jinping, and China’s use of diasporic media, cultural diplomacy, Sino-Hollywood negotiation, branding, and Confucius Institutes.  Chapters in Part 2 include regional case studies of China’s soft power strategies in Europe, the Americas, Africa, Japan and South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong.  A closing chapter looks at how East Asians view a rising China.  The volume includes a foreword by Joseph Nye who contends that “China now represents the most important test case for the practice of soft power.”  He shares the authors’ view on the need for a reappraisal of the soft power framework adopted in China’s official doctrine more than a decade ago.  See also Martha Bayles, “Hard Truths About China’s ‘Soft Power,’” The American Interest, March 30, 2020. 

Mark Hannah, “Stop Declaring War on a Virus,”  War on the Rocks, April 17, 2020.  Hannah (Eurasia Group Foundation) examines the negative implications of using war rhetoric to frame the US government’s response to the pandemic coronavirus.  Borrowing from British philosopher John Austin’s thinking on speech acts as “performative utterance,” Hannah argues declaring war on a virus goes beyond descriptive or interpretive framing to bring about three new realities: “a self-injuring pivot from international cooperation toward belligerent nationalism; short-term economic interventions that are not necessarily likely to transform into lasting reforms; and an inflation of the concept of war which potentially undermines the rule of law.”  In so doing, it distorts the nature of the threat, makes political abuse of power more likely, enables the firing of government health officials insufficiently supportive of presidential wishes and priorities, and squanders international goodwill.  Hannah also makes use of Rosa Brook’s thinking on “Fighting Words” and arguments on “the many ways in which the distinction between wartime and peacetime is nontrivial” in her book, How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything.

Daniel Immerwahr, How To Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States, (Picador, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2019).  Immerwahr (Northwestern University) takes the reader on an absorbing and illuminating ride through the history of American expansion – from 13 colonies on the Atlantic seaboard to a colonial empire in the American west and beyond, to today’s “pointillist empire” of territories, tiny islands, and some 800 military bases worldwide.  It is a work of serious scholarship that also seeks to entertain.  Immerwahr tells three stories.  The subordination and displacement of Native Americans.  Colonization beyond the continent in the 19th and early 20th centuries.  And the replacement of colonization with globalization.  His intent is not to weigh forms of oppression or use empire as a pejorative.  Rather, he seeks to show how territorial expansion matters, positively and negatively, in understanding United States’ history as the history of an empire.  It is a narrative of hard power projection combined with a gold mine of anecdotes and personalities that give life to hidden influences of soft power through language, inventions, science, education, music, sports, popular culture, and the arts.    

Ivan Krastev and Stephen Holmes, The Light That Failed: Why the West is Losing the Fight for Democracy,  (Pegasus Books, 2020).  Krastev (Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna) and Holmes (New York University) – two scholars who embraced the “illusion’ that the end of the Cold War signaled “an Age of Liberalism and Democracy” – explore a question attributed to Barack Obama: “What if we were wrong?”  They look first at the appeal of the illusion.  Then they examine the cascade of illiberalism, populist xenophobia, insurgent movements on right and left, and “resentment at democracies canonical status” in Europe, Russia, and the United States.  Their aim is not a comprehensive account of the anti-liberal revolt.  It is to examine one under-appreciated aspect: widespread grievance over “the way (imposed) no-alternative Soviet Communism, after 1989, was replaced by (invited) no-alternative Western liberalism.”  Their thought-provoking book is an assessment of this grievance and a strong critique of the way democracy was promoted as “inescapable orthodoxy.”  It examines the perception held by many after the economic crisis of 2008 that western elites did not know what they were doing – and growing resentment against the “palpably sincere reform-by-imitation” approach (“copycat Westernization”) of post-Cold War democratization. 

Jan Melissen, “Diplomacy’s First Challenge: Communicating Assistance to Nationals Abroad,”  Policy Forum Article, Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies, February 2020.  Melissen (Leiden University) examines the growing importance of consular diplomacy in the eyes of citizens and parliamentarians and the need for foreign ministries to develop a better understanding of increasingly intertwined “consular” and “diplomatic” spheres. They must break, he argues, from a tradition that compartmentalizes consular work and views it as “second rate.”  His thinking is grounded in assumptions that there is “enormous scope for improvement” in government-society relations and that foreign ministries face greater challenges in communicating with their citizens abroad than in delivering services to them.  Middle power countries “with a decidedly global outlook,” he contends, understand and articulate this view especially well.  The article develops three claims.  First, governments too often mistakenly treat consular work as marketing to product-oriented end-users than providing services to citizens.  Second, foreign ministries struggling with digital technologies must adopt a coordinated multi-channel communications approach.  Third, they must show greater appreciation for how domestic and foreign dimensions of consular diplomacy are linked to so-called “big issues” in foreign and security policies.

Martha C. Nussbaum, The Cosmopolitan Tradition: A Noble But Flawed Ideal,  (Harvard University Press, 2019).  Diplomats occupy a central place in the cosmopolitan tradition.  That said, scholars wrestle with an abundance of self / other questions.  Is diplomacy necessarily group and governance-based or present anytime someone claims to represent or mediate any aspect of society?  What are the ethical duties of diplomats to the national interest and universal human rights?  Under what conditions is public diplomacy best served by monologue or dialogue?  In her meditation on the relative claims of nations and the world, Martha Nussbaum (University of Chicago) helps us understand normative and practical issues in diplomacy.  Chapters on Cicero, Hugo Grotius, and Adam Smith illuminate historical approaches to self / other tensions.  Subsequent chapters address questions about pluralism and globalism born of today’s deep interconnectedness (supply chains, disease, climate, migration, knowledge, disinformation).  Nussbaum’s closely argued “Capabilities Approach” forbids a “me-first tub-thumping nationalism.”  She defends an international politics that is truly cosmopolitan and grounded in moral duties to others and the worth and dignity of all.  But she also recognizes the practical and normative importance of the nation.  Normatively, she argues, the nation “is the largest unit that is an effective vehicle of human autonomy, and accountability to people’s voices.”  Practically, nations have great power as places where “both duties of justice and duties of material aid are made real.”  Her book prompts serious reflection on “how we ought to think about the relative claims of the nation and the world.”

Charles Peterson, “Serfs of Academe,” The New York Review of Books, March 12, 2020.  Peterson, a Harvard Ph.D. candidate in American Studies heading for a post-doc at Cornell, examines professional, economic, and public policy consequences of the explosion of adjuncts in America’s colleges and universities.  His review essay of 11 books summarizes data showing the extraordinary rise in contingent faculty, a corresponding decline in tenured faculty, the rise in numbers and salaries of university administrators, the policy plans of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and challenges in organizing instructors in higher education.  Books reviewed include: Joe Berry, Reclaiming the Ivory Tower: Organizing Adjuncts to Change Higher Education,  (2005); Herb Childress, The Adjunct Underclass: How America’s Colleges Betrayed  Their Faculty, Their Students, and Their Mission  (2019); Kim Tolley, ed., Professors in the Gig Economy: Unionizing Adjunct Faculty in America  (2018); and Suzanne Mettler, Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream  (2014).

Sarah Repucci, “A Leaderless Struggle for Democracy: Freedom in the World 2020,” Freedom House. Last year was the 14th consecutive year of decline in political rights and civil liberties, Freedom House analyst Repucci states in the organization’s latest annual report on trends in global freedom.  Leading indicators are India’s turn to Hindu nationalism, China’s violations of basic freedoms of Uighurs and Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, and an “unsteady beacon of freedom in the United States.”  Her detailed report discusses countries where leaders are using extreme policies in assaults on minorities and pluralism.  Notable instances include Israel, Spain, Austria, and Hungary.  The Trump administration’s inconsistent commitment to democracy and human rights is reflected in its critique of adversaries (Venezuela, Iran) and the pass given to leaders in other countries (Russia, North Korea, Saudi Arabia).  Her report includes recommendations for supporting emerging democracies.  See also Jen Patja Howell, “The Lawfare Podcast: Freedom House on ‘Freedom in the World.’”, March 24, 2020.

Thomas Rid, Active Measures: The Secret History of Disinformation and Political Warfare,  (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020).  Thomas Rid (Johns Hopkins University) defines active measures as the methodical output of intelligence services that contains an element of disinformation and is intended to weaken an adversary.  His book discusses case studies of active measures divided into four historical waves: (1) the Soviet Union’s “Operation Trust” led by the Cheka’s Felix Dzerzhinsky in the 1920s and 30s; (2) Soviet and East German disinformation and the CIA’s “political warfare” in the early Cold War; (3) expansion and refinement of Soviet active measures in the late 1970s and 80s; and (4) digital age disinformation beginning in the 2010s.  Rid makes three main arguments.  First, at scale disinformation campaigns are attacks against political systems that rely on custodians of factual authority.  Second, moral and operational equivalence between East and West in using covert active measures occurred only in the decade after World War II.  Third, digital technologies have fundamentally changed disinformation.  Rid devotes most of his attention to Russian disinformation campaigns, especially its digital operations.  He gives far less attention to the CIA’s “cultural freedom” and “political warfare” activities.  USIA’s Senior Policy Officer on Soviet Active Measures Herb Romerstein makes a cameo appearance.  Rid warns that weakened democracies are less resistant to active measures and more likely to deploy them.  “It is impossible,” he argues, “to excel at disinformation and democracy at the same time.”  See also David Ignatius, “The Russians Manipulated Our Elections. We Helped,” April 24, 2020, The Washington Post.  And Rid’s Lawfare podcasts, Part 1 and Part 2

Elizabeth Shackelford, The Dissent Channel: American Diplomacy in a Dishonest Age, (Public Affairs, 2020).  Shackleford, a former career Foreign Service Officer, gives her account of the US failure to speak out against widespread violence and government atrocities in South Sudan.  Her book combines a critique of President Trump’s foreign policy, her story of US Embassy Juba’s efforts to evacuate US citizens and conduct operations in a country in crisis, and an assessment of the State Department’s internal dissent channel.  She used the dissent channel to protest Washington’s “failure to take a stand for the values of human rights and justice, when doing so could make a difference.”  Her bleak conclusion, as quoted in Robbie Gramer’s FP review, is the dissent channel “means something, perhaps.  It’s a message of sorts. One could generously describe it as a type of departmental suggestion box, though it would be more accurate to picture it as a shredder.”

Gregory M. Tomlin, “The Joint Force Needs a Global Engagement Cycle,”  Joint Forces Quarterly, 97, 2nd Quarter, 2020.  Tomlin (Commander, 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, formerly with Joint Staff J2, and author of Murrow’s Cold War) makes two central arguments.  First, he proposes adding the concept of non-lethal engagement, using information-related capabilities, to the Defense Department’s current definition of “engagement” in joint doctrine, which focuses on combat operations.  His expanded definition “would clarify how military information operations could influence individuals and audiences not associated with an adversary.”  Second, he calls for a new six-phase Global Engagement Cycle (GEC) that would connect a commander’s nonlethal engagement guidance and intent with the use of information-related capabilities and functions to achieve short and long-term objectives in the information domain.  Tomlin supports his conceptual ideas with a range of examples and recommendations relevant to the activities of combatant and functional commands, countering cyber-attacks and weaponized uses of social media by adversaries, and implications for planning and operations.

Geoffrey Wiseman, “Diplomacy,” in Dirk Berg-Schlosser, Bertrand Badie, and Leonardo A. Morlino, eds., The Sage Handbook of Political Science, Vol. 3, Chapter 71, 1193-1213, (Sage, 2020).  In this deeply informed chapter, Wiseman (Australian National University) makes five inter-related claims.  First, diplomacy’s ideas and practices have a multi-millennial history.  Second, this history is “characterized by perpetual and productive tension between continuity and change,” and an under-estimated capacity for adaptation.  Third, traditional state-based diplomacy is growing in importance.  Fourth, diplomacy, now more “complex” in theory and practice, exhibits bilateral, multilateral, polylateral, and omnilateral dimensions.  Fifth, “Diplomatic Studies” is now a “rich and expanding” sub-field in international relations and the broader global discipline of political science.  Wiseman’s essay is valuable for its clarity, global perspective, insights on theory and practice, and the quality and scope of its literature review.  Scholars and practitioners will find plenty to ponder.  For teachers and students, it is a concise and comprehensive overview of key historical and current issues in the study and practice of diplomacy.

Recent Blogs and Other Items of Interest

Nick Ashton-Hart, “Online Meetings Are Transforming International Relations,”  April 13, 2020, Council on Foreign Relations.

Ilan Berman, “Trump Puts U.S. Public Diplomacy on Notice,”  April 17, 2020, The National Interest.

Corneliu Bjola and Ilan Manor, “Digital Diplomacy in the Time of the Coronavirus Pandemic,”  March 31, 2020, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

Geoff Brumfiel, “As the War on Terror Winds Down, the Pentagon Cuts Social Science,”  March 17, 2020, NPR.

“Nicholas Burns: Why Does Good Diplomacy Matter?”  March 23, 2020, Podcast Transcript, Harvard Magazine.

Zselyke Csaky, “Dropping the Democratic Façade,” Nations in Transit 2020, Freedom House.  

“China v. America: Expelling Journalists Is No Way To Fight A Pandemic,”  March 21, 2020, The Economist.

Chris Coons, “America’s Diplomats Deserve Our Respect,”  March 16, 2020, The Hill.

Melissa Cooper, “‘Till Death Do Us Part’ – Relationships for Women in the Foreign Service,”  March 10, 2020, Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training.

Timothy Egan, “The World Is Taking Pity On Us, Will American Prestige Ever Recover?”  May 8, 2020, The New York Times 

Erin Gallagher, “William F. Buckley and Argentina’s Dirty War: Burson-Marsteller’s Plan for Improving the Public Image of the Argentine Junta,”  May 4, 2020, Columbia Journalism Review.

Robert Gosende, “Yale Wolf Richmond: A Tribute,”  March 29, 2020; Yale Richmond, March 29, 2020, The Washington Post.   

Robbie Gramer, “Pompeo Emerges as Point Man In War of Words With China,”  May 1, 2020; “Pompeo Criticized for Failure to Communicate on Coronavirus,”  March 17, 2020, Foreign Policy.

Paul Haenle and Lucas Tcheyan, “U.S.-China Cooperation on Coronavirus Hampered By Propaganda War,”March 24, 2020, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Lucie Levine, “Was Modern Art Really a CIA Psy-op?”  April 1, 2020, JSTOR Daily.

Joseph S. Nye, Jr., “Covid–19’s Painful Lesson About Strategy and Power,”  March 26, 2020, War on the Rocks. 

Emily Rauhala, “Expelling U.S. Journalists During Coronavirus Crisis, China Doubles Down on Media War,”  March 18, 2020, The Washington Post.

Melissa Reynolds, “Communication Failures In a Pandemic Can Be Catastrophic,”  March 18, 2020, The Washington Post.

Josh Rogin, “State Department Cables Warned of Safety Issues at Wuhan Lab Studying Bat Coronaviruses,” April 14, 2020; “The U.S.-China Propaganda War Is On Hold, But Not For Long,”  April 2, 2020, The Washington Post. 

Jennifer Schuessler, “Will a Pandemic Shatter the Perception of American Exceptionalism,”  April 25, 2020, The New York Times.

Efe Sevin, Kadir Jun Ayhan, Diana Ingenhoff, “Measuring Country Images: Four Lessons from South Korea,”  March 23, 2020, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

Juan Siliezar, “Reporting on the World Between Two World Wars,”  April 13, 2020, The Harvard Gazette.

Nancy Snow, “Japan’s Government Has Failed Coronoavirus Communications Test,”  February 21, 2020, Nikkei Asian Review.

J.Brooks Spector, “Covid-19: Diplomats in Limbo as US State Department Dithers,”March 22, 2020, Daily Maverick.

Jian (Jay) Wang, “Public Diplomacy in the Age of Pandemics,”  March 18, 2020, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

Jian (Jay) Wang and Sohaela Amiri, “5 Takeaways on U.S. City Diplomacy During the COVID-19 Crisis,”  April 14, 2020, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

Trump / Voice of America / USAGM

Gem From The Past 

Alan L. Heil, Jr., Voice of America: A History,  (Columbia University Press, 2003). Tensions between political leaders and US international broadcasters were present at the creation.  In 1943, a year after the Voice of America went on the air, The New York Times’ Arthur Krock wrote a column arguing that a VOA broadcast had undermined allied negotiations with Italy’s King Victor Emanuel and threatened the lives of American soldiers.  Following a public rebuke of the broadcast by an outraged President Franklin Roosevelt and a showdown at the White House, senior VOA broadcasters in New York, James Warburg, Joseph Barnes, and Edd Johnson, lost their jobs in a major shakeup of the Office of War Information’s Overseas Branch that also included replacement of its director, playwright Robert Sherwood.  Accounts of these and many subsequent episodes at the crossroads of journalism and foreign policy can be found in Alan Heil’s now classic history.  Heil, who had a significant role in achieving VOA’s Charter legislation, wrote a narrative filled with personalities and informed interpretations of salient issues in US international broadcasting.  At a time when broadcasters are facing Trump administration attacks, one more chapter in a long saga, it remains an excellent and timely read.

An archive of Diplomacy's  Public Dimension: Books, Articles, Websites  (2002-present) is maintained at George Washington University's Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication.  Current issues are also posted by the University of Southern California's Center on Public Diplomacy,  the Public Diplomacy Council,  and



The Walter Roberts Endowment and the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication (IPDGC) is proud to congratulate Chaniqua D. Nelson for being the recipient of the Walter Roberts Award for Public Diplomacy Studies for 2020.

In Tokyo

Each year, the Walter Roberts Endowment grants $1,000 to a GW graduate student who shows exemplary performance in public diplomacy studies, and has aspirations for a future career in this field. Ms. Nelson, a Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Graduate Fellow, shared that she had always wanted a job that involved building relationships between the United States and other countries. After her commencement, Ms. Nelson will launch her career as a Public Diplomacy Officer with the U.S. Department of State.

Here’s a short interview with our 2020 Walter Roberts PD Studies award recipient:

What experiences motivated/ inspired you to choose this career path?

In 2012, I had the opportunity to volunteer for the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). That volunteer opportunity led me to meet some amazing Foreign Service Officers who were working to assist the next generation of African Leaders. I remember interacting with both YALI participants and U.S. Foreign Service Officers at a reception hosted at the Meridian International Center, thinking: ‘this is what I want to do for the rest of my life’ - assisting with expanding and strengthening the relationship between the United States and other countries. Later, I had lunch with the Diplomat-in-Residence at the time, Ambassador Eunice Reddick. She shared her story with me, of what led her to the Foreign Service and encouraged me to take the Foreign Service Officer Test and apply to the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Graduate Fellowship. It took a couple of years after my encounter with Ambassador Reddick, to decide on pursuing a career in the Foreign Service. I honestly thought that I didn’t have what it takes to be a Foreign Service Officer - I didn’t know a lot of foreign languages and I didn’t participate in prestigious fellowships/scholarship programs like the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program or the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. However, it wasn’t until I participated in the Overseas Development Program for civil servants at the Department of State, where I served as an office management specialist in the Public Affairs Section at U.S. Embassy Beijing, that I realized that I could do this as well. I was extremely fortunate to have supervisors who cared about my development. So, when I got the courage to ask Minister-Counselor for Public Affairs Lisa Heller and the now Director of the Office of International Visitors Program Anne Grimes to write me a recommendation for the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Graduate Fellowship, both immediately said yes. I am extremely thankful to Ambassador Reddick, Minister-Counselor Lisa Heller, Director Anne Grimes, and a long list of others for their encouragement. Their belief and support had inspired me to apply for the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Graduate Fellowship and attend the George Washington University!

What have you enjoyed about your graduate studies at GW?

I have enjoyed learning about the intricacies of public diplomacy on a micro and macro level. What is special about the George Washington University, in particular the Global Communication program, is its ability to merge theory with practice. In Dr. Patricia Kabra’s Public Diplomacy class, we did everything a public diplomacy practitioner would do including writing speeches, press simulations, and developing a public diplomacy strategy for our embassy. In addition, I have also enjoyed learning about becoming a more compassionate and effective leader through my elective courses at the Department of Management within the School of Business.

What will you be doing after graduation?

After graduation, I will join the Foreign Service as a Public Diplomacy Officer. As of right now, I am unsure where I will be stationed. However, I am excited to explain U.S. history, cultures, and values to foreign audiences and promote educational and culture exchange abroad.

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