Martha Bayles, Through A Screen Darkly: Popular Culture, Public Diplomacy, and America's Image Abroad, (Yale University Press, 2014). Bayles (Boston College) pursues two overarching goals: (1) an inquiry into post-Cold War changes in the tone and content of American popular culture, the technologies that convey it to the world, and audiences that interact with it; and (2) a critique of what she calls "the slow death of public diplomacy" grounded in lack of a suitable "coordinating organization" (following the US Information Agency), lack of a domestic constituency, security concerns in US overseas facilities, and "intellectual paralysis caused by thirty years of culture war." The mistake of cutting back on government sponsored public diplomacy was compounded, Bayles argues that by "letting the entertainment industry take over the job of communicating America's policies, ideals, and culture to a distrustful world," making commercial entertainment "America's de facto ambassador." She concludes with recommendations, many drawn from the thinking of former public diplomacy practitioners, for reviving US public diplomacy, international broadcasting, and cultural diplomacy. How, she asks, can public diplomacy deal with the massive export of US entertainment that offends and distorts? Her answer: "Export the American debate over popular culture" and create forums for discussion of cultural content, theirs and ours.
Susan A. Brewer, Andrew Johnstone, Michael L. Krenn, Scott Lucas, Allen M. Winkler, and Justin Hart, "H-Diplo Roundtable on Justin Hart, Empire of Ideas: The Origins of Public Diplomacy and the Transformation of U.S. Foreign Policy," Vol. XV, No. 10, November 4, 2013. Five historians - Brewer (University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point), Johnstone (University of Leicester), Krenn (Appalachian State University), Lucas (University of Birmingham), and Winkler (Miami University in Ohio) -- discuss central issues raised in and by Justin Hart's (Texas Tech University)Empire of Ideas, a carefully researched study of US public diplomacy from 1936 to 1953. What is public diplomacy in US practice and as a field of research? How does it differ from foreign policy and foreign relations? What distinctions are worth making with respect to the porous border between foreign and domestic? What is the role of public diplomacy in a democratic society? Who is a public diplomacy actor? What dilemmas do practitioners face in projecting image and supporting policies and strategies? Includes Hart's response.
"Compliance Followup Review of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs,"Office of Inspector General, US Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors, ISP-C-13-51, September 2013. The Inspectors find the Bureau has complied with most recommendations in its 2012 inspection, improved internal communication, and adopted a strategic planning process. However, the report recommends a number of ways the Bureau could do more to implement the plan and improve work flow efficiencies, including adopting a uniform data collection standard "to quantify the foreign policy relevance of its work."
Mai'a K. Davis Cross and Jan Melissen, eds., European Public Diplomacy: Soft Power at Work, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). This excellent collection of case studies, compiled by Cross (ARENA Center for European Studies, Oslo) and Melissen (Netherlands Institute of International Relations, 'Clingendael'), provides reflections on public diplomacy theory and Europe's rich variety of public diplomacy practices. Their work extends discourse in the multi-disciplinary study of public diplomacy and helps to fill a gap in international relations literature through their assessment of soft power concepts and cases. European public diplomacy is treated at multiple state and non-state levels beyond the EU framework. They examine a range of public diplomacy experiences and experiments that can be improved and that have much to offer other countries and regions. Includes a forward by Nicholas J. Cull (University of Southern California), an introduction by Cross and Melissen, and the following chapters:
-- Mai'a K. Davis Cross, "Conceptualizing European Public Diplomacy" (Available online)
-- James Pamment (University of Texas at Austin), "West European Public Diplomacy"
-- Beata Ociepka (University Wroclaw), "New Members' Public Diplomacy"
-- Ellen Huijgh (Netherlands Institute of International Relations, 'Clingendael'), "Public Diplomacy's Domestic Dimension in the European Union"
-- Teresa La Porte (University of Navarra), "City Public Diplomacy in the European Union"
-- Simon Duke (European Institute of Public Administration), "The European External Action Service and Public Diplomacy"
-- Ali Fisher (Intermedia), "A Network Perspective on Public Diplomacy in Europe: EUNIC"
-- Peter van Ham (Netherlands Institute of International Relations, 'Clingendael'), "The European Union's Social Power in International Politics"
-- Ian Manners (University of Copenhagen) and Richard Whitman (University of Kent), "Normative Power and the Future of EU Diplomacy"
-- Jan Melissen, " Conclusions and Recommendations on Public Diplomacy in Europe"
Walter Douglas with Jeanne Neal, "Engaging the Muslim World: Public Diplomacy after 9/11 in the Arab Middle East, Afghanistan, and Pakistan," Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), November 2013. Douglas (US Department of State) and Neal (CSIS) contend the post-9/11 literature on US public diplomacy looks "overwhelmingly" on what could be done in Washington. Although they may underestimate the amount of attention given to field activities in the literature, their report usefully focuses on what practitioners should do in a region defined as that "most affected by America's response to 9/11 and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan." Their six areas of concern: Define the goals. Listen. Measure success. Reach the target audience. Exchange people and ideas. Get outside the bubble.
Lawrence Freedman, Strategy: A History, (Oxford University Press, 2013). Massive, compelling, and easy to read, Freedman's (Kings College London) history explores strategic thinking from its "prehistory" origins to the present. The book's main sections explore military, political, and business strategies. A concluding chapter portrays Freedman's ideas on "strategic scripts" as "a way of thinking about strategy as a story told in the future tense." Concise profiles of strategic thinkers give life to clearly developed concepts. Particularly useful are closely reasoned assessments of Gustave Le Bon, Antonio Gramsci, Walter Lippmann, John Dewey, Edward Bernays, Harold Lasswell, Isaiah Berlin, Paul Lazersfeld, Todd Gitlin, Herbert Simon, Charles Tilly, and Daniel Kahneman. Although Freedman does not treat diplomacy as a separate analytical category, diplomacy scholars and practitioners will benefit from his central themes: the growing importance and ambiguity of words and stories in thinking about and communicating strategies, the uses and framing of narratives, the value of context in understanding old ideas and new meanings, the limitations of rational choice theory, the roles of chance and intuitive judgments, and strategy as iterative undertakings in situations that are complex, contested, and constantly changing. Freedman's rich discussion of scripts and combinations of two contrasting processes of strategic reasoning -- (1) intuitive, quick, and largely unconscious processes and (2) deliberative, slower, and conscious processes -- are grounded in recent cognitive psychology research and Daniel Khaneman'sThinking Fast, Thinking Slow. Freedman assumes strategies are less about plans and asserting control over situations and much more about planning and ways of coping with situations where nobody has total control. There is much on offer for those concerned with transformation of 21st century diplomacy.
Edmund Gullion, Recorded Address at the Overseas Press Club, October 14, 1964, New York City Municipal Archives, WNYC Collection. In this audio recording of a prepared speech delivered shortly after becoming Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (and shortly before he coined the term "public diplomacy"), former US Ambassador to Congo Edmund Gullion discusses a range of issues at the crossroads of diplomacy and the press. The speech is well worth listening to for its humor and graceful use of language and his nuanced views on the public roles of ambassadors, the importance of relationships between diplomats and journalists and the professional skills need by both, the role and value of foreign correspondents, a considered list of the strengths that considerably outweigh the limitations of the American press, and press coverage in Africa. In Q&A, he expressed concern that the then pending integration of USIA's officers into the US Foreign Service not undermine their creativity. On balance, however, he believed the advantages of the career principle outweighed the disadvantages. He does not use the words "public diplomacy," a term he is widely credited with originating in 1965. (Courtesy of Alan Henrikson and Tom Tuch).
Ellen Huijgh, Bruce Gregory, and Jan Melissen, "Public Diplomacy," in Oxford Bibliographies in International Relations,David Armstrong, ed., (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013). Huijgh and Melissen (Netherlands Institute of International Affairs, 'Clingendael') and Gregory (George Washington University) have compiled a literature review of scholarly publications relating to public diplomacy as a field of study and practice. Intended for students, scholars, and practitioners, their article selectively lists and annotates more than 100 publications and includes brief introductions to fifteen subject categories: general overview; journals; a multi-disciplinary field of study (subsections on communication, diplomacy studies, and soft power); 20th century public diplomacy; 21st century: the "new public diplomacy;" beyond the "new public diplomacy": the future; social media; public diplomacy in the Americas; US public diplomacy; public diplomacy in Europe; public diplomacy in Asia-Pacific; and Chinese public diplomacy. Currently the article is institutionally priced and available by subscription. Oxford University Press will consider an E-Book version (typically priced at about $9.00) if there is sufficient interest. Those interested should contact email@example.com.
Inspection of US International Broadcasting to Russia, Office of Inspector General, US Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors, ISP-IB-13-50, September 2013. In this mixed report, the Inspectors find effective shifts in US broadcasting's strategy to maintain connections with Russian audiences by moving from radio and television to digital platforms. They also find significant managerial deficiencies in its implementation. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America continue their parallel operations, with only small steps toward greater collaboration and efficiencies as envisioned in US broadcasting's 2012-2016 strategic plan.
International Broadcasting in the Social Media Era, A CPD Conference Report, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, November 2013. This summary of the proceedings of a conference held at the University of Southern California on March 1, 2013 looks at issues discussed in two panels: "Striking a Balance Between Broadcasting and Social Media" and "Proving Ground: Influencing and Being Influenced by Asia." Speakers included a team of USC scholars - Philip Seib, Ernest J. Wilson, Jay Wang, Adam Clayton Powell III, and Nicholas Cull - and outside experts: Robert Wheelock, former executive director of Al Jazeera English; Jim Laurie, senior consultant for China Central Television (CCTV-America); Robert Boorstin, director of public policy, Google Inc.; Rajesh Mirchandani, BBC journalist; Nicholas Wrenn, vice president of digital services for CNN international; and Libby Liu, president of Radio Free Asia.
David Kilcullen, Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla, (Oxford University Press, 2013). Kilcullen (anthropologist, author, and policy advisor to soldiers and diplomats in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Washington) provides a deeply researched look at future conflicts, which he argues are increasingly likely to occur in large highly connected coastal cities. Four megatrends - population dynamics, urbanization, coastal settlement, and unprecedented connectedness - are driving change. Cities, not countries, will be the primary analytical focus. Resiliency, not stability, will be the primary goal. Kilcullen's arguments are based on fieldwork and close examination of "nonstate armed groups" in such cities as Mumbai, Modadishu, Karachi, Nairobi, Kingston, Lagos, Kandahar, Misurata, Dhaka, and Monrovia. His central conclusions include conceptualizing cities as constantly changing complex systems, a theory of competitive control in irregular conflicts, adopting strategies that emphasize civilian knowledge domains rather than military solutions, and maintaining armed forces less enamored of a garrison mindset and more focused on "a mobile, improvisational, expeditionary mentality." See alsoKilcullen's "Morning Edition" interview with National Public Radio's Steve Inskeep, December 27, 2013.
Robert Koenig, "Using 'Social Diplomacy' to Reach Russians," The Foreign Service Journal, January/February 2014, 21-26. Koenig (a retired USIA Foreign Service Officer and currently an Eligible Family Member working as an assistant information officer in Moscow) discusses strengths and challenges in US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul's uses of Twitter, blogs, and other social media platforms. For McFaul, social media provide "a fast way to get out information, correct the record, and engage Russians" in Russian on political issues - "apparent political motivations" in the embezzlement conviction of activist Alexei Navalny, Edward Snowden, harsh sentences for the Pussy Riot rock group - and an alternative to government controlled broadcast media for discussing a range of US-Russia policy issues. In McFaul's view the toughest challenges are not aggressive counter Twitter offensives from Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or occasional grammatical errors which enhance authenticity, but "finding the correct balance between personal and professional matters."
Marc Lynch, Deen Freelon, and Sean Aday, Syria's Socially Mediated Civil War, Blogs and Bullets III, US Institute of Peace, Peaceworks, No. 91, January 2014. In this third report in USIP's PeaceTech Initiative, Lynch (George Washington University), Freelon (American University) and Aday (George Washington University) assess group dynamics, uses of online social media by activist organizations, and relationships between new and traditional media in Syria's civil war - "the most socially mediated civil conflict in history." Key findings discuss "a dangerous illusion of unmediated information flows," the powerful roles of curation hubs, implications for policymakers, insular clusters of like-minded communities, and the need to better understand structural bias in social media and connections between online trends and real world developments. As with previous reports, the authors make a strong case that more rigorous research and better tools are needed for reliable analysis of behavior, attitudes, and political outcomes.
Joseph Margulies, What Changed When Everything Changed: 9/11 and the Making of National Identity, (Yale University Press, 2013). Margulies (Northwestern University) argues that timeless symbols and values in an American Creed (liberty, equality, limited government, rule of law, and dignity of the individual) are contested and redefined in a continuous struggle over national identity in the public square. "National identity is what we make of it." Margulies first looks broadly at contrasting historical interpretations of identity in matters of race and religion. He then concentrates on the making of identity after 9/11 in the context of counterterrorism policies and attitudes toward Muslims and Islam. His conclusion: repressive attitudes have taken hold as terrorist threats have decreased. "When Americans come upon a social arrangement they want to preserve, they do not alter their behavior to fit their values, they alter their values to fit their behavior."
Michael Meyer, "Evgeny vs. the Internet," Columbia Journalism Review, January/February 2014, 24-29. CJR staff writer Michael Meyer profiles the intellectual odyssey of digital technology guru Evgeny Morozov as part angry "intellectual hit man" and part serious writer with growing global influence, dozens of blogs and essays in prestigious publications, a monthly column in Slate and leading newspapers in Europe and Asia, and two New York Times Notable Books of the year (The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom, 2012 and To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism, 2013).
Rajesh Mirchandani and Abdullahi Tasiu Abubakar, Britain's International Broadcasting, CPD Perspectives, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, January 2014. In this two part study, BBC journalist Mirchandani and Abubakar (University of London) assess the history, role, successes, failures, and future of the BBC World Service. In "The BBC and British Diplomacy: Past, Present, and Future," Mirchandani argues that "paying for the BBC World Service represents the most public way the British Government carries out public diplomacy." He concludes from his assessment that the BBC's "much-vaunted and jealously-guarded editorial independence plays an important public diplomacy role in generating soft power." This is likely to continue despite the current rise of the BBC's international commercial services. In "British Public Diplomacy: A Case Study of the BBC Hausa Service," Abubaka looks at the impact of the BBC's broadcasting in Nigeria on British public diplomacy.
Stuart Murray and Geoffrey Pigman, "Mapping the Relationship Between International Sport and Diplomacy," Sport in Society, November 18, 2013. Murray (Bond University) and Pigman (University of Pretoria) argue for a bright line analytical distinction between international sport as an instrument of government diplomacy and the "diplomatic representation, communication and negotiation" between non-state actors in international sporting competition. Their article urges promotion of best practices in each category, stronger theory in the study of diplomacy and sport, and debate between scholars and
John Norris, "How to Balance Safety and Openness for America's Diplomats," The Atlantic, November 4,2011. Norris (Center for American Progress) looks at how US diplomats have "faced disease, disaster, war, and terrorism over the last 234 years." His historical narrative concludes "the greatest challenge is a Congress that whipsaws between ignoring the Foreign Service and scapegoating it after disasters, effectively pushing the State Department toward a zero risk approach that will trap American diplomacy in a hermetic bubble." Norris summarizes steps taken and under discussion since Benghazi: reviewing the role of Marines at embassies; calls to re-examine the design of accountability review boards; efforts to get away from a cookie-cutter approach to embassy security; and the need for more highly contextualized discussions of threats at senior levels, additional force protection in some cases, and smaller and more flexible diplomatic teams in others.
Martha C. Nussbaum, Political Emotions: Why Love Matters for Justice, (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2013). Nussbaum (University of Chicago) continues her examination of emotions in social justice in this book on "public emotions rooted in love - in intense attachments to things outside our control." She discusses the cultivation of emotions in the narratives of American and Indian political leaders (Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru) and concepts in Western and Asian political theory. Her examples are drawn from literature, songs, political rhetoric, festivals, memorials, and the design of public spaces. A recurrent theme, valuable for diplomacy scholars, relates to circles of concern and the implications of group preferences by people of the same ethnicity, religion, education, and social class. "Most people tend toward narrowness of sympathy," Nussbaum observes, which means they "are inclined to prefer a narrower group to a broader one" and "forget about the needs of those outside their inner circle."
Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange 2013, Institute of International Education (IIE), November 11, 2013. IIE's news release launching its annual survey reports "the number of international students at colleges and universities in the United States increased by seven percent to a record high of 819,644 students in the 2012-2013 academic year, while U.S. students studying abroad increased by three percent to an all-time high of more than 283,000." China, India, and South Korea lead with a combined total of nearly 50% of the international students. Iran now ranks 15th with an increase to 8,744 students this year, a percentage increase of 25.2% from the previous year.
Laurence Pope, The Demilitarization of American Diplomacy: Two Cheers for the Striped Pants, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). In this short book, Pope (US Ambassador, ret.) writes with passion about needed reforms in a "dysfunctional" Department of State, weakened civilian services and agencies, and a "militarized foreign policy process." He pays particular attention to centralization of foreign affairs capacity in the White House staff; a critique of State's Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development (QDDR) process; intrusion of a "military-intelligence complex" into political roles through extraterritorial ambitions (offensive operations in cyberspace, drones, Special Forces, and "militarization of the World Wide Web"); and the need for diplomats "to move out of fortress embassies and incur a degree of risk, with governments held accountable for their protection."
Jesse Smith, "Success and Growing Pains: Official Use of Social Media at State," The Foreign Service Journal,January/February 2014, 27-33. Smith (University of Pittsburgh) profiles the US Department of State's use of social media and mobile applications for public diplomacy and other purposes. His brief overview discusses funding challenges, difficulties in developing workable guidelines, and in greater detail issues raised in the Inspector General's critical report on the Bureau of International Information Programs.
US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, "Minutes and Transcript for December 2013 Meeting," Washington, DC, December 2, 2013. At its first meeting subsequent to its reauthorization in January 2013, the Commission announced plans to produce white papers and convene forums in 2014 that address issues related to three themes: (1) public diplomacy research methods, (2) public diplomacy in high threat environments, and (3) the future public diplomat. The following documents were released In addition to the transcript of the Commission's meeting.
-- Commission Members and Executive Director Katherine Brown, "US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy 2014 Plan"
-- Jason Blair (Government Accountability Office) and Michael Hurley (Office of Inspector General, US Department of State), "State of Public Diplomacy Practice"
-- Craig Hayden (American University) and Emily Metzgar (Indiana University), "The State of Public Diplomacy Research"
-- Seth Center (Office of the Historian, US Department of State), "The Evolution of American Public Diplomacy: Four Historical Insights"
Recent Blogs and Other Items of Interest
Robin Brown, "Reviewing the FCO Communication Capability Review," January 30, 2014; "The EU Communication Gap? It's a Feature Not a Bug," January 27, 2014; "Foreign Affairs Committee on FCO, Doing Too Much with Too Little," January 10, 2014; "The State of Evaluation," January 9, 2014, Public Diplomacy Networks and Influence Blog.
Brian Carlson, "On Being Inconsequential," November 13, 2013, Public Diplomacy Council; Laurence Pope, "Demilitarizing American Diplomacy," The Leeke-Shaw Lecture on International Affairs, University of Maine, October 18, 2013.
Anja Eifert, "Indonesia as an Example of 21st Century Economic Statecraft," January 29, 2014, USC Center for Public Diplomacy, CPD Blog.
Kathy Fitzpatrick, "The Challenge of AIDS Diplomacy: South Africa Short-Changed," November 22, 2013, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, CPD Blog.
Global Ties U.S., "NCIV Announces Name Change to Global Ties U.S.," January 22, 2014; "What's Behind the New Communications Strategy? An Interview with NCIV President Jennifer Clinton," December 2013.
Stephanie Helm, "Strategic Communication Considerations for the Joint Force Maritime Component Commander," MOC Warfighter, Issue #2, November 2013.
Jonathan Henick, "What Public Diplomacy Can Learn from Netflix?" December 19, 2013, Take Five Blog,; Reply from Robin Brown, "What's VOA For?" January 7, 2014, Public Diplomacy, Networks and Influence Blog,
Carolyn Jaine, "Paintbrush Diplomacy," November 2013, Diplomat Magazine.
Kathy Lally, "U.S. Ambassador in Moscow Uses Social Media to Bypass Official Line," The Washington Post, January 11, 2013.
Donna Marie Oglesby, "Remarks as Prepared for Panel 1, USIA and the Foundations of Public Diplomacy Conference," and "Recognition of Public Diplomacy Alumni," November 12, 2013, Winnowing Fan Blog.
Andreas Sandre, "Diplomacy 3.0 Starts in Stockholm," Huffington Post, January 15, 2014.
Philip Seib, "Avoiding the Branding Trap in Public Diplomacy," USC Center for Public Diplomacy, CPD Blog, January 17, 2014.
Rhonda Zaharna, "Culture Posts: Public Diplomacy in the Ancient World," November 26, 2013, USC Center for Public Diplomacy, CPD Blog.
Gem from the Past
Alexander L. George, Bridging the Gap: Theory and Practice in Foreign Policy, (United States Institute of Peace Press, 1993). Twenty years ago, George (Stanford University) explored theory and practice in the context of six US strategies toward Iraq in 1988-1991. He used this case study to examine the strengths and limitations of scholarly research for the diagnostic and prescriptive work of policymakers. George sought to bridge, not eliminate, the gap between the two cultures with thoughtful insights on what policymakers gain from "policy-relevant knowledge" and the need for scholars to make their work more relevant to practitioners. Today, as more practitioners and scholars focus on ways to bridge a similar gap in the public dimension of diplomacy, George's nuanced arguments are well worth a fresh look.
Current compilations of Diplomacy's Public Dimension: Books, Articles, Websites are posted on this site, the University of Southern California's Center on Public Diplomacy, Arizona State University's COMOPS Journal, and the Public Diplomacy Council. For previous compilations, visit Matt Armstrong's MountainRunner.uswebsite.