Issue #71

Bruce Gregory's Resources on Diplomacy's Public Dimension

September 05, 2014

Rauf Arif, Guy J. Golan, and Brian Moritz, “Mediated Public Diplomacy: US and Taliban Relations with Pakistani Media,”Media, War, & Conflict, Sage, June 18, 2014, 1-17. Arif (University of Texas at Tyler), Golan (Syracuse University), and Moritz (SUNY Oswego) provide a comparative assessment of US and Taliban efforts to influence Pakistani media. Their article is grounded in online interviews with eighteen Pakistani media practitioners and concepts developed in literature on mediated public diplomacy and news construction. Their key findings: (1) the Taliban are more successful than the US in their media relations, (2) a stronger element of distrust exists between official US sources and the Pakistani media, (3) US officials rely mostly on the Internet to disseminate information even though it is a secondary source for Pakistani journalists, and (4) the Taliban have a better understanding of Pakistani media news routines and news culture.

The Aspen Institute, Panel on Reforming Public Diplomacy, 53-minute live stream video, August 5, 2014. Chaired by Walter Isaacson (Aspen President and CEO), the panel includes Richard Stengel (Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs), Madeleine Albright (former Secretary of State), Dina Powell (President, Goldman Sachs Foundation), and Alec Ross (former Senior Advisor for Innovation, Department of State). Panelists discuss public diplomacy largely in the context of events in Ukraine and the Middle East, social media, and in very general terms the role of the Department of State. Includes Q&A.

David W. Barno, “The Army's Next Enemy? Peace,” The Washington Post, July 10, 2014. Army Lt. General Barno (Center for a New American Security) examines challenges for an Army facing budget cuts and a return to domestic bases after 13 years of war. His themes are applicable to diplomacy professionals facing transformational change in whole of government diplomacy: “Selective disobedience” as a way to empower junior leaders facing stultifying bureaucracy. “Tell me which parts of my guidance you have chosen not to follow and why.” Drive “power down” to the lowest possible level. Senior leaders provide guidance and intent. Subordinate leaders have “maximum latitude to design the how.” Beware the pernicious effects of domination by “policies, regulations, email,” and constantly checking smart phones.

Valentina Bartolucci and Steven R. Corman, “The Narrative Landscape of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb," ASU Center for Strategic Communication, Report No. 1401, April 28, 2014. Bartolucci and Corman (Arizona State University) summarize their analysis of cultural master narrative use by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) from 2007 to 2013 based on assessments of texts by and about the group. Their report examines how AQIM uses cultural knowledge of its audience for strategic communication purposes and makes recommendations “for influence activities to counter the discourse.” Their research was supported by a grant from the US Department of Defense Human Social Cultural Behavior Modeling Program.

Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), “To Be Where the Audience Is: Report of the Special Committee on the Future of Shortwave Broadcasting,” August 2014. Key findings and recommendations in this 42-page report include the following. (1) Other than in a few countries where shortwave use is heavily concentrated, the BBG's target demographics in most markets now use and prefer other media. (2) Audiences that migrate to other media do not return to shortwave in a crisis. (3) The BBG must give priority to other media platforms - radio via AM, FM, satellite and cable delivery, and Internet streams; television; social media; and mobile devices. (4) The BBG should “take an aggressive approach to reduce or eliminate shortwave broadcasts” where warranted by audience research and other assessments. BBG Governor Matthew Armstrong chaired the Committee; its members included BBG Governors Ryan Crocker, Michael Meehan, Kenneth Weinstein, and BBG Chair Jeffrey Shell (ex officio).

Hillary Rodham Clinton, Hard Choices, (Simon & Schuster, 2014). Former Secretary of State Clinton's memoir profiles her years as Secretary of State and serves in the thinking of most reviewers as a way to frame issues for her 2016 presidential campaign. In a brief paragraph, she mentions appointing Under Secretary of State Judith McHale “To help us better tell America's story and take on critics.” Her role was to “explain our policies to a skeptical world, push back against extremist propaganda, and integrate our global communication strategy with the rest of our smart power agenda.” And to serve as Clinton's representative to US broadcasting. Because the US has “not kept up with the changing technological and market landscape,” Clinton saw a need to “overhaul and update our capabilities, but it proved to be an uphill struggle to convince either Congress or the White House to make this a priority.” Her book contains numerous accounts of her personal outreach to foreign publics, brief references to making the USA Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo a personal priority, a short chapter on “digital diplomacy in a networked world,” and a closely argued chapter on the policies and politics of the attack on the US “diplomatic compound” in Benghazi and the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Raphael S. Cohen, “Just How Important are 'Hearts and Minds' Anyway? Counterinsurgency Goes to the Polls,” Journal of Strategic Studies, published online May 2014. Cohen (Georgetown University) uses opinion surveys from Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan to argue “public opinion is less malleable, more of an effect than a cause of tactical success, and a poor predictor of strategic victory.” Modern counterinsurgency doctrine needs to be rethought, he contends. Victory results less from a battle to win “hearts and minds” than from demonstrated population control, imposition of law and order, providing food and other necessities, and perceptions of who is stronger and likely to be the winning side.

“Compliance Followup Review of the Bureau of International Programs,” Office of Inspector General, US Department of State and Broadcasting Board of Governors, ISP-14-13, June 2014. The report finds the Bureau has complied with 59 of 80 formal recommendations in the Inspector General's 2013 report. Its leadership has made significant changes to increase transparency, improve communication among staff, empower mid-level managers, and address lack of clarity in how the Bureau supports the mission of the Secretary of State and the White House through a comprehensive outreach plan. Among key 2013 recommendations still not achieved: a management review of public diplomacy in the State Department by the Under Secretary of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, and a clear Department social media strategy. Responsibility for social media remains uncertain; duplication of effort among Department practitioners continues.

Laura E. Cressey, Barrett J. Heimer, and Jeniffer E. Steffensen, eds., Careers in International Affairs, (Georgetown University Press, 9th edition, 2014). In this updated edition of Careers, the editors (alumni of Georgetown's Master of Foreign Service Program) provide an exceptionally helpful guide to “the range of possibilities in the global workplace and tips on how to get these jobs.” Essays by a broad range of authors cover strategies for “preparing for your career,” “marketing yourself,” and profiles on careers in the US Government, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations, international banking and finance, international business, consulting, universities and think tanks, and the media. The guide also provides a directory of more than 250 organizations.

The Digital Diplomacy Bibliography, A Joint Project of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy and The Netherlands Institute of International Relations 'Clingendael,' July 2014. Compiled by two leading research centers in diplomacy studies, with the assistance of Craig Hayden (American University), this bibliography provides titles and brief annotations of recent academic publications and practitioners' discussions on topics related to digital diplomacy. Categories include books, journal articles, book chapters, reports, dissertations and theses, blogs and essays, and multimedia. Includes a brief preface by Jay Wang (USC Center on Public Diplomacy) and Jan Melissen (the Clingendael Institute and University of Antwerp). The bibliography will be helpful to scholars and practitioners.

H.R. 4490, United States International Communications Reform Act of 2014, US House of Representatives, 113th Congress, text of the bill as passed by the House and referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, July 29, 2014. Sponsored by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, Ranking Minority Member Eliot R. Engel, and 13 co-sponsors, the bill would:
(1) Abolish the International Broadcasting act of 1994 and Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG);
(2) Create a US International Communications Agency with a CEO to manage the Voice of America and create a new board restricted to advisory functions;
(3) Change VOA's legal authority to give it a “public diplomacy mandate,” tighten its broadcasts to “news on the United States,” and require programming that “promotes the broad foreign policies of the United States;”
(4) Group Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcasting Network under a separate “Freedom News Network” with its own CEO and a separate board with management functions.
It is not clear whether or when the Senate will consider the bill.

For the Obama administration's views on the bill and US international broadcasting more broadly, see the BBG's Webcast with Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communication Ben Rhodes, BBG Meeting Part 3, 28 minutes, August 13, 2014. Rhodes welcomed Congressional reform efforts but raised concerns about the need for two broadcasting boards and two CEOs, the potential for duplication of effort, and the absence of a formal role for the Secretary of State on the board for Radio Free Europe and other “surrogate” broadcasters. He also spoke to the need for more capacity to deliver compelling content and broadcasting issues relating to Russia, Ukraine, and the US-Mexican border.

H.R. 4490 has prompted considerable comment. Proponents say the bill will address a dysfunctional management structure and strengthen US broadcasting in a “battle of ideas with state and non-state media.” Opponents say it will destroy VOA's journalistic integrity and credibility, leading to a precipitous drop in global audiences, and eviscerate the VOA Charter. Both sides traverse well-plowed ground.

“The Pitch of America's Voice,” Editorial, The New York Times, May 25, 2014.

Gary Thomas, “End of an Era: Congress Tries to Neuter Voice of America's Journalism,” Columbia Journalism Review, July 1, 2014.

“Voice of America Needs to Keep Its Objective Voice,” Editorial, The Washington Post, June 7, 2015.

Emily Metzgar, “Promoting Journalism With a Purpose,” CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, August 7, 2014.

Ellen Shearer, ”Voice of America v. Voice of Putin,” Medill National Security Zone, May 28, 2014.

Alex Belida and Sonja Pace, “Death Knell in Fine Print,” CPD Monitor, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, August 2014.

Matthew Wallin and Jed Willard, “Asking the Right Questions About U.S. International Broadcasting,” June 3, 2014, The Diplomat.

David Ensor, “From the Director, VOA in 2020,” Inside VOA, July 17, 2014.

Jeff Schell, “Why the Broadcasting Board of Governors is Nothing Like RT,” Time Magazine, July 28, 2014.

Mollie King, “Is It News, Or Is It Propaganda?” The Hill, July 22, 2014.

Randy J. Stine, “How Effective is the BBG in 2014?” RadioWorld, June 9, 2014.

Joseph Bruns, “The Voice of America: A Worthy Mission for the 21st Century.”, August 20, 2014.

“Chairman Royce Statement on Letter to President Obama Urging Support for Legislation to Reform U.S. International Broadcasting," House Foreign Affairs Committee, July 28, 2014. Link to the letter.

Itai Himelboim, Guy J. Golan, Bitt Beach Moon, and Ryan J. Suto, “A Social Network Approach to Public Relations on Twitter: Social Mediators and Mediated Public Relations,” Journal of Public Relations Research, 26, 359-379, 2014. Himelboim (University of Georgia), Golan (Syracuse University), Moon (University of Foreign Studies, Republic of Korea), and Suto (Syracuse University) summarize their paper as the application of a “social network conceptual framework to identify and characterize social mediators that connect the US State Department with its international public.” The paper discusses variations in the formality and interdependence of social mediators, formal mediation by US government agencies, informal mediation by NGOs and individuals, and the primacy of informal actors in the Middle East and North Africa. In contrast, they found news media “were rarely found as social mediators and demonstrated the most unilateral relationships.”

Malcolm McCullough, "Governing the Ambient Commons," The Hedgehog Review, Summer 2014. “Is there now a tangible information commons?” McCullough (University of Michigan and author of Ambient Commons: Attention in the Age of Embodied Information) examines this question in the context of high anxiety, polarization, disinformation, incivility, loss of privacy, and other costs of a superabundance of information. These features compel us, he argues, to consider whether and how we should engage in “the design and governance of shared built space.” McCullough's discussion of how we find a balance between “messages and things, between mediated and unmediated experience” raises central issues relevant to virtual reality, community networks, digital governance -- and digital diplomacy.

Donna Oglesby, “A Fine Kettle of Fish: Comparing How Diplomats and Academics Teach Diplomacy Within the United States of America,” Paper presented at the British International Studies Association, Dublin, June 16-18, 2014. Oglesby (Eckerd College) finds significant differences in the core values, theories, pedagogy, and course content of academics and diplomatic practitioners who teach courses on diplomacy in the United States. Her comparison is grounded in her review of more than five-dozen syllabi and many lengthy interviews. Among the paper's findings, insights, and issues discussed are the following: patterns of difference that exceed what is suggested in the literature on a “gap” between theory and practice, sociological dimensions as interesting as the intellectual dimensions of teaching diplomacy, market influences on students as paymasters in American higher education and deans who decide what to market, resistance or indifference to diplomacy studies scholarship by American diplomats teaching their craft, and a marked contrasting receptivity to public diplomacy literature by practitioners and academics. Particularly useful are her composite “snapshots” of the diplomats and academics who teach diplomacy and the ways in which, despite considerable variety in individual approaches, they reflect their respective epistemic communities.

“Persuasion and Power in the Modern World,” House of Lords Select Committee on Soft Power and the UK's Influence, Report of Session 2013-2014, published March 28, 2014. In this 138-page report, the Select Committee provides 88 findings and recommendations in chapters on radical changes in global environment (hyper-connectivity and shifts in the distribution and diffusion of power), responding to change (“hard, soft, and smart power”), the roles and functions of the UK's soft power assets, and “coordination and reinforcement” of the UK's soft power. The UK's Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs provided a 42-page reply to the Select Committee's key judgments in the “Government Response to the House of Lords Select Committee on Soft Power and the UK's Influence” in June 2014. See also Robin Brown's informed summaries: “House of Lords Report on UK Soft Power,” April 24, 2014; “UK Soft Power: The Government Responds (Sort of)," June 26, 2014.

Pew Research Global Attitudes Project, “Global Opposition to US Surveillance and Drones, But Limited Harm to America's Image,” July 14, 2014. Pew's survey "finds widespread global opposition to U.S. eavesdropping and a decline in the view that the U.S. respects the personal freedoms of its people. But in most countries there is little evidence this opposition has severely harmed America's overall image.” Looking at issues in Asia, the survey found rising concerns about conflict with China in Asian nations coupled with positive views on opportunities reflected in China's economic growth. Project Director Richard Wike adds“5 Key Takeaways on Global Views of the US and China.”

Pew Research Internet Project, “Social Media and the 'Spiral of Silence,'” August 26, 2014. Drawing on pre-Internet research on “spiral of silence,” the tendency of people not to speak about policy issues in public or among family, friends and co-workers, the Pew team surveyed 1,802 adults on Edward Snowden's 2013 disclosure of government surveillance of American's phone and email records. Key findings: (1) People were less willing to discuss the Snowden story in social media than in person; (2) Social media did not provide an alternative discussion platform for those not willing to discuss the story; (3) In personal and online settings, people were more willing to share their views if they thought their audience agreed with them; (4) Previous “spiral of silence” findings apply to social media; and (5) Facebook and Twitter users were also less likely to share their views in many face-to-face settings. See also Claire Cain Miller, “How Social Media Silences Debate,” The New York Times, August 26, 2014.

Thomas Renard, The Rise of Cyber-diplomacy: the EU, Its Strategic Partners and Cyber-security, European Strategic Partnerships Observatory, Working Paper 7, June 2014. Renard (Egmont - Royal Institute for International Relations) examines the EU's strategic approach and diplomacy in dealing with four categories of cyber-attacks as developed in Chapter 5 of Joseph Nye's The Future of Power-- cyber crime, cyber-espionage, cyber-terrorism, and cyber-warfare. Renard discusses the EU's efforts to develop an integrated strategy that would enable cooperation across sectors among member states and with international stakeholders. Although most activities still occur at the national level, he profiles a range of EU level activities that include exchange of information and best practices, agreements to facilitate bilateral cooperation, strengthening multi-lateral instruments, shaping Internet governance, and assessment of partnerships.

Andrew A. G. Ross, Mixed Emotions: Beyond Fear & Hatred in International Conflict,(The University of Chicago Press, 2014).In this important new book, Ross (Ohio University) explores the political significance of emotions as sources of collective agency in international relations. His central argument is that “circulations of affect” -- conscious or unconscious exchanges of emotion within a social environment -- have greater analytical power in international relations than constructivist theories of identity and models of rational action. Drawing on recent research in neuroscience, social psychology, and cultural theory, Ross argues that standard emotional categories have limited usefulness. Rather, emotions are shifting and interconnected responses “that shape political agency through shifting patters of co- and multi causality.” He develops his argument through case studies of terrorist violence after 9/11, ethnic conflict in Serbia and Kosovo, and incitement of genocide in Rwanda. For a brief analysis, see Erika M. Kirkpatrick's (University of Ottawa) review in H-DIplo's “Kirkpatrick on Ross, “Mixed Emotions: Beyond Fear & Hatred in International Conflict.” (Courtesy of Donna Oglesby)

William A. Rugh, Front Line Public Diplomacy: How US Embassies Communicate with Foreign Publics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). As explained by Rugh (a former US Foreign Service Officer and ambassador), “This book is about public diplomacy as it is practiced by American diplomats at US embassies around the world.” He defines public diplomacy as “a function of government” - one aspect of diplomacy that is best carried out by Foreign Service professionals as specialists in a separate career track. Chapters focus on Public Affairs Officers, “information programs,” cultural and educational programs, factors to consider in using social media, structural changes and enduring principles. Two chapters look at Defense Department communications and its “very different approaches to foreign audiences” compared to the Department of State. Unfortunately, Palgrave Macmillan continues a policy of institutional pricing in its Series in Global Public Diplomacy.

Juliana Schroeder and Jane L. Risen, “Befriending the Enemy: Outgroup Friendship Longitudinally Predicts Intergroup Attitudes in a Coexistence Program for Israelis and Palestinians," Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, July 28, 2014. Schroeder and Risen (University of Chicago) report on their longitudinal study of Israeli and Palestinian teenagers who attend Seeds of Peace, a summer camp program that brings them together in Maine. They tracked participants' attitudes immediately before and after camp and for 2.9 months following “reentry” to their home countries. Their findings: “Participants who formed an outgroup friendship during camp developed more positive feelings toward outgroup campers, which generalized to an increase in positivity toward all outgroup members. Although the positivity faded upon campers' reentry, there was significant residual positivity after reentry compared to precamp. Finally, positivity toward the outgroup after reentry was also predicted by outgroup friendships.” See also “Peace Through Friendship,” The New York Times, August 22, 2014.

Joshua Yaffa, “Dimitry Kiselev is Redefining the Art of Propaganda,” The New Republic, July 14, 2014, 24-29. Yaffa (a Moscow based journalist who contributes to The Economist) profiles the career of “Putin's favorite TV host” Dimitry Kiselev - an adaptable broadcaster who came of age extolling the merits of Gorbachev's perestroika and who now heads Putin's new state media organization Rosslya Segodnya (Russia Today). Created in December 2013 as a successor to RIA Novosti, Kiselev's organization, in his words, “promotes, or rather propagandizes - I'm not afraid to use the word - healthy values and patriotism.” Yaffa examines ways in which Kiselev, who recently ended cooperative ties with US broadcasting services Voice of America and Radio Liberty, is redefining the role of Russia's state media in the age of the Internet.

Rhonda Zaharna, Battles to Bridges: U.S. Strategic Communication and Public Diplomacy After 9/11, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, 2014). Published mid-way through the first Obama administration, Zaharna's (American University) carefully researched book provided a critical assessment of US public diplomacy after 9/11. It also introduced theoretical concepts that have done much to shape a relational and networked approach to public diplomacy. Her book is widely cited. Scholars and practitioners appreciate its conceptual and historical insights. Grounded in communication theory, it provides insights into soft power, culture, identity, and what she calls “an expanded vision of strategic public diplomacy.” This recently released paperback edition is now affordable for students, teachers, and career diplomats. It contains a new Preface by the author and a Foreword by Nicholas Cull (University of Southern California). Cull's Foreword serves as an introduction to the new edition and his own critique of a US government that “continues to both misunderstand and neglect its public diplomacy.”

Xiaojuan Zhou, “The Influences of the American Boxer Indemnity Reparations Remissions on Chinese Higher Education,” M.A. Thesis, University of Nebraska, May 2014. In this thesis, Zhou examines the uses of indemnities paid by China following the Boxer Rebellion (1898-1990) to establish the American Boxer Indemnity Scholarship Program to support Chinese students studying in the United States, to establish two universities, and to support other higher education-related projects.

Recent Blogs and Other Items of Interest

Robert Albro, “Inauthenticity and the Tweet Tweet of Digital Diplomacy,” July 11, 2014, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

Martha Bayles, “Putin's Propaganda Highlights Need for Public Diplomacy,” July 28, 2014, The Boston Globe.

Donald M. Bishop, “Walter R. Roberts, Architect and Builder of Public Diplomacy,” July 13, 2014, Public Diplomacy Council.

Rosa Brooks, “Six Lessons America Seems Thoroughly Incapable of Learning,” July 15, 2014, Foreign Policy Blog.

Robin Brown, “Recovering the Nation, Part 1: The French Theory of Influence,” August 26, 2014; “Recovering the Nation, Part 2: The Persistence of Nationalness,” August 29, 2014; “ “Recovering the Nation, Part 3: Why Doesn't International Relations Have a Theory of the National?” September 1, 2014; “Nationalisms at Work: British and French Views of Public Diplomacy,” August 20, 2014; “State Department Still Doesn't Have a Public Diplomacy Strategy,” July 2, 2014; “'Multiple Benefits for All': The EU Does Cultural Relations,” June 16, 2014, Public Diplomacy, Networks and Influence Blog.

“Chinese Garden Diplomacy: What the 11-year Struggle to Build a Friendship Garden Reveals about Soft Power,” June 28, 2014, The Economist.

P. J. Crowley, “How to Reduce the Public Diplomacy Deficit,” June 24, 2014, Foreign Service Journal.

Charles H. Dolan, Jr., “Passing of Dr. Walter R. Roberts, Public Diplomat,” July 10, 2014, Take Five, Blog of the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication.

Sarah Grebowski, “America's Purpose and Role in a Changed World,” May/June 2014, World Affairs.

Nirmal Ghosh, “Western Radio Broadcasters Tuning Out: They Are Ceding the Short-wave, or Political 'Soft Power' Space to China Instead,” July 27, 2014, The Straits Times Asia Report.

David Ignatius, “The Senate Republicans' Foolish Fight Over Diplomats,” September 3, 2014, The Washington Post.

Richard Leiby, “After Benghazi: Learning to Defend U.S. Consulates Through More Intensive Training,” June 6, 2014, The Washington Post.

Gary Rawnsley, “China: When to Say Nothing” August 20, 2014; “Cultural Diplomacy and Government Funding,” August 11, 2014, Public Diplomacy & International Communications Blog.

Russell C. Rochte, “In Memorium: Dan Kuehl (1949-2014), Information Power, Public Diplomacy, and Television,” Perspectives,Layalina Productions, Vol. VI, Issue 4, August 2014. Rochte (National Intelligence University) combines his tribute to Dan Kuehl's contributions as a scholar and teacher with observations on the power of global television in achieving national security objectives.

Philip Seib, “The Real Social Media Battleground,” August 27, 2014, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

Gem From the Past

Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Strategic Communication, September 2004. Ten years ago, a small group of US government (State and Defense Departments), scholars, and civil society consultants engaged in a yearlong study of US public diplomacy and strategic communication. This report, the second of three such reports issued by the DSB between 2001-2008, found broad reception for its conclusion that “the critical problem in American public diplomacy . . . is not one of 'dissemination of information' or . . . crafting and delivering the 'right' message.” Rather it is “a fundamental problem of credibility” based on objections to US policies, perceptions of America's self-referential rhetoric and self-serving hypocrisy, gaps between principles and actions, and reliance on Cold War methods and mindset. Task force recommendations addressed Presidential leadership, institutional changes, and ways to leverage creativity, knowledge, and skills in civil society.