…Richmond explains well how politics influenced cultural exchange and that the work of cultural officers in the Soviet Union – of which I was one – was often as much political as it was cultural. He also recognized that cultural exchange was a two way street because through “cultural exchange we learned much about each other.” And he stressed that “while the immediate objective may have been improved mutual understanding, the long-range objective was a more stable relationship between the two countries.”
Richmond concludes in his “Afterword” by asking whether public diplomacy practices learned during the Cold War could “serve as a model for defeating terrorism and anti-Americanism in the world we live in today.” His nuanced answer in which he emphasizes the need for patience – Rome was not built in a day and the Cold War lasted decades – as well as the necessity for policy makers to be “aware of the public opinion consequences of their decisions” is far more “yes” than “no.”
Yet Richmond also cautions that those who are “expected to practice public diplomacy should also have some input into the decisions” that govern its implementation and that increased funding and a larger public diplomacy staff will not alone win support for American policies. I agree.
Read her whole review here.