Laura Rozen: Public diplomats (rightly) fear the direction of “R”

This week promises to be Public Diplomacy Week with activity coming from all corners. Stay tuned to MountainRunner for updates.

First up is Laura Rozen’s post at

Despite the fact that Barack Obama gave his first interview as president to Al Arabiya television and has appointed a top foreign policy advisor from his campaign as the NSC director of strategic communications, some U.S. public diplomacy experts fear the new administration will forget the hard-earned lessons of the recent past, treating the State Department’s undersecretary for public diplomacy job as a Madison Avenue-type advertising position, rather than a national security post.
“This is a national security job,” said James Glassman, who stepped down last month after serving less than a year as the undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, or “R” as it’s known in government circles. “The vast majority of [U.S. public diplomacy funds] continues to be spent on education and cultural programs. But I changed the emphasis to national security, much to the pleasure of the DoD and frankly other parts of the interagency.”

Glassman’s worry is that the job will revert to advertising-style burnishing of the image of the United States, rather than being a non-military way for the U.S. to combat violent extremism.

The Washington Independent‘s Spencer Ackerman and Foreign Policy’s Marc Lynch have both noted that former Discovery Communications President and CEOJudith McHale is likely to be named to be Glassman’s successor. The State Department said it would have no comment and hasn’t yet announced a nominee.

Read the rest here.

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