Public Diplomacy

Public Diplomacy Front Line Letter to Principals

The posts (notes in Facebook lingo) by the Facebook group “Public Diplomacy Officers for Change” are required reading. In their words, past reports on the future of public diplomacy fail to “truly identify what we as the next generation of public diplomacy officers need to be effective in our jobs. What we don’t need is a return to USIA. What we need is a new foundation for public diplomacy professionals to build on.”

Excerpts from “Public Diplomacy Front Line Letter to Principals” and “WHITE PAPER, "Public Diplomacy: A View From The Front Line" are below.

Public Diplomacy Front Line Letter to Principals

Over the past year there have been many reports published from outside the State Department on the future of public diplomacy. While these reports are scrutinized in great detail by Congress and others in the foreign-policy community in Washington, they clearly lack the full perspective from the front lines of public diplomacy. They fail to truly identify what we as the next generation of public diplomacy officers need to be effective in our jobs. What we don’t need is a return to USIA. What we need is a new foundation for public diplomacy professionals to build on. We call upon our senior leadership to:

Ensure Public Diplomacy Has a Seat at the Table

Reintegrate the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and the Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) into the Policy Process 

Establish a Bureau for Public Diplomacy

Provide Smart Technology for Smart Power

Develop the Next Generation

Expand Training and Professional Education Opportunities for Mid-Level Officers

WHITE PAPER, "Public Diplomacy: A View From The Front Line"

Over the past decade a new generation of public diplomacy officers has risen to the mid-level ranks of the Foreign Service. We have no institutional memory of the U.S. Information Agency; many of our careers began with the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the realization that not everyone loved America or our values. We departed for our first tours with the goal of dispelling increasing misperceptions about America, spread at an alarming rate through the unregulated, and often inaccurate, new world of mobile technology.

It was at that point that our government realized what many of us learned through experience: people-to-people exchanges matter; we need to invest in the long term when it comes to diplomacy, and we cannot achieve our policy objectives in democracies without gaining buy-in from foreign publics. The new generation of public diplomacy officers is ready to take on these challenges in order to promote U.S. strategic interests. But to do this, PD officers need to be empowered, integrated and equipped to succeed in the 21st century. …

The following three examples illustrate the strategic importance of PD to policy:
When Kosovo declared its independence in 2008, it was the embedded PD desk officer who spearheaded the outreach plan for gaining public support in Europe for formal recognition. Similarly, during the August 2008 Russia-Georgia War, the PD desk officer coordinated real-time formal messaging to be used by the interagency and our embassies to counter Russian misinformation. And, during inter-bureau and interagency discussions of NATO’s mission in Afghanistan, the PD desk officer has consistently emphasized the point that a major obstacle to increased European commitment is the low public support for the mission among the populations of Allied countries. …

Public diplomacy-coned officers usually will do at least two, and possibly four years of out-of-cone work before bidding on their first public diplomacy position. When they do bid on PD jobs, they are often disadvantaged in the process because they cannot clearly demonstrate their public diplomacy expertise. …

The need for a highly professional, well-educated public diplomacy corps has never been higher. A stronger PD officer corps will have the ability to reach new audiences, as well as neglected ones, using a variety of methods. …

I recommend you read the “notes” and join the discussion.

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