Defense Department,  Interagency,  Public Diplomacy,  State Department

Bruce Gregory: Mapping Smart Power in Multi-stakeholder Public Diplomacy / Strategic Communication

The following was delivered at “New Approaches to U.S. Global Outreach” hosted by The Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication at George Washington University on October 5, 2009. It is available here by permission of Bruce.

…Smart power is a term Harvard’s Joseph Nye invented in 2003 to counter the misperception that soft power alone is sufficient in foreign policy. He said we need “smart strategies that combine the tools of hard and soft power.” Nye had been writing for years about combining coercion, persuasion, and attraction. For him, smart power was a new term, not a new concept.

The Obama Administration has adopted “smart power” to frame a strategy that uses “the full range of tools at our disposal – diplomatic, economic, military, political, legal, and cultural.” The challenge, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton puts it, is “picking the right tool, or combination of tools, for each situation.”

To frame the conversation, I’ll offer three propositions. First proposition: public diplomacy and strategic communication are analogous – not antithetical. …

Second proposition: in today’s global information environment, we must do more than adapt – we must transform. We know that exponential growth in mobile phones, social media, and viral communication is changing diplomacy and armed conflict. …

Third proposition: as important as they are, State and Defense are not the only stakeholders; Afghanistan and Iraq are not the only issues. …

Let me close with these questions:

1. Rather than talk casually about listening, how should we privilege deep comprehension? …

2. How should we take government collaboration with civil society to a new level? …

3. How should we change in ways that favor networks and flexible practitioners – boundary spanners rather than gatekeepers? …

4. How should we change investment ratios? …

5. How should we move from episodic coordination to strategic direction that is durable and empowered? …

6. Finally, can we achieve meaningful transformation soon? …

Read Bruce’s entire presentation here (PDF, 210kb)