BMW: Fostering sustainable partnerships to build bridges of understanding

Of possible interest is the following received this morning from BMW. It is an example of the parallel paths of corporate social responsibility and public diplomacy:

The BMW Group is pleased to announce its first call for submissions for the Award for Intercultural Commitment. The company is looking for intercultural initiators worldwide whose goal is to motivate people from diverse backgrounds to encounter one another with open minds and to take committed action. With the Award, the BMW Group aims to support the best projects and thus contribute to their lasting success. To this end, the company offers award winners customized support services as well as a financial “jump start”.

The deadline for submissions is 31 May 2010. The award ceremony will take place in Munich, Germany, on 18 November 2010. You will find further information about the Award in the enclosed press release and flyer as well as on

From the press release (110kb DOC):

“To make intercultural understanding work, it is necessary to establish a multifaceted culture that is open to people from different cultural backgrounds and environments,” emphasizes Harald Krüger, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG and Chairman of the award competition. “The BMW Group Award for Intercultural Commitment is intended to make a contribution by motivating people to enter into an open dialog and pull together.”

See also their flyer (544kb PDF).

Now for the disclaimer: Neither MountainRunner or Matt Armstrong has an affiliation with BMW Group. The information above is provided as an instructive example of a corporation practicing public diplomacy.

See also:

US International Broadcasting as an Untapped Resource

Recommended: US International Broadcasting: an untapped resource for ethnic and domestic news organization (PDF, 139kb) by Shawn Powers.

The American approach to public service broadcasting, which is severely underfunded when compared to the rest of the world, is also legally separated from U.S. international broadcasting, a firewall that inhibits effective collaboration between either. Indeed, the problem is worse, as U.S.-funded international broadcasting is prohibited from disseminating its journalistic features within the U.S., a ban that prevents effective use of its significant journalistic resources by both public and private news networks in the United States. including a large sector of ethnic media that could surely benefit from the 60 languages that American international broadcasting reports in. For comparison, the BBC, the world’s most respected news institution, houses all of its international and domestic news services in the same newsroom, therefore maximizing the benefits of a diverse and large staff while limiting costly redundancies. This paper argues for further collaboration between government funded international broadcasting and its domestic counterparts — both public and private — and thus for policies that match the reality of today’s information ecology.

Shawn’s paper is a welcome contribution to the need to break down the firewall of the revised Smith-Mundt Act. The original purpose of the institutionalization of US international broadcasting in 1945 (the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 was first introduced in October 1945) was to fill a gap in reaching non-US audiences that US media could not. Testifying before a House Appropriations Committee in 1946, the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs stated the purpose of US government broadcasting:

Our number one policy is to encourage private agencies to do the job. We propose only to fill in the gaps where, and when private agencies cannot do the job.

Today, in a twist on the question about a tree in the forest, if America’s media does not cover an event, does it really happen? The retreat of US domestic media from overseas is troublesome for America’s global affairs. America’s media focus on speed over accuracy and a short-attention span prevents not only informing the American public, but of legislators, policy makers, and even the media itself. 

Shawn’s paper should be required reading by Congress and the State Department.

One minor comment on the paper: Shawn implies the language “for examination only” in Section 501 of the Act / Section 1461 of US Code was in the original legislation. It was, in fact, inserted by Senator Fulbright. 

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Foreign Affairs for the 21st Century by Bill Kiehl

Friend Bill Kiehl offers a remodel of the State Department at Layalina, Foreign Affairs for the 21st Century:

To re-right the balance in America’s national security structure, the Department of State must be broadened into a true Department of Foreign Affairs (the original name by the way) and like the Department of Defense should be restructured to accommodate the many roles it must play. Within the Department of Foreign Affairs there could be semi-independent sub-departments, similar to the departments of the individual services in the Defense Department, to deal with traditional diplomacy (i.e. state-to-state relations), public diplomacy (similar to the former USIA), foreign assistance (USAID), foreign trade (USTR, FCS, FAS etc.), stabilization and reconstruction (in league with DoD). These Departments within the Department of Foreign Affairs could function as the Department of Diplomacy, the Department of Public Diplomacy, the Department of International Development, the Department of International Trade, etc.

Read the whole thing here.

See also:

  • A Proposal for Reorganization at Foggy Bottom – my proposal to reorganize State
  • Hitting Bottom at Foggy Bottom at
  • Reorganizing Government to meet hybrid threats at the Stimson Center

Book review by Dennis Murphy on the Routledge Handbook of Public Diplomacy

handbookpublicdiplomacy[1]Dennis Murphy reviews the Routledge Handbook on Public Diplomacy edited by Nancy Snow and Phil Taylor.

To address these shortcomings and provide a balanced, and heretofore lacking conceptual framework [for public diplomacy], Nancy Snow and Philip Taylor have pulled together an impressive number of academics and practitioners to lay the foundations of the concept in the 29 chapters of this handbook.  Organized topically into six parts, the editors have attempted to provide a resource with wide-appeal ranging from the lay-person interested in public diplomacy to the advanced practitioner. …

The “Handbook of Public Diplomacy” is a worthy effort that provides a broad conceptual framework for the increasingly important national security field of public diplomacy. It is recommended reading for all who study, practice and are interested in the application of the information element of power in support of national objectives.

Read the whole review here. Support this blog and go to Amazon and buy the book or something else using this link.

The Voice of America: Origins and Recollections by Walter Roberts

American Diplomacy has several interesting articles this month, including a historical review by Walter Roberts, The Voice of America: Origins and Recollections:

Beginning in 1937, the failure of the Executive Branch to reach a decision regarding the establishment of a governmental radio station led to a shift in initiative from the Department of State to Congress. Gregory calls it “a change that was marked by the introduction in both the House and the Senate of several bills.” Their sponsors, in particular Congressman Emmanuel Celler (D- NY), argued that every other nation was prepared to see that the world understands its point of view – yet the U. S.  was at the mercy of the propaganda of other countries without the ability to present its own position. The year was 1937 and German-Nazi and Italian-Fascist propaganda were in full swing.

The Congressional sponsors of a government short wave station found themselves fiercely opposed by the private broadcasters of this country. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) passed a resolution in June 1937 opposing any governmental international radio station. Within the Executive Branch there was no unanimity and the President was not willing to support the establishment of a government radio station.  The plan died in early 1940.

Continue reading “The Voice of America: Origins and Recollections by Walter Roberts

How Public Diplomacy Worked in Practice by Hans Tuch

imageHans “Tom” Tuch reflects on US public diplomacy in Germany over three decades, from 1950 to 1982, at American Diplomacy. In How Public Diplomacy Worked in Practice, Tom describes the value of America’s overseas libraries, resources that today have been cut back or hidden to the point of being, in some cases, nearly useless.

[T]he America House library was "open-shelf" where people could select and check out books of their choice.  We did not immediately realize the democratizing impact of our open-shelf library until a frequent visitor, the city librarian who was also the director of the University library, told us that in rebuilding both libraries, he would convert them to open-shelf institutions, the first in the Federal Republic. A German researcher later wrote that one could not underestimate the success of the America Houses in introducing Germans to a new open-shelf library system, which made libraries attractive institutions. The principal impact of the America Houses, she wrote, was in influencing and changing the view of America among the German people. Through the medium of the library it was possible, she concluded, to persuade many Germans to regard America positively and often admiringly.

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Leader for State’s Bureau of International Information Programs to remain a “Coordinator”

For reasons that are beyond me, I heard a rumor that the leadership of State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) will remain a “Coordinator” and not be an Assistant Secretary. In 2008, then-Under Secretary Jim Glassman successfully created the new position, but as of yet, it has remained unoccupied. (Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Support to Public Diplomacy Mike Doran was nominated but never confirmed.) The move was to put IIP on equal footing with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and the geographic bureaus, all of which are headed by assistant secretaries.

Perhaps this decision will be explained in the yet-to-be-released public diplomacy strategy of Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale.

Your thoughts?

One Nation Under Contract – A Book Review Essay by PHK

From the first recorded use of mercenaries four thousand years ago, through the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, and until the nineteenth century, mercenaries were regular features of war. It was not Westphalia that disarmed mercenaries, but a confluence of nationalism, technology, and increasing interstate trade that marginalized them. It would be another two hundred years after the birth of the modern state before states would effectively hold each other accountable for the actions of their citizens, started linking the projection of force to a specific geographic territory, and consolidated the decision to personally volunteer and fight in wars away from the people and into the hands of the governments of states that private militaries were “de-legitimized, de-democratized, and territorialized”. The same consolidation seen in privateers was also evident in commercial enterprises as activities from the territory of state was viewed as sanctioned by that government.

Continue reading “One Nation Under Contract – A Book Review Essay by PHK