This roundup of recent public diplomacy related reads is courtesy of Bruce Gregory. It is intended for teachers of public diplomacy and related courses, but of course all are welcome to peruse and recommend items for future lists. Bruce is an adjunct professor at both George Washington University and Georgetown University. His knowledge of the discussions behind the scenes around public diplomacy and strategic communication is perhaps the greatest of any person you’ll meet. In the prior century, Bruce served as the executive director of the U.S. Advisory Communication on Public Diplomacy.
Gordon Adams and Shoon Murray, eds., Mission Creep: The Militarization of US Foreign Policy? (Georgetown University Press, 2014). There is an “institutional imbalance at the heart of the foreign policy and national security process,” Adams and Murray (American University) argue, driven by growing militarization of civilian instruments of power. The military has become the primary actor and face of US policy abroad – with adverse consequences for diplomacy and the missions, programs, roles, and budgets of civilian agencies. Thirteen essays provide contrasting views on this argument. Several are particularly useful for diplomacy scholars and practitioners. James Dobbins (RAND), “Civil-Military Roles in Postconflict Stabilization and Reconstruction.” Brian Carlson (Intermedia Research Institute), “Who Tells America’s Story Abroad.” Shoon Murray and Anthony Quainton (American University), “Combatant Commanders, Ambassadorial Authority, and the Conduct of Diplomacy.” Edward Marks (Simons Center for the Study of Interagency Cooperation), “The State Department: No Longer the Gatekeeper.”
Christina Archetti, “Terrorism, Communication and New Media: Explaining Radicalization in the Digital Age,” Perspectives on Terrorism, Vol. 9, Issue 1, February 2015, 49-59. Archetti (University of Salford, UK) challenges misunderstandings about the role of technologies and concepts of strategic communication and narratives in countering violent extremism. Her article examines the social construction of individual and collective narratives and the role played by mediated technologies in extending them through “indirect relationships” and “imagined communities.” Archetti concludes with a brief discussion of a communication-based framework for understanding radicalism and lessons for counter-terrorism.
Gregory Asmolov, “Welcoming the Dragon: The Role of Public Opinion in Russian Internet Regulation,” Center for Global Communication Studies, 2015. Asmolov (London School of Economics) argues that protecting Internet freedom in Russia requires a shift in public opinion that is centered not only on opposition to state-sponsored framing of the Internet as a threat but also on an understanding of the “Internet’s role in the everyday life of its users.” Asmolov’s paper discusses recent regulatory initiatives in Russia and opinion surveys on the role of the Internet in Russian life and attitudes toward the role of the state in Internet governance. He concludes that challenges to the frame of the “Internet as a Threat” requires an “alternative imaginary that allows for the realization that the Internet may have substantial life-changing value for individuals.”
Maria Luisa Azpíroz, “Soft Power and Public Diplomacy: The Case of the European Union in Brazil,” CPD Perspectives, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, March 2015. Azpíroz (University of Liege, Belgium) identifies and analyzes the EU’s public diplomacy activities in Brazil. She examines their challenges and potential in a conceptual framework that emphasizes creation of collaborative networks and “normative power” used in combination with economic instruments in what she calls “civil power.” Her paper focuses on activities of the European External Action Service in the EU’s relations with Latin America, Mercosur, and Brazil during the years 2011-2013. Azpíroz concludes that “cultural, educational, and scientific components constitute the best assets of EU public diplomacy in Brazil.” CPD has published her paper in English and Spanish.
Vanessa Bravo and Maria De Moya, “Communicating the Homeland’s Relationship with its Diaspora Community: the Cases of El Salvador and Colombia,” The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, Volume 10, Number 1, 2015, 70-104. In this needed contribution to the public diplomacy of Latin American governments, Bravo (Elon University) and De Moya (DePaul University) examine ways in which El Salvador and Colombia conceptualize and communicate with their diaspora communities in the United States. The authors use qualitative content analysis of official publications and other public information to analyze types of relationships (communal vs. exchange), issues the two governments identify as important to these communities, and means by which they seek to engage and strengthen relationships with them. The article provides a typology of government-to-diaspora communication and frames a new category of “hybrid relationships.” A literature review on diasporas and diaspora diplomacy adds to the value of their work.
Craig Hayden, “Research Trends in Public Diplomacy,” Talking Points from a Presentation to the International Studies Association Annual Conference, February 20, 2015, Posted on Intermap Blog, February 23, 2015. In this handy “snap shot” of public diplomacy research – described not as a road map of where to go, but “a complicated subway map around the hub of public diplomacy studies” – Hayden (American University) profiles areas that define current scholarship. His list: (1) the new public diplomacy, (2) continuing refinement and critique of the soft power concept, (3) public relations, (4) mediated public diplomacy, (5) content analytic approaches, (6) digital diplomacy, (7) comparative studies, and (8) cognate concepts. His overview also includes some notable absences and quick takes on where public diplomacy research can go.
Ingrid d’Hooghe, China’s Public Diplomacy, (Brill/Nijhoff, 2015). In her comprehensive and deeply researched book, d’Hooghe (Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael”) builds on years of scholarship to provide an indispensable account of China’s approach to public diplomacy – the cultural and political factors that shape its characteristics, its strengths and limitations, and its role in China’s domestic and foreign policies. Her book combines thoughtful assessments of China’s conceptualization of public diplomacy and soft power with up-to-date examinations of organizations, tools, and methods. Case studies include: China’s public diplomacy strategies in Africa and Asia, the Beijing Olympics, the Shanghai World Expo, the SARS epidemic, product scandals, and the Wenchuan earthquake. d’Hooghe usefully places her inquiry in the context of a thoughtful examination of Western concepts of public diplomacy and provides an extensive English and Chinese language bibliography. Her book is Volume 10 in Clingendael’s Diplomatic Studies series edited by Jan Melissen.
Anup Kaphle, “The Foreign Desk in Transition,” Columbia Journalism Review, March/April 2015, 37-40. Kaphle (digital foreign editor, The Washington Post) explores changes in the mainstream media’s foreign reporting in the digital era. His article looks at international blogs reported from home bureaus, new readers who seek more analysis and faster dispatches, and the current “hybrid blend of traditional correspondents and in-house bloggers.” Kaphle expects changes as mainstream news organizations share agenda setting space with digital natives who are developing new models of foreign reporting.
Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Is the American Century Over? (Polity Press, 2015). In this slim volume, Nye (Harvard University) summarizes years of thinking on the varieties of contested issues in debates about America’s role in the world. His bottom line: the American century is not over if it is understood as “pre-eminence in military, economic, and soft power resources that have made the United States central to the workings of the global balance of power, and to the provision of public goods.” However, given power diffusion and increased complexity, America’s role is “definitely changing in important ways.” Nye’s tapestry is woven from threads in his thinking on diplomacy, power, history, and international relations.
“On the Right Side of History: Public Diplomacy & LGBT Rights Today,” Public Diplomacy Magazine, USC Association of Public Diplomacy Scholars, Issue 13, Winter 2015. This edition of PD Magazine contains 18 short essays by scholars and practitioners on LGBT issues in the study and practice of diplomacy.
Yelena Osipova, “’Russification’ of ‘Soft Power’: Transformation of a Concept,” Exchange: Journal of Public Diplomacy, Syracuse University, December 2014. Osipova (American University) examines Russia’s re-conceptualization and indigenization of soft power as manifest in official and academic discourse. Her paper explores creation of a distinct Russian approach to soft power grounded in its political culture and its framing of American soft power as a mask for projecting hegemony and interference in Russia’s internal and external affairs. Selecting from a range of cultural diplomacy, international broadcasting, and other Russian soft power tools, Osipova focuses on Russia’s use of development and humanitarian assistance and cultivation of civil society networks abroad. She concludes with a brief look at Russia’s use of soft power in Ukraine.
“PD Hub, CPD’s Virtual Classroom,” USC Center on Public Diplomacy, 2015. CPD’s new searchable online library includes active links to books, articles, speeches, essays, PD News items, and CPD Blogs. PD Hub also includes a list of PD organizations, a database of multimedia resources, links to annotated bibliographies, and other resources. A “go to” research site for students, scholars, and practitioners.
Rufus Philips, “Breathing Life Into Expeditionary Diplomacy: A Missing Dimension of US Security Capabilities,” Working Paper, National Security Information Center, Fall 2014. In this 86-page paper, Philips (Senior Fellow, NSIC) examines the reasons for creating an “expeditionary diplomatic capability” and the thinking, training, and resources needed to bring it into being as a separate personnel category working directly for US Chiefs of Mission. Drawing on the thinking of retired Ambassador Marc Grossman, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, and others, Philips analyzes a range of issues: missions and roles of an expeditionary capability, recruitment, skill sets, risk management, the elements of a basic education and training course, management and administration, and an orientation course for ambassadors and deputy chiefs of mission.
Katarzyna Pisarska, “The Role of Domestic Public Engagement in the Formulation and Implementation of US Government-sponsored Educational Exchanges: An Insider’s Account,” Place Branding and Public Diplomacy (2015) 11, 5-17. Pisarska (Warsaw School of Economics and Center for European Policy Analysis) argues that domestic civil society organizations, long essential in implementing US exchange programs, over time become partners in program design and policy formulation. Her article draws on interviews with diplomats and practitioners and a research literature grounded in relational models often characterized by the term “new public diplomacy.” Pisarska argues international exchanges can serve as an example for other instruments of public diplomacy as states “adjust to the ongoing internal democratization of foreign policy.”
Peter Pomerantsev and Michael Weiss, “The Menace of Unreality: How the Kremlin Weaponizes Information, Culture and Money,” The Interpreter, Institute of Modern Russia, November 22, 2014. In this 43-page paper, Pomerantsev (journalist and author of Nothing is True and Everything is Possible) and Weiss (editor-in-chief of The Interpreter and columnist for Foreign Policy) argue that Russia systematically uses “information not in the familiar terms of ‘persuasion,’ ‘public diplomacy’ or even ‘propaganda,’ but in weaponized terms, as a tool to confuse, blackmail, demoralize, subvert and paralyze.” Information, cultural organizations, and money, they contend, are central elements in Putin’s “concept of ‘non-linear war.’” Their paper offers a variety of recommendations on ideas and tools needed to understand and respond to a strategy that uses culture and money to enable aggression and “freedom of speech as a way to subvert the very possibility of debate.”
Monroe E. Price, Free Expression, Globalism and the New Strategic Communication, (Cambridge University Press, 2015).
This is a brilliant and original book.
In what he calls an invitation to a conversation about the “architecture” of speech in society, information flows, and strategic communication, Price (University of Pennsylvania) presents “a series of inquiries into global actors and the relationship between their information strategies and geopolitical impacts.” The first half of the book offers an array of sophisticated empirically grounded concepts: definitions of “strategic communication” and “strategic communicators,” organized advocacy of “narratives of legitimacy,” the concept of “analytical diagnostic” in media assistance and public diplomacy, information and strategic asymmetries, and “strategic architectures of media and information systems.” The second half contains case studies: perceptions of “soft war” in Iran in the pre-Rouhani era, religions and strategic communication, NGOs in democracy promotion, “platforms” as bases for advancing ideas or national identity focusing on the Beijing Olympics, and the implications of regulating satellite transponders for Internet governance. His book offers numerous insights into new ways of thinking about power, communication, and the theory and politics of free expression.
“Public Diplomacy: Inside the Issues 5.10,” CIGI Podcast, Center for International Governance Innovation, January 8, 2015. CIGI Senior Fellow Andrew Thompson interviews US Consulate Toronto Public Affairs Officer Hillary Fuller Renner. Topics discussed in this 27-minute video include the role of cultural diplomacy, how public diplomacy is changing, the impact of digital technologies, and US public diplomacy activities in Canada.
“Public Diplomacy and the Role of the Public Affairs Officer,” USC Center on Public Diplomacy, January 8, 2015. In this approximately 6-minute video, senior State Department officials discuss the meaning of public diplomacy and roles, tools and methods of Public Affairs Officers.
Tim Rivera, “Distinguishing Cultural Relations from Cultural Diplomacy: The British Council’s Relations With Her Majesty’s Government,” CPD Perspectives, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, January 2015. Rivera (Delegation of the European Union to the United States) has adapted his MA thesis written at Kings College London for publication by CPD. His project (annotated previously in this reading list) examines a basic question: What does the British Council do? “Cultural relations” through international educational and cultural engagement as framed by the Council? “Cultural diplomacy,” a term preferred by the British Government? Or perhaps the Council engages in “new public diplomacy,” a frame that appeals to some scholars. In his study of the Council from 2010 to the present, Rivera develops a framework that seeks to clarify these concepts and make a normative claim that cultural relations is more effective than cultural diplomacy in advancing a nation’s soft power. He argues that recent oversight and funding trends threaten the Council’s “’arms length’ relationship with and ‘operational independence’ from the Government.” Contains updated financial data from Council reports.
Andreas Sandre, Digital Diplomacy, (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015). Sandre (Embassy of Italy to the United States) has compiled twenty-six conversations with diplomats, journalists, scholars, technology executives and other experts that probe issues at the crossroads of digital technologies and diplomatic practice. Based on the Embassy’s popular Digital Diplomacy Series in Washington, DC, they provide insights, advice, and numerous references that open doors to further inquiry. Sandre’s work with practitioners who are coming to terms with dgital technologies usefully complements the growing scholarly literature in diplomacy and communication studies.
Matthew Wallin, Military Public Diplomacy: How the Military Influences Foreign Audiences, White Paper, Atlantic Security Project (ASP), February 2015. In this well organized and clearly argued 42-page report, ASP fellow Matt Wallin looks at definitional, structural, and operational issues in “military public diplomacy” – a term he defines as “military communication and relationship building with foreign publics and military audiences for the purpose of achieving a foreign policy objective.” His report includes case studies, best practices, and evaluation of strengths and limitations in the following categories: inform and influence activities, information operations, civil affairs, strategic communication, leaflets in Afghanistan, trans-regional web initiatives, commander’s emergency response program, military exchange programs, female engagement teams, human terrain system, and military information support teams (MIST).
R.S. Zaharna, “From Pinstripes to Tweets,” The Cairo Review of Global Affairs, January 25, 2015. Zaharna (American University) provides a sweeping portrayal of diplomacy’s use of communication tools from the Amarna Tablets of ancient Egypt to todays’s digital media. Her article focuses on social media’s strengths and limitations, networking and the “relational paradigm” in public diplomacy, contentious publics enabled by digital technologies, the overlooked potential of diaspora populations, and the need for governments to shift from analyzing messages to studying relational dynamics on and offline.
Recent Blogs and Other Items of Interest
Michael Birnbaum, “Russia’s anti-American Fever Goes Beyond the Soviet Era’s,” March 8, 2015, The Washington Post.
Donald M. Bishop, “Public Diplomacy: Time to Debate, Change, Continuity, and Doctrine,” February 2015, American Diplomacy.
Broadcasting Board of Governors, “Statement from BBG on CEO and Director Andrew Lack,” March 4, 2015, BBG website.
Robin Brown, “Lobbyists and the Outsourcing of Public Diplomacy,” March 12, 2015; “French Cultural Diplomacy in Eastern Europe, 1936-51,” March 4, 2015; “(Not) The Freedom House Guide to Policy Advocacy,” March 2, 2015; “Cuts and Capabilities at the FCO,” February 27, 2015; “What’s Different About Confucius Institutes?” January 22, 2015; “Counter Propaganda: The Case of ISIS,” January 13, 2015, Public Diplomacy, Networks and Influence Blog.
Daryl Copeland, “How Can We Do Diplomacy Better,” February 18, 2015, Canadian Defense and Foreign Affairs Institute.
Karen DeYoung, “U.S. Seeks to Capitalize on Defeat of Islamic State in Kobane,” January 27, 2015, The Washington Post.
Anna Fifeld, Missy Ryan, and David Nakamura, “Before Attack, U.S. Diplomat Sought to Charm, Engage with South Koreans,” March 5, 2015, The Washington Post.
Frans-Stefan Gady, “How the Pentagon Manipulates People Overseas,” February 11, 2015, The Diplomat.
Craig Hayden, “The 2014 US Advisory Commission Comprehensive Annual Report,” January 6, 2015, Intermap Blog.
John Hudson, “Top American Diplomat Decries ‘Lies’ of Russian Media,” January 27, 2015, Foreign Policy Blog.
David Ignatius, “The Internet Isn’t to Blame for Radicalization,” January 15, 2015, The Washington Post.
“Kerry Tells Royce He’s 100 Percent With Him on BBG Reform, Asks for More Money,” February 25, 2015, BBG Watch.
Joseph Lichterman, “Here’s How the BBC, Disrupted by Technology and New Habits is Thinking About its Future,” January 28, 2015, NiemanLab.
Kristin Lord and Marie Harding, “The Challenges of People-to-People Programs – and How to Surmount Them,” February 27, 2015, USC Center on Public Diplomacy Blog.
Ron Nixon, “U.S. Seeking a Stronger World Media Voice: Broadcasting Board of Governors Names Chief Executive,” The New York Times, January 21, 2015.
Ed Royce, “Chairman Royce Statement on Resignation of U.S. International Broadcasting Executive Andy Lack,” March 5, 2015, US House of Representaves.
Eric Schmidt, “U.S. Intensifies Effort to Blunt ISIS’ Message,” February 16, 2015. The New York Times.
Gem from the past
Monroe E. Price, Media and Sovereignty: The Global Information Revolution and Its Challenge to State Power, (The MIT Press, 2002). Recent publication of Price’s Free Expression, Globalism and the New Strategic Communication (annotated above) is just the occasion for this gem from the past. In Media and Sovereignty, Price developed his idea of “market for loyalties” and thinking about ways in which states use media to maintain sovereignty within borders and to influence populations and disrupt loyalties in other states. Successful management of the “market” yields what he calls “narratives of legitimacy” through which groups or coalitions maintain power. His conceptual framework also explains anxieties and the instrumental and systemic consequences when narratives and loyalties break down. Taken together, these books frame Price’s understanding of “strategic communication and strategic architectures for altering flows of information” within states and in regional and global settings.
An archive of Diplomacy’s Public Dimension: Books, Articles, Websites (2002-present) is maintained at George Washington University’s Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication. Current issues are also posted by the University of Southern California’s Center on Public Diplomacy, Arizona State University’s COMOPS Journal, and the Public Diplomacy Council.
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