Diplomacy’s Public Dimension: Books, Articles, Websites #77

Intended for teachers of public diplomacy and related courses, here is an update on resources that may be of general interest.  Suggestions for future updates are welcome.

Bruce Gregory
Adjunct Professor
George Washington University
Georgetown University

Amelia Arsenault, Center’s of Gravity in Public Diplomacy 2.0: A Case Study of Efforts in South Africa, CPD Perspectives, USC Center for Public Diplomacy, September 2015. Arsenault (Georgia State University) calls for a “geocentric approach” to public diplomacy that gives priority to information contexts and issue-relevant publics, rather than government public diplomacy actors, as the analytical starting point in scholarship and practice.  Converging trends in the media environment and diplomatic practice require a fundamental shift (“a Copernican approach”) in analytical perspective: look first at mediated and interactive contexts, then at how public diplomacy actors interact in those contexts.  Arsenault frames her ideas in a case study of US public diplomacy conducted during reductions in funding for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in South Africa.  Her knowledge of social media analytics, public diplomacy literature, and South Africa make this an excellent teaching case for exploring whether media outreach can engage and influence.

Gordon Adams and Shoon Murray, eds., Mission Creep: The Militarization of US Foreign Policy, (Georgetown University Press, 2014).  Adams and Murray (American University) have compiled essays by scholars and former diplomacy practitioners that examine “a growing institutional imbalance at the heart of the foreign policy and national security process.”  The result is manifest excessive reliance on military perspectives, priorities, and instruments that has adverse consequences for America’s global engagement.  Chapters of particular interest include: Charles B. Cushman (Georgetown University), “Congress and the Politics of Defense and Foreign Policymaking;” Brian E. 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;” and Gordon Adams, “Conclusion.”

Caitlin Byrne and Jane Johnston, “Wikipedia: Medium and Model of Collaborative Public Diplomacy,” The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, Volume 10, Issue 4, 2015, 396-419.  In this article, Byrne and Johnston (Bond University) first discuss Wikipedia’s philosophy, organization, and format.  Then, using a variety of examples, they explore ways in which Wikipedia can be a medium of public diplomacy through development and dissemination of knowledge and as online space for finding, developing, and sustaining communal identities and narratives.  They conclude by looking at Wikipedia “as a model of intense, deep collaboration,” “collective agency,” and “symbolic advocacy.”  This unconventional arena of discursive public diplomacy practice, they argue, is organic, beyond the direct authority of the state, and a collaborative environment that governments and diplomats should facilitate and empower.

Sarah Ellen Graham, Culture and Propaganda: The Progressive Origins of American Public Diplomacy, 1936-1953, (Ashgate, 2015).  Graham (University of Sydney) provides a deeply researched account of the origins of US cultural diplomacy, international broadcasting, and informational diplomacy activities.  Her book examines ambivalence and fundamental tensions in official and public debates, organizational and policy issues, and the changing domestic and foreign contexts that shaped outcomes in this “founding phase in the development of US public diplomacy.”  Key chapters address Latin American precedents and wartime expansion of cultural diplomacy, early debates on the Voice of America’s mission (“journalist or diplomat”), the founding of UNESCO, and the evolution of these activities between World War II and the establishment of the US Information Agency at the beginning of the Cold War.  Graham combines an excellent understanding of conceptual issues in public diplomacy with informed analysis of US diplomatic practice during an era that deserves greater attention.

Bruce Gregory, “Mapping Boundaries in Diplomacy’s Public Dimension,” The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, Volume 11, Issue 1, 2016, 25 pages.  Gregory (George Washington University) examines changes in diplomacy’s global environment that challenge traditional categories in diplomacy’s study and practice.  The “foreign” and “domestic” divide is blurred beyond easy recognition.  Public diplomacy is no longer a separate instrument of diplomacy.  The term marginalizes a public dimension that is now central in diplomatic practice.  This article examines four boundaries that both separate and connect: (1) a distinction between diplomacy and foreign policy that benefits diplomacy studies and clarifies choices in practice; (2) a framework for diplomacy’s public dimension that connects types of diplomatic actors with process variables; (3) a separation between diplomacy and civil society that distinguishes diplomacy from other relationships between groups; and (4) characteristics of diplomacy and governance that explain how they differ from other political and social categories.  Diplomatic and governance actors are categorized in trans-governmental and polylateral networks.  Civil society and private sector actors are categorized in cosmopolitan and private governance networks.

Jeet Heer, “Pulp Propaganda,” The New Republic, September 30, 2015, 55-59.  Heer (senior editor, TNR) looks at the US government’s narrative collaboration with cartoonist Roy Crane, creator of the popular Navy pilot Buz Sawyer cartoons read by millions of Americans during the Cold War.  Crane’s papers, archived at Syracuse University, document the role of State Department advisors and US military officers in shaping the cartoonist’s storylines.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali vs. William McCants – contrasting views on Islam, diplomatic strategies, and counterterrorism.  Their succinct arguments make for good side-by-side course readings and class discussion. 

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, “The Problem from Heaven: Why the United States Should Back Islam’s Reformation,” Foreign Affairs, July/August 2015, 36-45.  Hirsi Ali (Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School of Government) argues the US should “start helping the right side win” in “the war of ideas” against “radical Islam.”  Her critique: US officials, public diplomacy practitioners, and international broadcasters have opted out of a debate about Islam’s future.  Her solution: a new strategy, modeled on Cold War methods of USIA and the CIA’s Congress of Cultural Freedom, that uses social media, US broadcasting, incentives for reformers, and support for schools “that act as anti-madrasahs.”

William McCants, “Islamic Scripture Is Not the Problem: And Funding Muslim Reformers Is Not the Solution,” Foreign Affairs, July/August 2015, 46-52.  McCants (Brookings Institution and former State Department advisor on counterterrorism) argues Hirsi Ali’s logic, history, and Cold War analogy are flawed.  Her solution (1) fails to recognize constraints against promoting religious beliefs in US law and political culture, (2) unwisely conflates conservative religious views with using violence, and (3) raises a host of practical problems ranging from funding choices to blowback against US intervention in religious disputes.  There are better ways to achieve more universal freedom and respect for human rights than through religious reform.

Institute for the Study of Diplomacy (ISD), Case Studies, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, September 2015.  Under the leadership of the Institute’s current director, Ambassador (ret.) Barbara Bodine, ISD has updated and launched a new website for its 250 case studies on topics in US diplomatic history.  Developed in cooperation with the Pew Research Center, ISD’s cases are written by senior practitioners and scholars knowledgeable on diplomatic practice.  “They can serve as standalone readings on a specific issue, event or country, a complement to broader theoretical readings, or prompts for simulations and role-plays.”  The new library contains a “Faculty Lounge” with an easily accessed registration process, log-in and password system, a new search engine, revised case summaries, and instructor’s copies provided at no charge.  The cost to students remains $3.50 per case.

Romit Kampf, Ilan Manor, and Elad Segev, “Digital Diplomacy 2.0? A Cross-national Comparison of Public Engagement in Facebook and Twitter,” The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, Volume 10, Issue 4, 2015, 331-362.  In this cross-national comparison of digital diplomacy, Kampf, Manor, and Segev (Tel Aviv University) examine “the extent to which dialogic communication is adopted by foreign ministries in terms of content, media channels and public engagement.”  Based on an analysis of the Twitter and Facebook content of eleven foreign ministries during a period of six weeks, they conclude: (1) “engagement and dialogic communication are rare,” (2) occasional engagement “is quarantined to specific issues,” and (3) most content consists of press releases targeting foreign rather than domestic populations.

John Kerry and Michael Bloomberg, “Remarks with UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change Michael Bloomberg at Our Cities, Our Climate:  A Bloomberg Philanthropies-U.S. Department of State Partnership Working Luncheon,” US Department of State, October 8, 2015.  Kerry and Bloomberg exchange views on the role of cities in addressing climate change at a conference of mayors and city leaders in Washington.  Useful as a short course reading on city diplomacy and the role of foreign ministries in convening and connecting sub-state and civil society actors on a wide range of global issues.

Charles King, “The Decline of International Studies: Why Flying Blind Is Dangerous,” Foreign Affairs, July/August 2015, 88-98.  King (Georgetown University) laments the “gotcha politics” and deep cuts in US government support for education and research in fields that give scholars and students “the linguistic skills, historical sensitivity, and sheer intellectual curiosity to peer deeply into foreign societies.”  Broad competence beyond the exigencies of national security is the price of global engagement.  It is not needed to enable policymakers but rather to imagine unintended consequences, temper ambition, and provide realistic insights into what is historically and culturally possible.

Jan Melissen, “Diplomacy in the Age of Digital Disruption,” Global Media Analysis Services (GMAS), September 8, 2015.  Melissen (Netherlands Institute of International Relations, ‘Clingendael’) summarizes key judgments in a 2015 Clingendael Report by Brian Hocking and Jan Melissen, Diplomacy in the Digital Age.  Defining objectives.  New practices and norms.  Networked diplomacy.  “‘Digital diplomacy’ can best be understood as a shorthand term embracing broader changes in diplomacy that are pre-dating digitalization.”

Jan Melissen and Yul Sohn, eds., Understanding Public Diplomacy in East Asia: Middle Powers in a Troubled Region, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).  Scholars in this collection of essays, compiled by Melissen (Netherlands Institute of International Relations, ‘Clingendael’) and Sohn (Yonsei University, South Korea), examine theory and practice in the public diplomacy strategies of East Asian states.  The editors and their collaborators agree on the value of understanding public diplomacy through East Asian cultural and geopolitical perspectives – and on the value of combining Western and Asian insights.

— Jan Melissen, “Strategic Public Diplomacy in Extended East Asia.”

— Yul Sohn, “Regionalization, Regionalism, and Double-Edged Public Diplomacy in East Asia.”

— Andrew F. Cooper (University of Waterloo, Canada), “Soft Power and the Recalibration of Middle Powers: South Korea as an East Asian Leader and Canada as an Exemplar of the Traditional Model.”

— Kejin Zhao (Tsinghua University, China), “Public Diplomacy, Rising Power, and China’s Strategy in East Asia.”

— Yshihide Soeya (Keio University, Japan), “The Evolution of Japan’s Public Diplomacy: Haunted by Its Past.”

— Sook Jong Lee (SungKyunKwan University, South Korea), “South Korea’s Middle Power Activism and the Retooling of Its Public Diplomacy.”

— Azyumardi Azra (Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University, Indonesia), “Indonesia’s Middle Power Public Diplomacy: Asia and Beyond.”

— Jabin T. Jacob (Institute of Chinese Studies, India), “Thinking East Asia, Acting Local: Constraints, Challenges, and Contradictions in Indian Public Diplomacy.”

— Alexandra Oliver (Lowy Institute for International Policy, Australia) and Russell Trood (Griffith University, Australia), “Public Diplomacy and Australia’s Middle Power Strategy in East Asia”

— Craig Hayden (Foreign Service Institute, U.S. Department of State), “U.S. Public Diplomacy: A Model for Public Diplomacy Strategy in East Asia.”

— Jan Melissen, “Conclusions and Key Points about Public Diplomacy in East Asia.”

Shawn Powers and Michael Jablonski, The Real Cyber War: The Political Economy of Internet Freedom, (University of Illinois Press, 2015).  Powers and Jablonski (Georgia State University) explore “the interrelationship between information technology and social, political, and cultural values inherent in governance.”  Their book is written for two broad audiences:  (1) scholars in cyber technology studies and the role of the Internet in society and (2) practitioners and activists in Internet governance, geopolitics, and human rights.  They conceptualize cyber war as the use of digital networks for a wide variety of overt and covert geopolitical purposes.  In contrast to earlier communication technologies, they argue the Internet “has the potential to be truly global, interoperable, and interactive, thus magnifying its significance.”  Diplomacy scholars and practitioners will find particularly useful their in-depth examination of the State Department’s Internet freedom policies, economic and political motivations of the “freedom to connect doctrine,” Internet governance debates, and issues driven by gaps between the rhetoric of Internet freedom and state practice in a “surveillance society.”

Shawn Powers and Ben O’Laughlin, “The Syrian Data Glut: Rethinking the Role of Information in Conflict,” Media, War, and Conflict, SAGE, 2015, 1-9.  Powers (Georgia State University) and O’Laughlin (University of London) challenge the argument that an abundance of information and the free flow of information are “peace inducing” when political actors are at war.  Greater access to information may reduce misunderstanding, increase trust, and mobilize conflict resolution pressures before conflicts occur.  They also may help to end conflicts.  But as the Syrian case shows, they argue, greater access to information during a conflict “is ineffectual at best . . . and potentially dangerous.”

David Shambaugh, “China’s Soft-Power Push: The Search for Respect,” Foreign Affairs, July/August, 2015, 99-107.  Shambaugh (George Washington University) analyzes President Xi Jinping’s efforts with “serious money,” estimated at $10 billion annually, to “increase China’s soft power, give a good Chinese narrative, and better communicate China’s messages to the world.”  His article looks at China’s State Council Information Office, publishing houses, China Daily, Xinhua, China Central Television (CCTV), China Radio International, advertising in foreign newspapers, Confucius Institutes, some 20,000 scholarships annually for foreign students, programs in sports and culture, educational exchanges, and numerous government and non-governmental conferences (“host diplomacy”).  Shambaugh concludes that despite huge investment and cultural advantages, China faces an uphill battle “so long as its political system denies, rather than enables free human development.”

Dina Smeltz, Ivo Daalder, Karl Friedhoff, and Craig Kafura, America Divided: Political Partisanship and US Foreign Policy, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, September 2015.  Smeltz (a public opinion research expert, formerly with USIA and the Department of State) and her colleagues find that Americans across the political spectrum remain committed to engagement in the world, but on policy issues they are deeply divided, often on party lines.  Specific findings include: (1) concern about Islamic fundamentalism has risen by 15% since 2014; (2) more than 60% rate computer attacks and violent extremists in Iraq and Syria as critical threats; (3) deep partisan differences on immigration, climate change, the Iran nuclear agreement, creation of a Palestinian state, and the regional role of Israel; and (4) Democrats are more likely than Republicans to favor diplomacy, a stronger UN, and economic assistance.  Executive summary.

Michael Reinprecht and Henrietta Levin, Democratization through Public Diplomacy: An Analysis of the European Parliament’s Reaction to the Arab Spring, CPD Perspectives, USC Center for Public Diplomacy, October 2015.  Reinprecht (retired EU official and Austrian diplomat) and Levin (Presidential Management Fellow, US Department of Defense) analyze attempts by the European Parliament (EP) to use public diplomacy “to influence and reinforce some dimensions of the Arab Spring.”  They explore the comparative advantages of the EP as a public diplomacy actor relative to traditional diplomatic actors, and they suggest the EP’s efforts may have “sustained these revolutions longer than would otherwise have been possible.”  They also explore “significant weaknesses” in the EP’s approach to the Arab Spring resulting from “its lack of institutional experience with public diplomacy” and “dogmatic commitment to particular cultural principles.”  Going forward, they recommend that the EP (1) give greater attention to “accepting components of others’ worldview,” (2) do more to incorporate the values of others in future public diplomacy initiatives, and (3) “prioritize precise, achievable projects that leverage” the EP’s strengths.

Francisco Javier Rodriguez Jimenez, Lorenzo Delagado Gomez-Escalonilla, and Nicholas J. Cull, eds., US Public Diplomacy and Democratization in Spain, Selling Democracy?(Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).  Chapters in this volume, compiled by Rodriguez (University of Salamanca), Delgado (Institute de Historia, Madrid), and Cull (University of Southern California) discuss US public diplomacy strategies in Spain during its transition to democracy.

— Nicholas John Cull & Francisco J. Rodríguez, “Introduction: Soft Power, Public Diplomacy And Democratization.”

— Giles Scott-Smith (Roosevelt Study Center In Middelburg) and Ernst Van Der Beugel (University Of Leiden), “U.S. Public Diplomacy And Democracy Promotion In The Cold War, 1950s-1980s.”

— Rosa Pardo (Universidad Nacional De Educación A Distancia-Madrid), “Furthering U.S. Geopolitical Priorities And Dealing With The Iberian Dictatorships.”

— Lorenzo Delgado (Instituto De Historia, Cchs-Csic), “Modernizing A Friendly Tyrant: U.S. Public Diplomacy And Sociopolitical Change In Francoist Spain.”

— Pablo León (Centro Universitario De La Defensa, Zaragoza), “U.S. Public Diplomacy And Democracy Promotion In Authoritarian Spain, 1940s-1970s.”

— Francisco J. Rodríguez, “Culture And National Images: American Studies Vs. Anti-Americanism In Spain.”

— Neal Rosendorf (New Mexico State University), “Spain’s First ‘Re-Branding Effort’ In The Postwar Franco Era.”

— Ambassador Mark Asquino, “U.S. Public Diplomacy And Democratization In Spain: A Practitioner’s View.”

— Lorenzo Delgado, “Conclusion. Consistency And Credibility: Why You Cannot Collaborate With Dictatorships And Sell Democracy.”

US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, 2015 Comprehensive Annual Report on Public Diplomacy and International Broadcasting: Focus on Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Data, September 2015.  This 337-page report, written by the Commission’s executive director Katherine Brown and her colleagues, is intended primarily as a “consolidation of program description and budget data” for US and overseas public diplomacy activities of the Department of State and the international broadcasting activities of the Broadcasting Board of Governors.  Graphics and an extensive index make this an accessible reference document.  An underlying theme of the report is the need to strengthen the efforts of “reform minded leaders in the State Department, BBG, and in Congress” and encourage career professionals to innovate and take risks in using their limited resources.  The Commission’s recommendations focus on the need for more research and evaluation, expanding State’s Office of Policy Planning and Resources (R/PPR), accessibility of American spaces, professional development of diplomacy and broadcasting professionals, countering violent extremism, countering negative Russian influence, and young leaders initiatives.  Its recommendations are summarized at pp. 24-33 and discussed throughout the report.

For a useful assessment and brief overview of the role of the Commission and its report, see Lynne Weil, “US Soft Power,” The Hill, September 28, 2015.

Recent Blogs and Other Items of Interest

Anonymous Academic, “Academics Are Being Hoodwinked Into Writing Books Nobody Can Buy,” September 4, 2015, The Guardian.

Martha Bayles, “How the World Perceives the New American Dream, And Why Today’s Dream Doesn’t Export As Well As the Original,” October 10, 2015, The Atlantic.

Derek Bolton, “The Case for Embracing Subnational Identities in PD,” October 7, 2015, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, CPD Blog.

Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), “RT at 10 – So Much Spent, So Little to Show For It,” October 6, 2015, BBG Strategy.

Robin Brown, “Twenty Years of Digital Diplomacy: Part 2,” October 23, 2015; “Twenty Years of Digital Diplomacy: Part I;” October 10, 2015; “National Public Diplomacy . . . Systems, Machines, Assemblages, Fields . . . .?” September 18, 2015, Public Diplomacy, Networks and Influence Blog.

Daryl Copeland, “Rebuilding Canada: Science & Diplomacy After the Decade of Darkness,” October 23, 2015, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, CPD Blog.

Thomas L. Friedman, “Walls, Borders, Domes, and Refugees,” September 9, 2015, The New York Times.

Ilan Manor, “Israel and Palestine: A Dialogue of the Deaf,” October 19, 2015, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, CPD Blog.

Thomas Miller, “Balancing Relations Based and Policy Based PD Programming,” October 26, 2015, GWU Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication, Take Five Blog.

James Pamment, “Sustainable Development Goals: the PD Opportunity of a Generation,” September 9, 2015, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, CPD Blog.

Adam Powell III, “Commentary: Democracy Is Not Just Another Ideology; Freedom Is Not Just Another Point of View,” October 8, 2015, Public Diplomacy Council.

Gary Rawnsley, “The BBC: at a Credibility Crossroads,” with a reply to comments by Kim Andrew Elliott, September 10, 2015, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, CPD Blog.

Philip Seib, “Fighting the Information War,” September 29, 2015, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, CPD Blog.

Richard Stengel, “Empowering Global Voices Against Extremism,” September 29, 2015, Department of State, Dipnote blog.

David Talbot, “Fighting ISIS Online,” September 30, 2015, MIT Technology Review.

Garry Trudeau, “Doonesbury,” September 6, 2015, gocomics.com.

Matthew Wallin, “Winning the Social Media War Against ISIS,” October 1, 2015, American Security Project website.

Katie Zavadski, “Putin’s Propaganda TV Lies About Its Popularity,” September 17, 2015, The Daily Beast.

Gem From The Past

James H. Merrill, Into the American Woods: Negotiators on the Pennsylvania Frontier, (W. W. Norton & Company, 1999).  This brilliant book by Bancroft Prize winning historian James Merrill (Vasser College) stands out in the large and growing literature on diplomacy between Europeans and indigenous Americans in the 17th and 18th centuries.  Merrill calls them “go-betweens” – his phrase for the many names given to these negotiators – “agent, messenger, ambassador, Mr. Interpreter, Manager, Province Interpreter, mediator, ne horrichwisax n’donasit, friend, a person to do Indian Business, thuwawoenachqata, Anhuktonheet, Guardian of all the Indians, a person to go between Us.”  His case study of the Pennsylvania frontier, emblematic of the broader frontier experience, explores the “eclectic jumble of skills and media” used by English, French, and Native Americans and provides numerous insights into the public dimension that was central to their diplomacy.  Diplomacy scholars and practitioners will find value in Merrill’s account for an understanding of today’s issues: deep comprehension of others, communication in low context and high context cultures, the diplomatic roles of sub-state actors, and relational and messaging models of public diplomacy.

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, the Public Diplomacy Council, and MountainRunner.us.