Diplomacy’s Public Dimension: Books, Articles, Websites #83

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

Jon Lee Anderson, “The Cuba Play: President Obama’s Plan Normalized Relations. Can it Also Transform the Nation?” The New Yorker, October 3, 2016, 42-53.  New Yorker staff writer Anderson looks at turning points in negotiations leading to the US opening to Cuba in 2015, views of US and Cuban officials, and thoughts of citizens in both countries as to where it might lead.  His article draws heavily on interviews with President Barack Obama and Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes in which they seek to shape a legacy narrative on US Cuba policy.  Obama’s comments include reflections on the importance of public opinion, national memories and culture, and practical foreign policy advantages of examining where Americans have been right and wrong.  “One of the things that you can’t always measure but I’m absolutely confident is true,” Anderson quotes Obama as saying, “is that world opinion matters.  It is a force multiplier.”

Timothy Garten Ash, Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World, (Yale University Press, 2016).  Ash (University of Oxford) makes a case for free speech norms that enable and restrict global freedom of expression in a connected world he calls “cosmopolis.”  In Part I, he paints a vivid picture of how digital technologies enable large and small actors to both amplify expressions of hate with fatal effect and enable reasoned discourse.  He follows this with reflections on ideals that can further meaningful trans-cultural conversations about why, how, and in what contexts speech should be free.  In Part II, Ash uses examples and nuanced argument in support of ten principles that distill liberal ideas informed by Isaiah Berlin’s value pluralism: there are multiple, genuine values that are not all reconcilable.  Chapters focus on free speech in the context of violence, the spread of knowledge, journalism, diversity, religion, privacy, secrecy, and illegitimate uses of the Internet.  Cases include the “Innocence of Muslims” video, the Charlie Hebdo attacks, religion and free speech, group polarization on social media, speech norms in Internet governance, guidelines for understanding hate speech, propaganda for war, tolerance, and the relevance of John Rawls and Jurgen Habermas to thinking about international exchanges.  The book draws on Oxford University’s thirteen-language online project http://freespeechdebate.com.  This interactive website summarizes Ash’s ten principles and provides informed comment on trending free speech issues.

Jennifer Cassidy and Ilan Manor, “Crafting Strategic MFA Communication Policies During Times of Political Crisis: A Note to MFA Policy Makers,” Global Affairs, DOI: 10, published online November 3, 2016.  Cassidy and Manor (Oxford University) devote much of their thoughtful, well-researched article to a critique of what they call hyperbolic discourse – by which they mean “myths” about what ministries of foreign affairs (MFAs) and other diplomatic actors are doing with digital technologies in crisis situations.  (1) News organizations and foreign ministries do not typically follow diplomats and other foreign ministries online if they have not built relationships with them before or during a crisis.  (2) Belief that social media create increasingly direct dialogue between official actors and publics is offset by the reality that online embassies do not engage regularly in government to peer dialogue.  (3) Crisis driven foreign ministry social media campaigns that create unique images, logos, and hashtags are constrained by the hard work needed to attract users and the possibility they will draw attention away from the ministry’s established social media platforms.  (4) Assumptions that MFAs “should have total real-time communicative control over all digital platforms” are offset by strategic advantages of a division of labor.  MFAs should remain primary actors in intelligence gathering, policy analysis, and whole of government coordination. Embassies and diplomats on the ground should take primary control of disseminating crisis communication online.  Cassidy and Manor assess the implications of these arguments and offer recommendations for ways to improve embassy and MFA communication in crisis situations.

Narren Chitty, Li Ji, Gary Rawnsley, and Craig Hayden, eds., The Routledge Handbook  of Soft Power, (Routledge, 2016).  Chitty and Li Ji (Macquarie University, Australia), Rawnsley (Aberystwyth University, UK) and Hayden (US Department of State) have compiled a comprehensive (487 pages) collection of essays by leading scholars in what will be a “go to” reference work on soft power for many years.

In his introduction, Chitty summarizes four theoretical sections in Part I.

  • (1) Chapters by Chitty, Robin Brown (Archetti Brown Associates Limited), Fei Jiang (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing), and Efe Sevin (Kadir Has University, Istanbul) discuss soft and hard power in the context of world politics.
  • (2) Chapters by Li Ji, Elif Kahraman (Istanbul Arel University), Richard Davis (University of Sydney) and Li Ji, and Ying Jiang (University of Adelaide, Australia) relate hard and soft power to positive and post-positive approaches to international relations.
  • (3) Chapters by Jacob Udo-Udo Jacob (American University of Nigeria), Peichi Chung (Chinese University of Hong Kong), Saba Bebawi (University of Technology Sydney), Zhipeng He (Jilin University, China), and John Simons (Macquarie University) examine moral constructions of soft power, whether soft power and public diplomacy overlap or are interchangeable, and definitions of public diplomacy and subsets of cultural and civil diplomacy.
  • (4) Chapters by Craig Hayden, Marie Gillespie (The Open University, UK) and Eva Nieto Mcwoy (University of London), and Matthew O. Adeiza and Philip N. Howard (University of Washington) analyze soft power’s passive and active forms.

Part II compiles 20 case studies with unusual geographic breadth arranged by geographic region.

  • Europe and the Americas:  Katarzyna Piarska (European Academy of Diplomacy), Yuji Gushiken, Quise Goncalves Brito and Tais Marie Ueta (Federal University of Mato Grosso, Brazil), Xavier Ginesta, Mireia Canals, and Jordi de San Eugenio (La Universitat de Vic – Universitat Central de Catalunya, Spain), Falk Hartig (Goethe Universitat, Frankfurt), Madgalena Bielenia-Grajewska (University of Gdansk, Poland), and Esmaeil Esfandiary (Georgia State University).
  • Africa and the Middle East: Aziz Douai (University of Ontario), P. Eric Louw (University of Queensland, Australia), Tokumbo Ojo (York University, Toronto), and Laced Zaghami (Algiers University).
  • Central and South Asia: Dalbir Ahlawat (Macquarie University), Yelena Osipova (American University), C. S. H. N. Murthy (Tezpur University, India), Bunty Avieson (University of Sydney) and Kinley Tshering (University of Canberra), and Kishan S. Rana (DiploFoundation, Malta and Geneva).
  • North and South-east Asia: Damien Spry (Hanyang University, South Korea), Yasushi Watanabe (Keio University, Japan), Hun Shik Kim (University of Colorado, Boulder),  Gary Rawnsley and Chi Ngac (Hagar International, Vietnam Office), and Murray Green (Macquarie University).

The Routledge Handbook of Soft Power is an impressive resource.  It is expensive.  Discounted copies are available through Amazon.  Some pages are viewable online.

Nigel Cliff, Moscow Nights: The Van Cliburn Story – How One Man and His Piano Transformed the Cold War, (HarperCollins Publishers, 2016).  This is British historian and biographer Nigel Cliff’s account of how Van Cliburn, a 23-year old Texas prodigy, improbably won the Soviet Union’s first International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958.  In contrast to earlier works, which focused more on his music, Cliff explores what his achievement meant in the context of diplomacy during the early Cold War – years in which the US and Soviets were competing in the arts as well as in space, armaments, and geopolitics.  Cliff’s subtitle may overstate, but his narrative is a well-written case study of American soft power.

Thomas L. Friedman, Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations, (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016).  New York Times columnist Tom Friedman’s seventh book is really three effectively integrated books.  In the first, he explores simultaneous and interconnected accelerations in technology, globalization, and climate change.  His argument: it is the accelerated rate of change, not just the speed of change, that is exceeding our capacity to learn, train, manage, govern, and make ethical choices in ways that gain from these forces and cushion their adverse impacts.  In the second, he offers a variety of imaginative ideas about how we must adapt in the workplace, geopolitics, politics, ethics, and community building.  In the third, we find a reflective and introspective Friedman.  “Being late” is about taking time to think about possibilities and dangers.  His closing chapters take him to his roots in Minnesota, thoughts about values, and concerns about how communities can create the trust needed to anchor diverse populations in the eye of the hurricane.  Friedman combines his characteristic wit, optimism, and rhetorical skills with penetrating analysis.

Jessica Gienow-Hecht and Carolin Viktorin, “Gienow-Hecht and Viktorin on Jimenez and Gomez-Escalonilla and Cull, ‘US Public Diplomacy and Democratization in Spain: Selling Democracy?” H-Diplo, December 2016.  Gienow-Hecht and Viktorin (Freie Universitat Berlin) have written a thoughtful and positive review of US Public Diplomacy and Democratization in Spain: Selling Democracy?(Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), a collection of essays compiled by Francisco Javier Rodriguez Jimenez (University of Salamanca), Lorenzo Delgado Gomez-Escalonilla (Center for Human and Social Sciences, Madrid), and Nicholas J. Cull (University of Southern California).  The reviewers place the book in the context of Spain’s “slippery status” in Cold War historiography and frame its focus on a central question: did US public diplomacy in Spain serve democratization or simply mask US military strategy?  Their review discusses a lead conceptual chapter by Giles Scott-Smith (University of Leiden) on US public diplomacy and democratization after World War II.  Other chapters examine aspects of US-Spanish cultural relations.  A chapter by Mark Asquino, a retired US Foreign Service Officer and former Fulbright lecturer, argues that US public diplomacy enhanced democracy.  Gomez-Escalonilla’s closing chapter summarizes the volume’s variety of perspectives and concludes that US diplomacy in the region was ambiguous leaving open the question whether states can “collaborate with dictatorships and sell democracy at the same time.”  (Courtesy of Donna Oglesby)

 Susan J. Henders and Mary M. Young, guest editors, “‘Other Diplomacies’ of Non-State Actors: The Case of Canadian-Asian Relations,” The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, Vol. 11, No. 4, 2016, 331-350.  In this special HJD issue, Henders and Young (York University, Toronto) explore concepts and practice in the diplomacy of non-state actors.  Their lead article discusses the concept of “other diplomacies” and recent literature on diplomacy and the diplomatic activities of non-state actors.  Their goal is to analyze practices that give diplomatic character to activities of non-state actors that create tension with states, that are collaborative with states, or that simply co-exist with state diplomacy.  The authors give particular attention to the ways “other diplomacies” can deepen understanding of public diplomacy and track II diplomacy, provide insights on diplomacy outside the Euro-American world, and extend discussion on what gives non-state actors diplomatic agency.  Articles include:

  • — Young and Henders, “‘Other Diplomacies’ and World Order: Historical Insights from Canadian-Asian Relations”
  • — Serge Granger (Sherbrook University, Canada), “‘Other Diplomacy’ in Paradiplomacy: Quebec’s Cinema and China”
  • — Jean Michael Montsion (York University), “Diplomacy as Self-Representation: British Columbia’s First Nations and China”
  • — Randolph Mank (Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Singapore), “Reflections on the Role of Non-state Actors in Canadian-Asian Relations”

Intercultural Dialogue and Innovations in Diplomacy and Diplomatic Training, Diplomatic Academy Proceedings, Dubrovnik Diplomatic Forum, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Republic of Croatia, ISSN 1334-7659, Vol. 10, No. 1, 2016.  Edited by Mladen Andrlić, Tihana Bohač, and Stjepan Špoljarić, the papers in this collection were presented by scholars and practitioners at three international conferences, held under sponsorship of the Central European Initiative: “EU and Its Neighbours: Prospects and Challenges” (June 2-4, 2011); “Diplomacy and Intercultural Dialogue” (May 24-26, 2012); and “Innovations and Changing Roles of Diplomacy and Diplomatic Training” (May 23-25, 2013).

Mark Lilla, The Shipwrecked Mind: On Political Reaction, (New York Review Books, 2016).  This is not a book about diplomacy.  It provides insights into diplomacy’s modern context.  Lilla (Columbia University) begins by asking, “What is reaction?”  He answers in this slim volume of essays with the argument that reactionaries are not conservatives.  “They are, in their own way, just as radical as revolutionaries and just as firmly in the grip of historical imaginings.”  He supports his assertion with meditations on examples of nostalgia in thought (Eric Vogelin, Leo Strauss), contemporary intellectual movements (“theocons” on the American right, Europe’s rightwing cultural pessimists, apocalyptic ecologists and anti-globalists on the left), and political nostalgia (the terrorism of French born jihadists in Paris in 2015, intellectuals who viewed the attacks as evidence of French decline and Europe’s inability to respond to “magical thinking” about history).  In the reactionary mind, Lilla finds belief in the betrayal of elites, an idealized past, an apocalyptic fear of historic catastrophe, and a militant sense of mission.

Jan Melissen and Matthew Caesar-Gordon, “‘Digital Diplomacy’ and the Securing of Nationals in a Citizen-Centric World,” Global Affairs, DOI 10: published online October 21, 2016.  Melissen (Netherlands Institute of International Relations, Clingendael, University of Antwerp) and independent scholar Caesar-Gordon explore central issues in how ministries of foreign affairs (MFAs) are adapting to the “digital shift” in what has become a dominant priority in their contact with publics — consular assistance to their nationals abroad.  Their thought provoking assessment divides into four areas of inquiry: (1) how MFAs, resistant to technological innovation, are coping with rising citizen demand for assistance in an online world; (2) ways in which lack of capacity, insufficient reliable data, and a more networked “duty of care” foster collaboration with the non-governmental sector; (3) how growing MFA uses of social media and digital tools, driven by citizens, make consular services more dependent on citizen participation; and (4) general observations that citizens abroad should take greater responsibility for their security and on how digitization is changing relations between MFAs and domestic society in the context of broader societal trends.  Although their article focuses on MFA’s and their own nationals abroad, its implications are broader: to what extent do MFAs have an appropriate networked “duty of care” for neighbors and strangers in a world where the UN Refugee Agency records some 65.3 million people are displaced by conflict and persecution?

Walter R. Roberts, The Compleat Public Diplomat, (Kindle Edition, 2016).  This collection of articles and reflections by a leading scholar and practitioner of US public diplomacy was edited by Barry Fulton, Chair of the Walter Roberts Endowment at George Washington University’s Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication.  It was published on the 100th anniversary of Roberts’ birth.  The collection includes articles by Roberts on the evolution of diplomacy, his perceptive 1994 speech on public diplomacy entering the Internet age at the UK’s Royal Academy of International Affairs, essays on US international broadcasting, articles on Roberts’ roots and emigration from Austria, and his recollections on Yugoslavia’s Tito.  The collection also includes a forward by General Brent Scowcroft, reflections by US Ambassador Jock Shirley, and an afterword by Barry Fulton. 

Jerome Sherman and James Lawrence, “Fulbright Program at 70: The Foreign Service Connection,” The Foreign Service Journal, November 2016, 20-27.  Career State Department diplomats Sherman and Lawrence celebrate the achievements of the US government’s best-known educational exchange program and profile how it has adapted to change.  Today, for example, 30 percent of its awards are in scientific fields.  Fulbright’s largest programs are in Pakistan, China, India, and Mexico.  New program models focus on transnational issues (migration, climate change).  Their article concludes with personal stories by five Fulbright alumni who became US Foreign Service Officers.

Anne-Marie Slaughter, “How to Succeed in the Networked World: A Grand Strategy for the Digital Age,” Foreign Affairs, November/December 2016, 76-89.   Recent presidential elections have been occasions for Anne-Marie Slaughter (President and CEO of the think tank New America) to offer thoughts on what the world looks like and what the next US president should do.  (See “A Grand Strategy of Network Centrality,” CNAS, 2012; “America’s Edge: Power in the Networked Century,” Foreign Affairs, January/February, 2009.)  In this article Slaughter outlines a grand strategy that integrates “statecraft with webcraft” for a new world of web actors – a strategy for leaders and diplomats to pursue “American interests and values” by creating and managing networks, not for competing with states on a geopolitical chessboard.  “The next U.S. president,” Slaughter argues, “should adopt a grand strategy of building and maintaining an open international order based on three pillars: open societies, open governments, and an open international system.”  Her thinking makes an interesting case for a new strategic fault line “between open and closed.”  But in arguing that states remain “principal actors” on a range of issues and that Americans must “also pursue the universal values that define the United States,” she prompts a host of questions.  What are the operational implications and cost/risk tradeoffs of her “grand strategy?”  Which US values are “universal” and what does pursuing them mean for diplomacy?  Are “micro-strategies” preferable in environments defined by unexpected contingencies, greater complexity, and what multiple networked actors unexpectedly do?  Perhaps she will address these and other issues in her forthcoming book, The Chessboard and the Web: Strategies of Connection in a Networked World (Yale University Press, 2017).


Recent Blogs and Other Items of Interest

Matthew Armstrong, “A Revealing Fight with Russia’s RT at the State Department,” November 21, 2016, War on the Rocks blog.

Robin Brown, “The Nicolson Gap,” October 25, 2016; “NATO Strategic Communications in Afghanistan,” October 24, 2016, Public Diplomacy, Networks and Influence Blog.

Emily Bowman, “When Public Diplomacy is a Bad Joke: The Importance of In-groups and Out-groups to the Successful Use of Humor By Diplomats,” December 1, 2016, Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication, GWU, Take Five Blog.

Jill Dougherty, “The Reality Behind Russia’s Fake News,” December 2, 2016, CNN Politics.

Elizabeth Gerke, “Public Diplomacy Social Media Techniques and Audience Targeting,” December 5, 2016, Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication, GWU, Take Five Blog.

David Ignatius, “The Truth is Losing,” November 29, 2016, The Washington Post.

Mark Leonard, “Europe, Alone in Trump’s World,” November 9, 2016, Project Syndicate.

Ilan Manor, “Digital Rights: A New Diplomatic Agenda,” USC Center for Public Diplomacy, CPD Blog.

James McAuley and Andrew Roth, “Russia Deploys ‘Cultural Diplomacy’ in France,” October 22, 2016, The Washington Post.

Joseph S. Nye, Jr., “Donald Trump’s Foreign Policy Challenges,” November 9, 2016, Project Syndicate.

Adam Powell, “Explaining Donald Trump to the World,” Remarks at the Broadcasting Board of Governors Public Board Meeting, November 30, 2016;  “BBG Oversight of U.S. International Broadcasting Would End Under New Legislation,” November 30, 2016, Public Diplomacy Council.

Philip Seib, “Public Diplomacy in the Trump Era,” November 13, 2016, The World Post; “The Public Diplomacy Challenge Ahead,” November 14, 2016, USC Center for Public Diplomacy, CPD Blog.

Domano Spero, “FBI to Veteran Diplomat Robin Raphel: ‘Do You Know Any Foreigners?’ #criminalizingdiplomacy,” December 2, 2016, Diplopundit.

Shashi Tharoor, “The End of US Soft Power,” November 11, 2016, Project Syndicate.

Craig Timberg, “Effort to Combat Foreign Propaganda Advances in Congress,” November 30, 2016, The Washington Post.

“What’s Next? With ASP Fellow for Public Diplomacy Mathew Wallin,” Podcast interview by Maggie Feldman-Pilch, November 29, 2016, American Security Project.


Gems From The Past 

Harry G. Frankfurt, On Bullshit (Princeton University Press, 2005) and On Truth (Alfred A. Knopf, 2006).  These famous small books by Princeton philosopher Harry G. Frankfurt take on new salience in current debates about “post-truth politics” and “fake-news.”  In his On Bullshit, Frankfurt distinguishes between lies, which seek intentionally to deceive with knowledge of what is true, and bullshit, which “is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false.”  Bullshitters, Frankfurt argues, are more or less indifferent to facts and what is true or false.  “Instead, and most essentially, they are fakers and phonies who are attempting by what they say to manipulate the opinions and the attitudes of those to whom they speak.”  Their threat is more insidious than lying.  In On Truth, Frankfurt worries about complacency and the dangers of indifference to the importance of truth.  His concern is not about our efforts and experiences in finding truth, but on why it is worth caring about.


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, the Public Diplomacy Council, and MountainRunner.us.