Diplomacy’s Public Dimension: Books, Articles, Websites #84

February 1, 2017

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
Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication
George Washington University

Robert Albro, “Diplomacy and the Efficacy of Transnational Applied Cultural Networks,” Chapter 6, 121-143, in Deborah L. Trent, ed., Nontraditional U.S. Public Diplomacy: Past, Present, and Future, (Public Diplomacy Council, 2016).  Albro (American University) examines effects and potential benefits for public diplomacy of recent varieties of collaborative diplomacy – understood as policy-focused cultural networks that give attention to cultural content in achieving humanitarian goals.  He argues this collaborative diplomacy turn, driven increasingly by interconnected geopolitical problems, tends to emphasize trust building, cooperation on shared objectives and values, interagency partnerships, association with cultural networks, collaborative story telling, and co-creation of cultural knowledge.  Abro’s ideas and examples update a series of posts available on his Public Policy Anthropologist blog site.  His posts are a source of instructive readings for students on cultural diplomacy topics.

Jieun Baek, “The Opening of the North Korean Mind: Pyongyang Versus the Digital Underground,” Foreign Affairs, January/February, 2017, 104-113.  Baek (Belfer Center, Harvard University) profiles media smuggling operations in North Korea’s gray and black markets that, despite threats of harsh punishment, have created “a surprisingly robust network that links ordinary citizens to the outside world through contraband cell phones, laptops, tablet computers, and data drives.”  She argues growing citizen awareness, especially among young people, is not a danger to Kim Jong Un in the short-term, but this “digital underground might represent a long-term existential threat.”  Support by governments and NGOs for the flow of digital technologies, outside media, and cultural products, Baek concludes, may be the most sustainable and cost-effective way to encourage change from within.  The essay is adapted from her book, North Korea’s Hidden Revolution: How the Information Underground is Transforming a Closed Society (Yale University Press, 2016).

Katherine A. Brown, Shannon N. Green, and Jian “Jay” Wang, Public Diplomacy and National Security in 2017: Building Alliances, Fighting Extremism, and Dispelling Disinformation, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington, DC, January 2017.  In this well-organized 17-page paper, Brown (Council on Foreign Relations), Green (CSIS), and Wang (USC Center on Public Diplomacy) seek to map a public diplomacy course for the Trump administration grounded on their understanding of PD and lessons learned “in applying PD tools” – primarily those used by “a sound public diplomacy apparatus at the U.S. Department of State” during the Obama administration.  The authors summarize successes, challenges, and recommendations in three broad areas: strengthening networks with citizens abroad, weakening violent extremism, and dispelling disinformation by state actors.  Their paper knowledgeably discusses important developments within the State Department, but its narrow focus does not include the roles of the Obama White House and numerous other government and non-government actors in the public dimension of US diplomacy.  The paper emphasizes two categories of threat and provides an informed assessment of PD in each, but it leaves unaddressed a broad array of other critically important transnational issues of diplomatic concern.

Robin Brown, “Public Diplomacy, Networks, and the Limits of Strategic Narratives,” Chapter 7, pp. 164-189, in Alister Miskimmon, Ben O’Loughlin, and Laura Roselle, eds., Forging the World: Strategic Narratives and International Relations, (University of Michigan Press, 2017).  Brown (Archetti Brown Associates) uses conceptual arguments and cases from public diplomacy practice to examine claims made by strategic narrative theorists (see Miskimmon et al., Forging the World below).  He begins by discussing the problem of including public diplomacy in theoretical frameworks of international relations – a discourse in the chapter that has considerable value on its own.  He then turns to the relevance of relational sociology in understanding the intersection of narratives and networks.  Brown applies his reasoning to three cases: attempts to influence a neutral United States to enter World War I, Russia’s efforts to influence Western policies on Ukraine, and information activities of the Islamic State.  He concludes that narratives must be understood in the context of the networks that carry them, external events, and competing narratives; that successful narrative projection is difficult to achieve; and that new communication technologies are unlikely to change this.

Conference Report to Accompany S. 2943, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, US House of Representatives, November 2016, (scroll down to pp. 1396-1421).  The Conference Report summarizes purposes and functions of a Global Engagement Center in the Department of State as authorized by Section 1287, pp. 1396-1404, of the Defense Authorization Act enacted in December 2016.  The Secretary of State in coordination with the Secretary of Defense and the heads of other relevant departments and agencies shall establish the Center “to lead, synchronize, and coordinate efforts of the Federal Government to recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests.”

In Section 1288, pp. 1404-1421, the Conference Report summarizes structural reforms of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which will continue to exist as the federal agency that operates US international broadcasting.  The Defense Authorization Act authorizes a Chief Executive Officer to head the BBG – thereby assuming management responsibilities previously carried out by the BBG’s Board of Governors – and establishes an International Broadcasting Advisory Board to advise the BBG’s CEO.

“Statement by the President on Signing the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 2017,” December 23, 2016.  In his signing statement, President Obama expressed strong support for the Act’s structural reforms of the BBG and its retention of the longstanding firewall intended to protect the credibility and professional independence of the BBG’s broadcasters.  The President also voiced support for elevating the current CEO to head the BBG, but he observed that the manner of transition raises constitutional concerns related to his “appointments and removal authority.”  He promised a plan to mitigate constitutional concerns while “adhering closely to the Congress’s intent.”

Keir Giles, “Handbook of Russian Information Warfare,” Research Division, NATO Defense College, November 2016.  In this 77-page monograph, Giles (Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House) “provides an introductory guide to the Russian concept of information warfare, including elements of cyber warfare” for NATO soldiers and officials.  Its sections cover concepts and terminology, Russia’s goals and objectives, lessons from the history of Russia’s approach, and possible future challenges.  As Giles explains, “Two themes occur throughout the handbook: the waging of information warfare during notional peacetime; and the holistic, all-encompassing nature of the ‘information’ that is both the subject and the medium of the conflict.”

Katherine Grandjean, American Passage: The Communications Frontier in Early New England, (Harvard University Press, 2015).  At a time when mapping boundaries (foreign/domestic, diplomacy/governance/civil society, public/private) increasingly challenges scholars and practitioners, new historical research offers insights that link modern perspectives with past eras of disordered communication and inter-cultural connections between groups.  Grandjean (Wellesley College) examines a tangle of news, rumor, and diplomacy among scattered actors in 17th century New England – English, French, and Dutch colonists, Mohawk, Iroquois, Pequot, Narragansett, and other indigenous peoples.  Her well-researched story is about a “communications frontier” during the century before a postal service and the first regular newspapers (1704).  Colonial travelers, native messengers, couriers, soldiers, and sailors created webs of connections that bridged early encounters and subsequent diplomatic negotiations that structured the power relations that led to eventual English control of the region.  Borrowing from Harvard historian Jill Lepore, Grandjean focuses on the question, “Does the walking trail, perhaps, tell as much as the fence?”

Craig Hayden, “International Education and Public Diplomacy: Technology, MOOCS, and Transforming Engagement, Chapter 10, 219-246, in Deborah L. Trent, ed., Nontraditional U.S. Public Diplomacy: Past, Present, and Future, (Public Diplomacy Council, 2016).  Hayden (Department of State, American University) brings a scholar’s insights to ways in which the State Department’s use of technology platforms for educational and cultural diplomacy lead to new forms of public diplomacy practice and strategy.  His chapter briefly examines concepts of public diplomacy and soft power, ways in which media studies and communication theory are changing institutional norms and practices surrounding public diplomacy, and aspects of US educational exchange programs (e.g., the State Department “Collaboratory” unit’s MOOC Camp Initiative and Google Hangout pilot programs) that provide opportunities and challenges for practitioners.  Hayden demonstrates “how some logics of public diplomacy are transformed by the material context of technology, while others endure.”

Alister Miskimmon, Ben O’Loughlin, and Laura Roselle, eds., Forging the World: Strategic Narratives and International Relations, (University of Michigan Press, 2017).  Essays by prominent IR and communications scholars in this important new book, edited by Miskimmon and O’Loughlin (both University of London) and Roselle (Duke University), examine cutting edge issues in the use of strategic narratives by political actors.  Strategic narratives, they explain, are means by which a wide variety of state and non-state actors seek to construct shared meanings of the past, present, and future that “promote their interests, values, and expectations” and “shape the behavior of domestic and international actors.”  Early chapters provide a theoretical framework and give particular attention to methods, ethics, and identity.  The following chapters contain empirical case studies.  The book bridges scholarship and practice and builds on the editors’ earlier volume, Strategic Narratives: Communication Power and the New World Order (2013).

— Alister Miskimmon, Ben O’Loughlin, and Laura Roselle, “Introduction”

— Ben O’Loughlin with Alister Miskimmon and Laura Roselle, “Strategic Narratives: Methods and Ethics”

— Laura Roselle, “Strategic Narratives and Great Power Identity”

— Alister Miskimmon, “Finding a Unified Voice? The European Union Through a Strategic Narrative Lens”

— Ning Liao (New Jersey City University), “The Power of Strategic Narratives: The Communicative Dynamics of Strategic Nationalism and Foreign Relations”

— J. P. Singh (University of Edinburgh), “Beyond Neoliberalism: Contested Narratives of International Development”

— Robin Brown (Archetti Brown Associates), “Public Diplomacy, Networks, and the Limits of Strategic Narratives”

— Amelia Arsenault (Georgia State University), Sun-ha Hong (University of Pennsylvania), and Monroe Price (University of Pennsylvania), “Strategic Narratives of the Arab Spring and After”

— Christina Archetti (University of Oslo), “Narrative Wars: Understanding Terrorism in the Era of Global Connectedness”

— Ben O’Loughlin, “Filling the Narrative Vacuum in a Global Crisis: Japan’s Triple Disaster”

— Alister Miskimmon and Ben O’Loughlin, “Understanding International Order and Power Transition: A Strategic Narrative Approach”

— Alister Miskimmon, Ben O’Loughlin, and Laura Roselle, “Conclusions”

Donna Marie Oglesby, “Sowing the Seeds of Diplomacy on Hard American Ground,” The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, available online December 2016.

Oglesby (Eckerd College) examines how diplomacy in US higher education is taught, shaped, and constrained by the social context of those who teach.  She makes several key arguments.  Because the main institutions of American society do not support diplomacy as a profession or field of study, demand for diplomacy teachers and courses is weak in American higher education.  Scholars and practitioners who teach have different life experiences and social contexts that make circulation of ideas between the two communities rare.  Teachers make very different choices in course content and teaching methods.  Oglesby draws on in-depth interviews, a comparative survey of 75 course syllabi, and a literature review that includes IR, security studies, political philosophy, social psychology, teaching and learning.  Her trademark gardening metaphors illuminate her reasoning.  The article raises challenging questions that ought to inform discourse within universities, between foreign ministries and universities seeking mutually advantageous connections, in the International Studies Association and other scholarly communities — and in the thinking of all who support the growth of diplomacy studies as an academic field.

James Pamment, British Public Diplomacy & Soft Power: Diplomatic Influence & Digital Disruption, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).  Pamment (Lund University) explores ways in which numerous reform studies and the work of practitioners during the past twenty years have shaped changes in British diplomatic practice.  His central argument is that digital technologies and broader public participation in foreign affairs have led to profound changes in the work of the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), British Council, and BBC World Service – a “re-imagining of British diplomacy.”  Chapters include assessments of the reform studies and their impact, case studies of strategic campaigns, and analysis of ways in which changes in practice reflect varied and changing conceptual understandings of public diplomacy, soft power, engagement, strategic campaigns, image, identity, and cultural relations.  Pamment’s important book has value for scholars and practitioners, not only for its knowledgeable investigation of the British case, but also for his thinking on broader implications for understanding ways in which public diplomacy is now at “the very core of diplomatic practice.”  His research also calls to mind that for many years in the 20th century the UK and the US held biannual meetings between senior practitioners, alternately in London and Washington, on public diplomacy’s tools and methods – a practice that would have value if reinstated today.  For an online interview with Pamment on the book’s themes, see The Place Brand Observer, October 27, 2016.

“Public Diplomacy and National Security Lessons Learned for the Next Administration,” Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), January 17, 2017, video, approximately 90 minutes.  CSIS’s Human Rights Initiative and USC’s Center on Public Diplomacy hosted a conversation with Benjamin K. Rhodes,  Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speech Writing and James K. Glassman, former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, moderated by Michael Crowley, Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent for Politico.  Before the conversation, Katherine Brown and Jay Wang summarized recommendations in their CSIS/USC report Public Diplomacy and National Security in 2017: Building Alliances, Fighting Extremism, and Dispelling Disinformation (see annotation above).  Ambassador D. Bruce Wharton, Acting Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, delivered closing remarks.

William Rugh, “American Soft Power and Public Diplomacy in the Arab World,” Palgrave Communications, published online January 10, 2017.  Rugh (Northeastern University) draws on his interpretations of US public diplomacy practice and Joseph Nye’s concept of soft power in this assessment of the impact of both in the Arab world.  Issues discussed include the impact of the digital revolution, private dissemination of American cultural products, whether others still view the US political system as a model, underfunded exchange of persons activities, and a Defense Department “mission creep” that competes with the State Department’s public diplomacy.  The strength of the essay lies primarily in his understanding of the Arab world based on decades of service as a career diplomat in the region.

Deborah L. Trent, ed., Nontraditional U.S. Public Diplomacy: Past, Present, and Future, (Public Diplomacy Council, 2016).  This is a diverse compilation of case studies of US public diplomacy by scholars, policy analysts, and former diplomacy practitioners.  Their collective intent, as framed by editor Deborah Trent (Public Diplomacy Council) is to analyze “innovations that either effectively bucked traditional practices or should have” and examine “other scenarios where new approaches are worth trying.”  The Council is a nonprofit organization committed to the importance of the academic study, professional practice, and responsible advocacy of public diplomacy.  Abstracts of the essays are on the Council’s website. 

— Deborah L. Trent, “Introduction”

— Anthony C. E. Quainton (American University), “Public Diplomacy: Can It Be Defined?”

— John Brown (Senior Foreign Service Officer, retired), “Janus-Faced Public Diplomacy: Creel and Lippmann During the Great War”

— Dick Virden (Senior Foreign Service Officer, retired), “The Uses and Abuses of Public Diplomacy: Winning and Losing Hearts and Minds”

— Carol Balassa (Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy, Vanderbilt University), “America’s Image Abroad: The UNESCO Cultural Diversity Convention and U.S. Motion Picture Exports”

— Robert Albro (American University), “Diplomacy and the Efficacy of Transnational Applied Cultural Networks”

— Peter Kovach (Senior Foreign Service Officer, retired), “Public Diplomacy Engages Religious Communities, Actors, and Organizations: A Belated and Transformative Marriage”

— Helle Dale (The Heritage Foundation), “Nontraditional Public Diplomacy in the Iraq-Afghan Wars or the Ups and Downs of Strategic Communicators”

— Deborah L. Trent, “Cultural Diplomacy Partnerships: Cracking the Credibility Nut with Inclusive Participation”

— Craig Hayden (Department of State, American University), “International Education and Public Diplomacy: Technology, MOOCS, and Transforming Engagement”

— Jong-on Hahm (George Washington University), “Funding International Scientific Research Activities as Opportunities for Public Diplomacy”

Brian E. Carlson (Senior Foreign Service Officer, retired), “Turning Point”

Abdul Basir Yosufi, “The Rise and Consolidation of Islamic State: External Intervention and Sectarian Conflict,” Connections QJ, 14, no. 4 (2016), 91-110.  Yosufi (General Director for International Cooperation, Afghanistan Ministry of Interior, Fulbright scholarship recipient and graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service) explores ways in which the US intervention in Iraq created a “strategic cause” for mobilization of the Islamic State’s (IS) insurgency, the contributing factors of sectarian conflict in Iraq and the region, and how deficiencies in counterinsurgency resources and doctrine allowed IS to consolidate.  He supports these claims with reasoning and examples, and also briefly draws contrasts between experiences with IS in Iraq and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.  His paper concludes with lessons learned and policy implications of his analysis that include elements of a political solution, a population-centric counterinsurgency strategy, and a negotiated agreement that addresses security concerns of countries in the region.

S. Zaharna, “Emotion, Identity, and Social Media: Developing a New Awareness, Lens, and Vocabulary for Diplomacy 21,”Working Paper, Project “Diplomacy in the 21stCentury,” No. 2, Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP), German Institute for International and Security Affairs, January 2017.  In this working paper, Zaharna (American University) offers several ideas intended for further research and discussion.  (1) Primary challenges presented by digital technologies and social media are in their impact on the public arena in which diplomacy practitioners operate, not on their diplomacy or the technologies themselves.  (2) Increasingly emotion and identity are becoming defining features of publics and the public arena.  (3) These trends challenge “rational” state actor models, “pragmatic rationalism,” and state-centric assumptions about diplomacy.  Her paper explores ways in which scholars and practitioners should move from “new communication tools” to “new communication dynamics” and from “digital diplomacy” to “diplomacy in the public domain.”


Recent Blogs and Other Items of Interest

Nick Anderson, “Surge in Foreign Students May Be Crowding Americans Out of Elite Colleges,” December 21, 2016, The Washington Post.

Matthew Armstrong, “The Past, Present, and Future of the War for Public Information,” January 19, 2017, War on the Rocks Blog.

Max Boot, “Losing the Information War,” January 10, 2017, Commentary.

Robin Brown, “Analyzing Public Diplomacies: Four Dimensions,” January 26, 2017; “Is Digital Diplomacy the Old Radio,” January 13, 2017; “First World Propaganda: Thoughts and Lessons,” January 8, 2017, Public Diplomacy, Networks and Influence Blog.

Nicholas J. Cull, “Engaging Foreign Publics in the Age of Trump and Putin: Three Implications of 2016 for Public Diplomacy,” December 2016, Place Branding and Public Diplomacy.

Nicholas J. Cull, “What the U.S. Can Learn from Its Cold War Fight Against Kremlin Propaganda,” January 13, 2017, Monkey Cage, The Washington Post.

Editorial Board, “A Big Change to U.S. Broadcasting is Coming – And It’s One Putin Might Admire,” December 9, 2016, The Washington Post.

 “FY17 State Authorization Passes the Congress,” December 2016, American Foreign Service Association.

Jeffrey Gedmin, “Don’t Gut America’s Voice and Turn It Into Propaganda,” December 15, 2016, FP Blog.

Jeffrey Gedmin and Gary Schmitt, “How Trump Can Beat Putin at His Media Game,” December 13, 2016, The Washington Post.

Jeffrey Gettleman, “State Department Dissent Channel on Trump’s Ban Draws 1,000 Signatures,” January 31, 2017, The New York Times; Mark Landler and David E Sanger, “White House to Dissenting U.S. Diplomats: ‘Get With the Program or Leave,” January 30, 2017,The New York Times; “Dissent Channel: Alternatives to Closing Doors in Order to Secure Our Borders,” [Draft] Memorandum to Edward J. Lacey, Acting Director of Policy Planning, US Department of State, January 2017, The Washington Post.

“Letter from 100-plus National Security Leaders on Refugee Executive Order,” January 30, 2017, LobeLog Foreign Policy Blog.

Ilan Manor, “On Post-Reality Digital Diplomacy,” January 25, 2017, USC Center for Public Diplomacy, CPD Blog.

Emily Metzgar, “Settle Down: New Legislation Didn’t Create Trump TV,” January 19, 2017, USC Center for Public Diplomacy, CPD Blog.

Tara Palmeri, “Trump to Put His Own Stamp on Voice of America,” January 23, 2017; “Trump to Inherit State-run TV Network With Expanded Reach,” December 12, 2016, Politico.

V. Paul, “ISA [International Studies Association] Statement Regarding Executive Order on Travel Ban,”January 31, 2017, ISA website.

Rob Portman, “President Signs Portman-Murphy Counter-Propaganda Bill Into Law,” December 23, 2016, Portman press release.

Gary Rawnsley, “Twitter Diplomacy: Preliminary Thoughts on the Trump-Tsai Phone Call,” December 12, 2016 Public Diplomacy and International Communications blog.

David E. Sanger, “In a Week, Trump Reshapes Decades of Perceptions About America,” January 29, 2017, The New York Times.

Jian (Jay) Wang, “Does Brand Nationality Still Matter,” January 30, 2017, USC Center for Public Diplomacy, CPD Blog.

Doug Wilson, “My Three Maddening, Futile Years Inside the Senate Confirmation Process,” January 6, 2017, The Washington Post.

S. Zaharna, “Trumping Traditional Public Diplomacy,”January 17, 2017, USC Center for Public Diplomacy, CPD Blog.


Gem From The Past 

Amartya SenIdentity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny, (W.W. Norton & Company, 2006).  In his influential Identity and Violence, Nobel Prize winning economist Amartya Sen (Harvard University) argued against responses to violent extremism grounded in illusions of single religious, national, ethnic, or other identities.  Categorizing human beings in “sharply carpentered” boxes, he reasoned, diminishes us morally and makes violent extremism more likely.  Individuals have many affiliations that include class, gender, profession, language, literature, science, music, morals, and politics.  Sen vigorously challenged Samuel Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” and those who foment global conflict by stoking fear and ideological polarization.  His views on reason, human freedom, and the complexity of identity, coupled with pragmatic policy relevant strategies for diplomats and political leaders, remain highly relevant.

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.