Diplomacy’s Public Dimension: Books, Articles, Websites #95

March 11, 2019

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

Katherine A. Brown, Your Country, Our War: The Press and Diplomacy in Afghanistan, (Oxford University Press, 2019).  In this excellent and engaging book, grounded in years of interviews with journalists and political actors in Afghanistan and the US, Katherine Brown (Global Ties U.S., Georgetown University) achieves several objectives.  First, she examines narratives and framing of modern Afghanistan in the journalism of US and Afghan news media.  Her empirical findings are shaped by two strands in communications studies – (1) literature on indexing, agenda setting, framing, conflict reporting, and related concepts; and (2) studies on national bias and ethnocentrism.  Second, she devotes considerable attention to habits and emotional conflicts of Afghan journalists and the sociology of how journalism has developed in Afghanistan since its news media became independent in 2001.  Her analysis of journalism in each nation is set in the context of how their news media function in relation to national priorities and international politics, the strategies of US national security actors, and circumstances shaped by violence, politics, and social change in Afghanistan.  In the concluding chapter, Brown turns to what she calls “the diplomatic dimension in news.”  She argues that journalists, who usually maintain distance from political agendas at home, do not disengage from their national identities abroad.  Nationalism, emotional attachments, and domestic reporting priorities lead journalists to “play the role of representatives, or de facto diplomats, for their nations.” “Journalists are actors in international diplomacy, mediating communications between governments and publics, and between governments and governments.”  It is a complex argument worthy of reflection, debate, and another book. 

William J. Burns, “How to Save the Power of Diplomacy,” March 8, 2019, The New York Times.  Ambassador (ret.) Burns (Carnegie Endowment, former Deputy Secretary of State) makes a compelling case for fundamental transformation in US diplomacy.  He advocates three imperatives: recapture the fundamentals of diplomatic tradecraft, build modern capabilities and strip down bureaucracy, and construct a new compact between government and citizens about America’s role in the world and the utility of diplomacy.  The roots of “America’s diplomatic decay” run deep, and “a cure will involve more than just seeing the back of Donald Trump.” 

Kwang-jin Choi, The Republic of Korea’s Public Diplomacy Strategy: History and Current Status, CPD Perspectives, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, January 2019.  Choi (Head, Center for People Diplomacy, ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs) provides a practitioner’s account of South Korea’s public diplomacy. His historical survey begins with episodic public diplomacy activities in the 19th century followed by an increasingly broad range of press and cultural activities in the decades after World War II and the Korean War.  South Korea adopted the term public diplomacy in 2010.  It reorganized activities in a Public Diplomacy and Cultural Affairs Bureau within its Ministry of Foreign Affairs and passed a Public Diplomacy Act. (Appendices contain the text of the Act and its Enforcement Decree.)  Choi’s paper discusses South Korea’s definition of public diplomacy, organizational and planning issues, and public diplomacy strategy.  

Andrew F. Cooper and Jérémie Cornut, “The Changing Practices of Frontline Diplomacy: New Directions for Inquiry,” Review of International Studies(2018).  In this cutting edge article, Cooper (University of Waterloo, Canada) and Cornut (Simon Fraser University, Canada) focus on what diplomatic practitioners do “in the field.”  Their aim is to steer IR and diplomacy studies away from dominant attention to what goes on in headquarters and national capitals toward a perspective that, building on the ideas of Paul Sharp and Geoffrey Wiseman, advances a “conviction that the activities of ‘professional strangers’ and ‘mediators’ posted abroad are constitutive of international politics.”  Cooper and Cornut begin with a discussion of practice-based theory’s contributions (empirical depth, importance of agency, utility of complex, problem driven inquiry).  They argue for expanding the practice turn in IR theory to embrace what analysis of frontline diplomacy can tell us about current changes in both international politics and diplomatic practice.  Taking research in these directions calls for exploration of important questions raised by Wiseman’s illuminating concept of polylateralism and its inclusion of non-state actors in diplomatic interactions.  The article develops their claims through references to studies by others that include the 2011 intervention in Libya, multilateral diplomacy at G-8 summits and the 1970s Helsinki Conference, and relief efforts in Somalia and Haiti.  They conclude with two case studies of innovations in frontline practices: actions of Sherpas in G-20 summits following the 2008 financial crisis and US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul’s use of Twitter.  Citations throughout the article of relevant literature in current diplomacy studies strengthen its value. 

Andrew F. Cooper, “U.S. Public Diplomacy and Sports Stars: Mobilizing African-American Athletes as Goodwill Ambassadors from the Cold War to an Uncertain Future,” Place Branding and Public Diplomacy,December 2018.  Cooper (University of Waterloo, Canada and the author of Celebrity Diplomacy) asserts the United States has a deep pool of “star athletes and African-American athletes more specifically” who can be deployed in its public diplomacy on the basis of choices from a spectrum of risk-averse and risk-oriented strategies.  His article examines US Cold War and post Cold War “goodwill ambassador” programs and compares their “conformist style” with the potential for gains and risks in strategy choices going forward.  Among the risks Cooper identifies are athletes’ reluctance to participate without commercial endorsement, their aversion to being co-opted, and downsides of participation in an era of Trump administration populism and racial polarization.  While these risks will likely preclude participation by many athletes in such initiatives in the current environment, he points to their potential rewards if and when conditions in the future are more amenable. 

Democracy Promotion in a Challenging World, Hearing Before the Committee on Foreign Affairs, US House of Representatives, Serial No. 115-142, June 14, 2018.  The Committee’s 117-page transcript contains statements by Chairman Edward Royce; Ranking member Eliot Engel; Carl Gershman, President, National Endowment for Democracy; Daniel Twining, President International Republican Institute, and Kenneth Wollack, President, International Democratic Institute; and additional materials submitted for the record.  The hearing addressed challenges facing the democratization activities of the Endowment and the political party institutes, global prospects for democratic resilience and authoritarian vulnerability, issues in recruiting next generation democratizers, the Endowment’s report on Sharp Power, and related matters. 

Diana Ingenhoff, Candace White, Alexander Buhmann, and Spiro Kiousis, eds., Bridging Disciplinary Perspectives of Country Image, Reputation, Brand, and Identity, (Routledge, 2019).  Ingenhoff (University of Fribourg, Switzerland), White (University of Tennessee), Buhmann (BI Norwegian Business School), and Kiousis (University of Florida) divide the 16 essays in this handbook on perceptions of countries and their effects into four categories: business studies, social psychology, sociology and political science, and communication studies.  Their interdisciplinary and multi-national approach connects conceptual constructs of country identity, branding, reputation, and image with applied knowledge for practitioners in such fields as public diplomacy, international marketing, and corporate advocacy.  Issues include the strengths and limitations of country brand indexes, country reputation and global sport, “global rage” in the Brexit and Trump era, mediated public diplomacy theory building, recent research on relational and nation branding approaches in public diplomacy, and social media platforms for the study and practice of brand communities.  Essays of particular interest to diplomacy and communications scholars and practitioners include: Henrik Merkelson (Lund University, Sweden) and Rasmus Kjærgaard Rasmussen (Roskilde University, Denmark), “Evaluation of Nation Brand Indexes.” Tobias Werron (Bielefeld University, Germany), “The Global Construction of National Reputation.” Frank Louis Rusciano (Rider University, New Jersey), “World Opinion, Country Identity, and Country Images.” Tianduo Zhang (University of Florida) and Guy J. Golan (University of South Florida), “Mediated Public Diplomacy as a Function of Government Strategic Issue Management.” Di Wu (American University) and Jian Wang (University of Southern California), “Country Image in Public Diplomacy: From Messages to Relationships.” Wayne Wanta (University of Florida), “Media Influences on the Public’s Perceptions of Countries: Agenda-Setting and International News.” Efe Sevin (Reinhardt University, Georgia, USA), “Talking at Audiences: Networking and Networks in Country Images.” Diana Ingenhoff, Tianduo Zhang, Alexander Buhmann, Candace White, and Spiro Kiousis, “Analyzing Value Drivers and Effects of 4D-Country Images on Stakeholders’ Behavior Across Three Different Cultures.” 

Jill Lepore, “A New Americanism: Why America Needs a National Story,” Foreign Affairs,March/April, 2019, 10-19.  Lepore (Harvard University, The New Yorker, and author of These Truths: A History of the United States) makes the compelling and provocative argument that when American historians “stop trying to write a common history for a people, nationalism doesn’t die.”  Instead they open the door to charlatans and tyrants who offer myths, prejudices, and hatreds that allow dangerous versions of American nationalism to take hold.  Her brief article is first a powerful critique of an American historical profession that in the past half century has produced excellent scholarship on social groups and global history, but has stopped trying to write a common history for a people.  She supports her claim with threads drawn from These Truths, her own recent attempt at writing national history.  Her tapestry – inspired by the sweeping narrative of 20th century historian Carl Degler and the composite nationalism of Frederick Douglass – places race, slavery, segregation, liberty, rights, revolution, freedom, and equality at the center of a common account.  Writing national history creates problems, Lepore concedes. “But not writing national history creates more problems, and these problems are worse.”  It paves the way for “nationalists” who say they can “make America great again.” 

Ilan Manor, The Digitalization of Public Diplomacy,  (Palgrave Macmillan Series in Global Public Diplomacy, 2019).  Oxford University’s Ilan Manor, a leader in next generation diplomacy scholarship, sets a very high standard in this book.  He builds on a foundational comparison of 20th century public diplomacy and “new public diplomacy,” which he characterizes as the ascendancy of a global media ecology, the rise of “a digital society,” two-way information flows between individuals and groups, and new methods in diplomatic practice that emphasize dialogue and relationship models.  His thesis: digitalization of public diplomacy “should be conceptualized as a long term process in which digital technologies influence the norms, values, working routines and structures of diplomatic institutions, as well as the self-narratives or metaphors diplomats employ to conceptualize their craft.”  Manor develops this claim through: (1) construction of his conceptual framework for understanding the influence of digital technologies; (2) analysis of the norms, values, and logic of digital society as a precursor to understanding digitalization of public diplomacy; and (3) detailed examination of the experiences of foreign affairs ministries worldwide: Botswana, Canada, Denmark, Ethiopia, France, India, Iran, Israel, Kenya, Lithuania, Palestine, Poland, Russia, Rwanda, Sweden, Turkey, the EU, the Netherlands, the UK, Uganda, the US, and New Zealand.  Teachers will find the book essential reading for students; it is written with flair and contains extensive references and e-book links to online material.  Practitioners will benefit from its analysis and empirical evidence.  Scholars will discover much to agree with and ponder. They will also find grounds for spirited discourse, including its treatment of public diplomacy as an independent category of analysis and its hard binary between traditional and “new” public diplomacy.  This is a serious and important book, a landmark in diplomacy studies. 

Ilan Manor and Rhys Crilley, “Visually Framing the Gaza War of 2014: The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Twitter,”  Media, War & Conflict,Vol. 11(4), 2018, 369-391.  Manor (University of Oxford) and Crilley (The Open University, UK) build on the work of Robert Entman and others to extend framing theory to social media and diplomacy in war.  They argue there are three gaps in framing theory in the context of modern armed conflict: inadequate understanding of how foreign ministries use social media to frame conflict, a gap in understanding the relationship between narratives and frames, and insufficient understanding of how visual media fit into foreign ministry framing and narrating conflict on social media.  Their conceptual arguments are developed in a case study of 795 tweets published by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in its digital diplomacy during the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict. 

Christopher Paul, Colin P. Clarke, Bonnie L. Triezenberg, David Manheim, Bradley Wilson, Improving C2 and Situational Awareness for Operations in and Through the Information Environment, RAND Corporation, 2018.  In this 110-page report, Paul and his RAND colleagues focus on ways “to improve integration of information operations and information considerations more broadly in military operations in and through” the information environment.  As with many RAND reports on Defense Department (DoD) issues, there are significant implications for actors in diplomacy and civil society.  The report examines two basic questions.  How should DoD conceptualized “command and control” (C2) and situational awareness of the information environment?  And how should DoD organize at the geographic combatant command level to maintain C2 and situational awareness?  Issues discussed include information operations, the meaning of influence, blending information and physical power, organizational alternatives, knowledge management, recommendations for practitioners’ training and operations, lessons from adversaries, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and autonomous warfare.  

Julie Ray, “Image of U.S. Leadership Now Poorer Than China’s,” Gallup, February 28, 2019.  Gallup’s Julie Ray summarizes highlights in Gallup’s recent survey of how people in more than 130 countries rated U.S. leadership in President Donald Trump’s second year in office.  (1) The “image of U.S. leadership is in poor shape, but its approval ratings [at 31% in 2018] are no longer in free fall.”  Gallup argues this implies doubts in Trump’s first year “about U.S. commitments abroad have taken root – and the unpredictability of the U.S. president is now somewhat expected.”  (2) Germany’s leadership ranking is first at 39%.  (3) China and Russia gained ground; China leads the U.S. at 34%, and Russia’s approval is at 30%.  Gallup contends this shift in “global soft power” may make it more difficult for the U.S. to counter their influence unless the Trump administration “can erase some of the doubts that U.S. partners have about its commitment.”   The full report, Rating World Leaders: The U.S. vs. Germany, China, and Russia2019 is available for download. 

Shaun Riordan, Cyberdiplomacy: Managing Security and Governance Online, (Polity, 2019).  Riordan (European Institute of International Studies and a former British diplomat) examines the need for cyber governance and rules, less in the context of much discussed threats, but through the lens of diplomacy.  He offers a fundamental distinction between digital diplomacy (use of digital tools to pursue diplomatic objectives) and cyber diplomacy (use of diplomatic tools and mindsets to manage problems of governance in cyberspace).  Key issues include negotiating regulations, mitigating conflict, conducting business in cyberspace, better understanding algorithms and intentions. Riordan’s goal is to make diplomacy and diplomats, who are “remarkably good at identifying intentions” through repeated face-to-face contact, essential to addressing important cyber policy and governance issues.  It’s time, he argues, “for diplomats to stop messing with social media and get back to the serious stuff.”  

Daya Kishan Thussu, International Communication: Continuity and Change, (Bloomsbury Academic, 3rd edition, 2018).  Thussu (Tsinghua University, Beijing) updates his textbook on international media and communication with new information and analysis of technological, political, and economic changes during the decade since the second edition.  Trends include digitization and deregulation, global penetration of mobile internet, growth of global digital companies, the rise of China and India, empowered non-state actors, continued US dominance in entertainment media, and increasing news and other communication content from sources outside the West.  Thussu combines historical context, theoretical approaches, and teachable case studies in a wide-ranging treatment of the global communication infrastructure and global media.  Teaching aids include a chronology of international communication, a glossary of terms, a list of useful websites, and discussion questions for each chapter.  

U.S. Department of State, Office of Inspector General (OIG), “Management Assistance Report: Use of Personal Social Media Accounts to Conduct Official Business,” February 2019.  The OIG’s report responds to allegations that some US ambassadors were violating Foreign Affairs Manual guidelines by posting original content regarding matters “of Departmental concern” on their personal social media accounts. Following a review of all such personal accounts it could locate, the inspectors found that most posts were reposted content from official accounts, “which does not violate guidelines.”  OIG found, however, that the Department’s guidelines lacked specificity and its definitions did not clearly distinguish between “official capacity” and “personal capacity.”  OIG also found that 20 ambassadors had posted content inconsistent with the guidelines regardless of how the Department’s policies were stated.  The report contains examples, an explanation of the social media regulations, and recommendations for change.  Overall, it places a useful spotlight on contested issues in digitized diplomacy. 

US Government Accountability Office, “Department of State: Integrated Action Plan Could Enhance Efforts to Reduce Persistent Overseas Foreign Service Vacancies,” GAO-19-220, March 2019.  GAO reports that State Department data show persistent Foreign Service vacancies in overseas generalist and specialist positions based on benchmarks in 2008 (14%), 2011 (14%), and 2018 (13%).  The report summarizes views of overseas staff that vacancies increase workloads, contribute to stress and lower morale, limit reporting on political and economic issues, and increase vulnerability to cybersecurity attacks and other threats. GAO faults the State Department for its lack of an integrated plan for reducing these vacancies.  See also Robbie Gramer, “State Department Vacancies Increase Embassy Security Risks, Report Warns,”  March 7, 2019, Foreign Policy. 

Stephen M. Walt, The Hell of Good Intentions: America’s Foreign Policy Elite and the Decline of U.S. Primacy, (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018).  Walt (Harvard University) gives us a provocative and penetrating critique of America’s foreign policy elites and institutions, leading voices, and their global strategy of a “liberal hegemony” guided by indispensable and benevolent US leadership during the past quarter century.  His argument.  (1) The liberal order (democracy, rule of law, religious and social tolerance, respect for human rights, economic openness, alliances, and global economic institutions) failed because it overestimated America’s ability to reshape other societies and underestimated the ability of weaker actors to counter US aims.  (2) America’s foreign policy elite is an inbred, conformist caste insulated from the consequences of the policies it promotes and at odds with the preferences of most Americans.  (3) Durable commitment to ‘liberal hegemony’ is sustained by inflating threats, exaggerating benefits of global leadership, concealing costs, and projecting eventual success.  (4) America’s political system does little to reward successes and penalize failures of foreign policy elites.  Walt is a reputable scholar and skilled debater.  His deeply researched account frames his claims with extensive supporting evidence, numerous exceptions, and nuanced interpretations that reflect the complexity of the subject matter.  So what about President Trump’s assault on elites and the liberal order?  Here Walt casts nuance aside. Trump’s incompetence, ignorance, chaotic management, toxic rhetoric, and foolish decisions provide “a textbook case for how not to fix U.S. foreign policy.”  Walt concludes by dealing with counter-arguments and his alternative grand strategy: offshore balancing and putting diplomacy center stage.  Military power, still important, should be a last resort rather than the first.  Emphasis on diplomacy will require major reforms to include ending heavy reliance on political appointees and extended vacancies, and a turn to well-funded professional development and education.  For a rejoinder and contrasting view, see Jake Sullivan, “More, Less, Or Different?”Foreign Affairs, January/February, 2019. 

Michael Walzer, A Foreign Policy for the Left, (Yale University Press, 2018).  As the American left achieves greater visibility with prominent older (Bernie Sanders) and younger (Alexandria Ocazio-Cortez) voices shaping political discourse, a new book by one of the left’s leading public intellectuals takes aim at what’s missing.  Michael Walzer (Princeton, Institute for Advanced Study, emeritus) argues the left’s default position, an almost exclusive focus on creating a more just domestic society, is “a highly principled failure.” “For many of us, the only good foreign policy is a good domestic policy.”  In this compendium of updated and rewritten essays from Dissent, Walzer compiles his arguments against a reflexive avoidance of foreign engagement and for a politically effective and morally legitimate approach to global affairs.  Difficult questions addressed include:  Who should benefit from a redistributive internationalism? When should the left support and oppose the use of force?  How should a mostly secular left address religious revival?  How many interests, contrary to its own, should the US accommodate for the sake of global stability?  And why can’t the left accept an ambivalent relationship with American power, acknowledging it has good and bad effects?  Self described as “a very old leftist,” Walzer continues to stimulate needed debate. 

Jay Wang and Sohaela Amiri, “Building a Robust Capacity Framework for U.S. City Diplomacy, USC Center on Public Diplomacy,” February 2019.  In this brief online paper, Wang and Amiri (University of Southern California) argue the ascending phenomenon of cities as subnational and “glocal” actors in diplomacy is not only evidence of new varieties of diplomatic practice, it also means “city diplomacy has now become essential for local communities to thrive in a globalized society.”  Their paper profiles ideas developed at a workshop hosted in 2018 by USC’s Center on Public Diplomacy with participants from 13 US cities including Los Angeles and New York City. They organize their takeaways in three categories: key functions (trade, consular issues, climate issues, countering terrorism, hosting special events); challenges (fragmented organizations, lack of coherent identity, limited resources); and building future city diplomacy practices (policy driven diplomacy, strengthened citizen support, better communication, networked concepts and practices, and better use of data). 

Recent Blogs and Other Items of Interest 
Corneliu Bjola, “The ‘Dark Side’ of Digital Diplomacy,”  January 22, 2019, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy. 
Robin Brown, “What City Diplomacy Tells Us About Statecraft in General,”  March 6, 2019; “A Short History of Cultural Relations Organizations,”  March 1, 2019; “Is Rules Based International Order the New Credibility,”  February, 25, 2019, Public Diplomacy, Networks and Influence. 
Halid Bulut, “Cultural Diplomacy Through Turkish Cinema,” January 28, 2019, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy. 
Hillary Rodham Clinton, “The Future of Diplomacy,”Moderated by Ambassador (ret.) Bill Burns, February 7, 2019, Video (approximately 80 minutes), Georgetown University. 
“Culture Wars: The Communist Party Capitalizes on Foreign Interest in Chinese Culture,”  February 7, 2019; “China’s High Spending Tourists Bring Political Clout,” February 23, The Economist. 
Aaron C. Davis, “U.S. Funded Broadcaster Firing 8 Reporters and Editors Over ‘Rogue’ Anti-Semitic Reports Disparaging George Soros,” February 27, 2019, The Washington Post. 
Daniel R. DePetris, “Has the State Department Been Stripped of Its Swagger?”  January 27, 2019, The National Interest. 
Amy Ebitz, “The Use of Military Diplomacy in Great Power Competition,”  February 12, 2019,  Brookings. 
Robbie Gramer and Elias Groll, “With New Appointment, State Department Ramps Up War Against Foreign Propaganda,”  February 7, 2019, Foreign Policy.com
Elias Groll and Robbie Gramer,  “New Bill Seeks to Energize American Cyberdiplomacy,”  January 24, 2019, Foreign Policy.com
Alan Heil, “A New Era for US-Funded Global Media: Innovations Accelerate,”  March 8, 2019, Public Diplomacy Council. 
Joe Johnson, “The Dark Matter of Public Diplomacy,”  March 5, 2019, Public Diplomacy Council. 
Ilan Manor, “In Digital Diplomacy, Hope Travels Further Than Hate,”  February 25, 2019, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy. 
Derek Moscato, “Mediating the Polar Silk Road: The Public Diplomacy of China’s Arctice Policy White Paper,”  January 14, 2019, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy. 
Joseph S. Nye, “Rules of the Cyber Road for America and Russia,”  March 5, 2019; “Is the Populist Tide Retreating?”  February 4, 2019, Project Syndicate. 
Shaun Riordan, “Treating Facebook as a Geopolitical Actor,”  February 18, 2019, BideDao. 
Marie Royce, “Exchange Programs Pay Off For Americans,” Foreign Service Journal,January/February 2019, 56-58. 
Mattathias Schwartz, “Mike Pompeo’s Mission: Clean Up Trump’s Messes,” February 26, 2019, The New York Times Magazine. 
Philip Seib, “The Realities of Terrorism’s Resilience,” February 22, 2019, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy. 
Reid Standish and Robbie Gramer, “U.S. Cancels Journalist’s Award Over Her Criticism of Trump,”  March 7, 2019, Foreign Policy.com
Pamela Starr and Jeffrey Phillips, “Public Diplomacy – The Forgotten But Essential Element in U.S.-Mexico Relations,”  February 19, 2019, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy. 
“Strategic Competition and Foreign Policy: What is ‘Political Warfare’?”  March 8, 2019, Congressional Research Service. 
Harry Stevens, “U.S. Ambassadors Have Become Less Qualified Under Trump,”  February 20, 2019, Axios. 
Darius Wainwright, “Soft Power: Ever Present in U.S.-Iran Relations,”  March 4, 2019, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy. 
Vivian S. Walker, “Say It With Statues: Brick and Mortar Revisionism in Orban’s Hungary,”  February 8, 2019, War on the Rocks. 
Lynne Weil, “Storming Capitol Hill to Support PD,”  March 4, 2019, Public Diplomacy Council. 
David A. Wemer“How to Fight Disinformation While Preserving Free Speech,”  March 4, 2019, Atlantic Council. 

Gems From The Past 
Hannah Arendt, “Lying in Politics: Reflections on the Pentagon Papers,”  in Crises of the Republic, (A Harvest Book, 1969), 3-47 and “Truth and Politics,” originally published in The New Yorker, February 25, 1967.  Massive quantitative change yields qualitative difference as Donald Trump’s lies demonstrate.  In this regard he is sui generis.  There is no linear progression in the use of deception to achieve political ends from Plato’s cave allegory tothe Pentagon papers released by Daniel Ellsberg to America’s current president.  Nevertheless, Hannah Arendt’s reflections on truth and politics a half-century ago are relevant in thinking about today’s era of “alternative facts.” Ellsberg’s idea of “internal self-deception,” she wrote, was not a process that began with deception and ended with self-deception.  Rather, “The deceivers started with self-deception.”  They “lived in a defactualized world that made self-deception easy.”  Arendt also understood that “Freedom of opinion is a farce unless factual information is guaranteed and the facts themselves are not in dispute.”   “The result of a consistent and total substitution of lies for factual truth,” she maintained, “is not that the lies will now be accepted as truth and the truth defamed as lies, but the sense by which we take our bearings in the real world – and the category of truth vs. falsehood is among the mental means to this end – is being destroyed.”   

An archive of Diplomacy’sPublic 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