Diplomacy’s Public Dimension: Books, Articles, Websites #100

March 5, 2020

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

Gordon Adams, “The Presidential Inbox: Reform the Foreign Policy Toolkit for a Rebalanced World,”  Policy Brief, February 2020.  Adams (Stimson Distinguished Fellow, Quincy Institute, American University) calls for fundamental reforms in US foreign policy capabilities based on two key propositions: (1) Today’s global security challenges are not susceptible to military solutions or solvable by any one nation alone. (2) Deep and persistent problems in the Department of State and US foreign assistance institutions render them “woefully unprepared” to deal with climate change, migration, health crises, economic inequality, and other global issues.  His paper makes a number of recommendations.  Recruit, train, empower, and reward diplomats with skills relevant to new global challenges.  Establish a separate curriculum for each of these global issues at the Foreign Service Institute.  Make strategic planning and implementation mandatory in Foreign Service training.  Train and assign diplomats who are skilled managers, not just negotiators. Completely restructure foreign and economic security assistance programs. To rectify the imbalance between military and diplomatic instruments, strengthen civilian institutions first and then address needed reforms in National Security Council coordination. 

Andrew Bacevich, The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory, (Metropolitan Books, 2020).  “Without the Cold War, what’s the point of being an American,” asked novelist John Updike’s everyman character Harry ‘Rabbit’ Angstrom.”  In this provocative and engaging book, Bacevich (Boston University and President, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft)  shares his critique of the assumptions behind Rabbit’s question and America’s attempts to answer it.  Trends in US politics, exemplars in popular culture, and writings of public intellectuals provide contours for an argument that takes aim at a post-Cold War consensus shaped by globalized neo-liberalism, militarized global leadership, concepts of freedom that privilege autonomy, and radical grants of power to the presidency.  Along the way, Bacevich deals with American exceptionalism, endless hubris and capacity to nurture “dreams of managing history” (indebted here to Reinhold Niebuhr), economic inequality, realities of a “bought and paid for” all volunteer force, perpetual wars, the epic inadequacy of the Trump presidency, and huge failure to treat climate change as a clear and present danger.          

Jillian Burns and Mark C. Storella, “Teaching Diplomacy Today,”  Foreign Service Journal, January/February 2020.  Burns (George Washington University) and Storella (Department of State) offer practical advice and examine the pros and cons of teaching as a post-Foreign Service activity.  Their article looks at the joys of working with students, the opportunities to give back, and the psychological benefits of staying engaged.  They discuss the challenges of finding a teaching job, different kinds of teaching positions, and the basics of designing courses.  Burns and Storella also are clear-eyed about the downsides: exceptionally poor compensation for adjunct faculty and “the sometimes-daunting inefficiency, balkanization, tight budgets, and understaffing of many American universities.” 

Sarah Cook, “Beijing’s Global Megaphone: The Expansion of Chinese Communist Party Media Influence Since 2017,”  Special Report, Freedom House, January 2020.  Freedom House’s analyst for China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan analyses five trends in China’s overseas media activities during the past three years.  (1) Actors based in China are using Russian-style social media campaigns and efforts to manipulate search results on global online platforms.  (2) Tactics used previously to co-opt Chinese diaspora media and suppress critical coverage in overseas Chinese language publications are now being applied to local mainstream media in some countries.  (3) Technology firms with CCP ties are gaining influence in some countries’ information infrastructure and are building or acquiring content dissemination platforms.  (4) Chinese-owned social media platforms and digital television providers are engaging increasingly in politicized pro-Beijing content manipulation.  (5) Chinese officials are making greater efforts to present China as a model by training foreign personnel and through technology transfers to foreign state-owned media.  The report offers recommendations to policymakers in democratic countries seeking to protect media freedom.  See also Anna Fifield, “China is Waging a Global Propaganda War to Silence Critics Abroad, Report Warns,”The Washington Post, January 15, 2020. “From Bombay With Love,”  

Episode 353. 99% Invisible.  Podcast creator Roman Mars and Producer Vivian Le engage in conversation about India’s Bollywood film industry and the Soviet Union’s improbable fascination with Indian cinema during the Cold War with Indian writer Deepa Bhasthi, Sudha Rajagopalan (University of Amsterdam), Kirill Razlogov (film historian and critic) and Elmar Hashimov (Biola University).  Participants discuss common ground fascination with movies in two countries with very different politics, languages, and cultures; trends in the Soviet Union’s Socialist Realism and filmmaking; the geopolitics of Soviet relations with a post-colonial India; and film as a source of soft power and cultural diplomacy.  Contains a number of video links. See also transcript page.  (Courtesy of Larry Schwartz)  

Government Accountability Office, “State Department: Additional Steps Are Needed To Identify Potential Barriers To Diversity,”  GAO-20-237, February 25, 2020.  GAO’s report examines the demographic composition of State’s workforce, Civil Service and Foreign Service, from 2002-2018; differences in promotion outcomes for different demographic groups; and the extent to which the Department has identified barriers to diversity.  It discusses three major findings: (1) The overall proportion of racial or ethnic minorities has grown, but proportions of African Americans and women have declined; (2) Promotion outcomes were generally lower for racial or ethnic minorities than for whites and differed for women relative to men; and (3) State has identified some diversity issues but should consider others that could indicate potential barriers to diversity.  The GAO’s granular assessment contains extensive data and numerous graphics in both a downloadable pdf version and an impressive, searchable online version.  See also Robbie Gramer, “State Department Struggling with Diversity, New Report Finds,”  February 24, 2020, Foreign Policy.

Stephen D. Krasner, “Learning to Live With Despots: The Limits of Democracy Promotion,”  Foreign Affairs, March/April, 2020, 49-62.  Krasner (Stanford University) takes aim at two long-standing models of democratization: active promotion and demonstration by example.  He argues the US should take a third course, “working with the rulers the world has, not the ones the United States wishes it had.”  Wealthy, industrialized, and consolidated democracies are recent and rare in world history.  Accordingly, for Krasner, because despots are here for the foreseeable future, the US should deal with them by “promoting not good government but good enough governance.”  His article offers a number of policy suggestions including an end to the State Department’s practice of reassigning Foreign Service Officers every two or three years.  Longer stays in country are needed to enhance intimate knowledge of “local elites, their beliefs, and their followers,” know which leaders are likely to provide good enough governance, and gain greater access to them.  The article is adapted from his forthcoming book, How to Make Love to a Despot: An Alternative Foreign Policy for the Twenty-first Century,  (Liveright, 2020).       

James Pamment, “The EU Code of Practice on Disinformation: Briefing Note for the New EU Commission,”  Perspectives Series #1, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, March 2020. In this working paper, Pamment (Carnegie Endowment non-resident scholar, Lund University) observes that one year on the EU’s Code of Practice on Disinformation has “produced mixed results.”  The Code’s self-regulation approach has been of questionable value in protecting publics from harm caused by disinformation.  Government, industry, academic, and civil society stakeholders have not built relationships based on trust.  The working paper offers a variety of suggestions aimed at strengthening cross-sector relationships, developing a long-term collaborative focus on impact evaluation, and addressing problems created by the social media black market.  The paper also makes three key recommendations: develop a shared methodology, develop “campaign-wide analytics” for impact evaluation, and develop an iterative consultancy process that leads to actionable evidence on the impact of information operations and counter measures.   

Nancy Snow and Nicholas J. Cull, eds., The Routledge Handbook of Public Diplomacy,  Second Edition, (Routledge, 2020).  Snow (Kyoto University of Foreign Studies) and Cull (University of Southern California) have performed a great service in compiling the chapters in this welcome second edition of The Routledge Handbook.  Compared to its 2009 predecessor, it is more comprehensive and global in scope.  Its conceptual approaches and diplomatic actors are more diverse.  Contributors are a broader range of older and younger voices, scholars, and practitioners.  Following introductions by Snow and Cull, the Handbook’s 45 chapters (too many to list here) divide into six parts that examine core practices, contrasting assumptions and methods, cases that illustrate theoretical concepts, cases that portray country and regional differences, and chapters that explore ethical questions, digital technologies, and innovations in study and practice.  Teachers will want to look for chapters to assign that support course topics.  Given its content and heft (543 pages), the paperback and eBook editions are affordably priced.  As with any compilation of this size, contributions vary in quality and depth.  Readers will find arguments that are provocative and evidence based, claims that prompt disagreement and vigorous debate, and subject matter that calls for more research.  The Handbook is aspirational and self-described as foundational.  Its impressive range of ideas and approaches prompt two evergreen questions.  Should we continue to treat public diplomacy as a separate field of diplomatic study and practice?  And, given so much effort by so many in this volume and elsewhere, why is diplomacy so under-represented in IR and communications studies?  

Alaina B. Teplitz and Michael C. Gonzales, “U.S.-Nepal Relations: Leveraging Operational Efficiencies to Achieve Our Objectives,”  Council of American Ambassadors, Spring 2018.  Two years ago, then US Ambassador to Nepal Alaina Teplitz and her DCM, Michael Gonzales, published this article on Embassy Kathmandu’s experiment with Integrated Country Strategy (ICS) teams.  They regarded them as a proof of concept for how 21st century embassies can more effectively organize people and whole of government operations.  Rather than organize the embassy by Washington-based government agencies, the embassy’s ICS teams, co-chaired by section chiefs from separate agencies, designed common strategies for coordinated interagency approaches to priority objectives.  As the authors summarized, “The approach brought together all USG actors en­gaged on each issue to analyze the situation, agree on a common strategy to address it, share details on relevant efforts, deconflict efforts and complement one another to allow the totality of USG engagement in major priority areas to achieve more than the sum of its parts.”  The experiment involved relocating embassy staff from offices defined by agencies to workspaces focused on interagency action plans where diplomats could engage through multiple “casual collisions” rather than weekly meetings.  The article discusses a variety of operational issues including emphasis on public outreach and the PAO’s advisory role with each ICS team.  US Embassy Kathmandu’s thinking and innovations warrant a continuing look.   

US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy (ACPD), “Comprehensive Annual Report on Public Diplomacy & International Broadcasting: Focus on FY 2018 Budget Data,” January 2020.  Written by its professional staff, Vivian Walker and Shawn Baxter, the Commission’s 70th anniversary report (256 pages) combines recommendations with an abundance of data, graphics, descriptions, and budget information provided by the State Department and US broadcasters on their programs and activities.  The report is an important resource for diplomatic practitioners, Congressional staff, and diplomacy scholars.  Key recommendations (pp. 22-26) include: (1) Put subject expertise and professional understanding of public diplomacy high on the list of qualifications for a new Under Secretary for PD and Public Affairs, and consider appointing a current or retired senior Foreign Service Officer. (2) Sustain resource investments in public diplomacy and global media programs. (3) “Use the NSC’s Information Statecraft PCC as a mechanism for interagency coordination on messaging and influence strategies.” (4) Allocate at least 3 to 5 percent of total PD program funds for research and evaluation. (5) Consolidate and modernize legal authority for the State Department’s PD mission. (6) Conduct a strategic review of PD’s structure, programs, and resource allocations. (7) Revise PD training protocols and requirements, and create new opportunities for professional development. (8) Assess the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ research and evaluation procedures and conduct a strategic review of the Bureau’s structure and programs. (9) Prioritize the interagency coordination and synchronization of Global Engagement Center programs and insights. (10) Conduct annual business reviews of each US broadcasting language service, and launch a “wholesale digital modernization” of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting. 

Alicia Wanless and James Pamment, “How Do You Define a Problem Like Influence?”  Journal of Information Warfare (2019) 18.3: 1014.  Wanless (King’s College, London) and Pamment (Lund University) provide a literature review and thoughtful insights into terms used by industry, government, and media to describe influence operations.  Their article discusses how widely used terms such as fake news, misinformation, propaganda, disinformation, influence campaign, information operations, strategic communication, and information war create definitional issues and operational problems for practitioners.  They also explore conceptual factors relating to intent, truth, origin, and legitimacy.  Analytical categories include: (1) Philosophical dichotomies (hard lines between black and white), (2) Inherent immeasurable intent (terms with ambiguous and contested meanings that are difficult to discern and measure at scale), (3) Focus on foreign actors (made problematic by a proliferation of actors with diverse loyalties within and beyond states), (4) Pre-existing connotations (terms such as propaganda, information warfare and information operations that are overly broad, restrictive, and too confusing for use in policy and practice), and(5) Utility to policymakers (terms that can be ruled out and one term with potential).  Wanless and Pamment settle on “influence operations” as a term with fewer problems and the most potential.  Their article was written to support the launch of the Carnegie Endowment’s Partnership for Countering Influence Operations.

Richard Wilke, Jacob Poushter, Janell Fetterolf, and Shannon Schumacher, Trump Ratings Remain Low Around Globe, While Views of U.S. Stay Mostly Favorable,  Pew Research Center, January 8, 2020.  Pew’s research team continues to illuminate widespread negative views abroad on the Donald Trump presidency.  Survey findings in 32 countries show “a median of 64% say they do not have confidence in Trump to do the right thing in world affairs.”  Negative views are especially high in Western Europe and Mexico. Pew’s surveys included questions and data on tariffs, withdrawal from climate change agreements, a border wall, immigration policies, withdrawal from the Iran nuclear weapons agreement, negotiations with North Korea, and ratings for Trump in comparison to other world leaders.  See also Richard Wilke, “The New Anti-Americanism: How Worries About U.S. Dominance Gave Way to Worries About U.S. Decline,”  January 8, 2020, Foreign Affairs.

Samuel Woolley and Katie Joseff, “Demand for Deceit: How the Way We Think Drives Disinformation,” Working Paper, The National Endowment for Democracy, January 2020.  Woolley (University of Texas, Austin) and Joseff (Institute for the Future) focus on the consumption side of the digital disinformation problem.  Why do many consumers “repeatedly seek out and believe sources of disinformation while rejecting other information sources?”  The authors examine issues in the psychology of news consumption and opinion formation, passive and active cognitive drivers in disinformation acceptance and sharing, disinformation as a global phenomenon, and the need for fact checkers and media literacy programs to take human psychology into account. They also explore the impact of emerging technologies on disinformation and ways that civil society, journalists, and other stakeholders can address the problem.  The paper includes two case studies (Mexico and North Macedonia).  Woolley and Joseff conclude by making a case for more research on why people consume and spread novel forms of manipulative content as a needed supplement to research and investigative journalism on the supply side. 

Recent Blogs and Other Items of Interest 

Cathryn Cluver Ashbrook, “From Digital Diplomacy To Data Diplomacy,”  January 14, 2020, International Politics and Society. 

Alyssa Ayres, “Scale Without Power: Global Cities in the World’s Largest Democracy,”  January 1, 2020, Diplomatic Courier. 

“Chinese Students: The New Red Scare on American Campuses,”  January 2, 2020, The Economist. 

Michael P. Ferguson, “The Evolution of Disinformation: How Public Opinion Became Proxy,”  January 14, 2020, The Strategy Bridge. 

Anna Fifield, “Chinese Official to U.S. After Limits Put On Its Journalists: ‘Let’s Play,’”  March 3, 2020, The Washington Post. 

Hafez Ghanem, “Shooting for the Moon: An Agenda to Bridge Africa’s Digital Divide,”  February 7, 2020, Brookings; “Capturing the Fourth Industrial Revolution,”  Chapter 5, Foresight Africa 2020 Report.  

Frida Ghitis, “Mike Pompeo Is A Terrible Advocate For Press Freedom,”  February 5, 2020, The Washington Post. 

Robbie Gramer, “Meet Pete Buttigiege’s Foreign Policy Mentor [Doug Wilson],”  February 2020, Foreign Policy.  

Paul Hare, “Public Diplomacy and Soft Power? No Thanks, It’s America First,”  February 18, 2020, CPD Blog, USC Center for Public Diplomacy. 

Filicia Istad, “Gender in Public Diplomacy,”  February 20, 2020, CPD Blog, USC Center for Public Diplomacy. 

Colum Lynch and Robbie Gramer, “Trump Loyalist Appointed to Oversee Relations With U.N., World Health Organization,”  March 4, 2020, Foreign Policy. 

Alasdair MacDonald, “The Sources of Soft Power,”  February 2020, The British Council. 

Joseph S. Nye, Jr., “No, President Trump: You’ve Weakened America’s Soft Power,”  February25, 2020, The New York Times; “Why Morals Matter in Foreign Policy,”  January 8, 2020, Project Syndicate. 

“The Passing of F. Allen ‘Tex’ Harris,”  February 2020, The American Foreign Service Association; Matt Schudel, “‘Tex’ Harris, U.S. Diplomat Who Exposed Human Rights Abuses in Argentina, Dies at 81,”  February 29, 2020, The Washington Post; Marten Edward Anderson, “The Legacy of Late State Department Human Rights Champion Tex Harris Reverberates Today,”  March 3, 2020, Just Security. 

“2020 Walter Roberts Lecture [Joseph S. Nye, Jr.]: Video and Photos,”  80 minutes, February 10, 2020, Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication, GWU. 

Anubhav Roy, “The Trouble With India’s Soft Power Apparatus,”  February 28, 2020, The Diplomat. 

Michael Rubin, “How to Make the U.S. State Department Great Again,”  February 17, 2020, The National Interest. 

Kori Schake, “The State Department’s Dysfunction Predates Pompeo,”  January 31, 2020, Bloomberg Opinion. 

Mark J. Valencia, “China Needs To Up Its Public Diplomacy Game Regarding The South China Sea – Analysis,”  January 11, 2020, Eurasia Review. 

Vivian S. Walker, “Geopolitical Illiteracy and Public Diplomacy,”  March 2, 2020, CPD Blog, USC Center for Public Diplomacy. 

Jian (Jay) Wang, “Why Dubai World Expo Matters,”  February 11, 2020, CPD Blog, USC Center for Public Diplomacy. 

Robin Wright, “Ambassador Bill Taylor on Impeachment, Russia, and the Law of the Jungle,”  February 8, 2020, The New Yorker.

Gem From The Past  

Kenneth A. Osgood and Brian C. Etheridge, eds., The United States and Public Diplomacy: New Directions in Cultural and International History,  (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2010).  Don’t be misled by the title.  Half of the chapters in this volume assess the public diplomacy of countries other than the United States.  Ten years on, this compilation is worth another look.  The scholarship overall is excellent.  The essays combine informed theoretical concepts and historical perspective with careful empirical research.  Prominent themes include relations between cultural diplomacy and civil society, ethnic groups as agents and targets of public diplomacy, the impact of domestic politics and public diplomacy programs, public diplomacy as an instrument of power, and the roles of private individuals and non-state actors.  Four chapters in particular stand out. 
— Osgood (Colorado School of Mines) and Etheridge (Kennesaw State University), “Introduction: The New International History Meets the New Cultural History: Public Diplomacy and U.S. Foreign Relations.” 
— Jessica C.E. Gienow-Hecht (Free University of Berlin), “The Anomaly of the Cold War: Cultural Diplomacy and Civil Society Since 1850.” 
 — Giles Scott-Smith (Leiden University), “Networks of Influence: US Exchange Programs and Western Europe in the 1980s.”
— Justin Hart (Texas Tech University), “Foreign Relations as Domestic Affairs: The Role of the ‘Public’ in the Origins of U.S. Public Diplomacy.”  

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