Another US Deficit – China and America – Public Diplomacy in the Age of the Internet

Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN)The Senate Foreign Relations Committee released its report on the imbalance of public diplomacy activities between China and the United States. Entitled “Another U.S. Deficit – China and America – Public Diplomacy in the Age of the Internet,” this is the final version of the report I reviewed on 11 February. Commissioned by Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), the Ranking Member of the Committee, the report is a unique and necessary review of Chinese Government engagement in America. The report also highlights Chinese obstruction of reciprocity and U.S. Government failure to act, notably in the area of information freedom initiatives.

The timing of this report is critical. It comes on the heels of the recent U.S. visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao. More importantly, it comes at a time when the U.S. diplomacy budget, public and otherwise (is there really any diplomacy that is not in some part negotiated in public?), is under threat in today’s austere budget environment. At risk is the development and implementation of smart policies that, coupled with unfettered access to information to create knowledge, ultimately have a greater and more enduring bang for the buck than the kinetic effect of any smart munition.

Senator Lugar closes his letter that opens the report, a 2-page letter that you should read if you do not have the time or inclination to read even the report’s executive summary, with the hope the report will “stimulate dialogue within Congress.” It certainly should.

Read the report here (1.55mb PDF).

See also:

Defense and Strategic Communication: what did Congress ask for before the recess?

Much has been made of made of Congressional concerns over the Defense Department’s role in strategic communication and as the de facto leading public diplomat in policy, engagement, and personnel. At first the lack of informed media coverage – and shallow or error-filled when it exists – is ironic considering the subject, but there it is part of a trend when considering that in general public diplomacy and the laws governing it are also subject to misinformation and misinterpretation (PDF, 140kb).
When The Washington Post reported on July 28 on the House Appropriations decision to slash $500 million from the estimated Defense budget request for strategic communication programs – for 10 (ten) programs which should have been “IO” (information operations) programs, a minor difference – Walter Pincus mentioned requests from the House and Senate Armed Services Committees (HASC and SASC, respectively) that preceded the House Appropriations – Defense Subcommittee (HACD) action. For your reference, the actionable items for the Defense Department in the area of strategic communication from the reports of the HASC, SASC, and HACD are below.

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