Public Diplomacy: Books, Articles, Websites #54 (by Bruce Gregory)

Courtesy of Bruce Gregory, Professor of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University.

January 3, 2011
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

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Event: The Role and Relevance of Multilateral Diplomacy in U.S. Foreign Policy

The American Foreign Service Association (“The Voice of the Foreign Service”) is convening a new series of events linked to the cover story on its monthly flagship publication, the Foreign Service Journal. The first event highlighting the December 2010 FSJ article on multilateral diplomacy will take place at 3p on 11 January at AFSA. A panel to discuss the topic “The Role and Relevance of Multilateral Diplomacy in US Foreign Policy” will include:

  • Dr. Esther Brimmer,  Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs.
  • Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO), Member of House Foreign Affairs and outgoing chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight.
  • Brett Schaefer, Jay Kingham Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs at the Heritage Foundation’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom.
  • Retired Foreign Service Officer and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, Molly Williamson will moderate.

RSVPs are required, and should be sent to events@afsa.org by January 10.

AFSA is located at 2101 E St NW, Washington, DC 20006.

Hitting Bottom at Foggy Bottom at ForeignPolicy.com

My article “Hitting Bottom at Foggy Bottom” is online at ForeignPolicy.com:

Discussion over the fate of Foggy Bottom usually focuses on the tenure of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the troubles of public diplomacy, and the rise of special envoys on everything from European pipelines to Afghanistan and Pakistan. But Americans would benefit more from a reassessment of the core functionality of the U.S. State Department.

Years of neglect and marginalization, as well as a dearth of long-term vision and strategic planning, have left the 19th-century institution hamstrung with fiefdoms and bureaucratic bottlenecks. The Pentagon now funds and controls a wide range of foreign-policy and diplomatic priorities — from development to public diplomacy and beyond. The world has changed, with everyone from politicians to talking heads to terrorists directly influencing global audiences. The most pressing issues are stateless: pandemics, recession, terrorism, poverty, proliferation, and conflict. But as report after report, investigation after investigation, has highlighted, the State Department is broken and paralyzed, unable to respond to the new 21st-century paradigm. …

Read the rest at ForeignPolicy.com. Originally titled “Fixing State” (my title was too staid and the “State of State” was taken), it highlights forgotten or ignored structural and capacity issues at State that contributed to Defense leadership in foreign policy and public diplomacy.

Related Posts:

Preparing to Lose the Information War? is a related post that gets into some detail where “Hitting Bottom” is high level.

Comparing the Areas of Responsibility of State and Defense gives a bit more detail on converting State to a regional actor.

USAID challenges reflect greater problems at the State Department looks at the importance of development. (See also The Intended ‘Psychological By-Products’ of Development on the psychological effects of the Marshall Plan; and from last year, USAID and Public Diplomacy.)

House Appropriations Concerned Pentagon’s Role in Strategic Communication and Public Diplomacy examines the theory of House Appropriations and Walter Pincus that “State should be doing this”.

Defense Department Plan on Strategic Communication and Science and Technology is a report that noted a need for leadership and coordination in strategic communication programs earlier this year.

American public diplomacy wears combat boots from May 2008 highlighted the leadership in basic engagement the Defense Department was exercising in the absence of an effective alternative.

Developing a National Strategic Communication and Public Diplomacy Strategic also from May 2008 highlights Congressman Adam Smith’s (D-Wash) effort to get the country’s efforts in global engagement on track.

The Cost of Keeping the Principal off the X from October 2007 is particularly relevant post on State’s view of the world. This issue resurfaced with the recent “outing” of the behavior of both the contracted Kabul security and the lack of action by the Department. See also an event I put on October 2006 titled American Mercenaries of Public Diplomacy.

Defining Public Diplomacy (again)

Here’s my latest working definition of public diplomacy.

The purpose of public diplomacy is to identify, empower, encourage (and possibly equip) self-organizing systems. The self-organizing systems engaged should be those that currently or potentially support, directly or indirectly, the foreign policy objectives of the public diplomacy-sponsoring actor. The support networks of groups that oppose or compete with the same foreign policy objectives should also be engaged as minds can be changed.

Your comments are appreciated.

Public Diplomacy by Proxy

Go Trojans!The Los Angeles Times story on Private Security "Guards" (companies) in Iraq largely stems from the recent AEGIS "trophy video", but is largely an emotional reaction to larger and deeper issues that is barely touches on. Perhaps that is the limitation of the mainstream media, especially for an above the fold story like this one, but is the door into the larger debate over appropriateness and inappropriateness of private military forces.

A recent public opinion
poll shows an increasing concern that Washington is too quick to use a
military response, including private security companies that augment
"real" military force, to foreign policy challenges in lieu of soft
power alternatives. Falling outside of normal legislative oversight,
private military forces are contracted, deployed, managed, and paid
through the civilian leadership of the Defense Department and State
Department and other civilian departments (CACI, the Abu Ghraib
interegators came in through a Department of the Interior contract).

Much of what the article says has already been written about here on this site, including

  • "Security firms operating in Iraq have been cited for fraud and have clashed with U.S. forces" … see Zapata Engineering story (additional here) for one example (there are more)
  • "critics say, the contractors are expensive, reckless mercenaries who complicate the U.S. mission in Iraq" … see Consequences
  • "The private guards’ sometimes aggressive behavior has created a wellspring of anger at the U.S. presence in Iraq….Countless Iraqis have had to endure the humiliation of being forced to stop or pull off the road as a convoy of unmarked SUVs races past, filled with men waving guns and making threatening gestures…."This is not a particularly effective way to win the hearts and minds of Iraqis," said Joshua Schwartz, co-director of George Washington University’s government procurement program. "The contractors are making the mission of the U.S. military in Iraq more difficult." … see Potential Cost and the rest of the Private Military company section on this site.

Afforded perceived deniable accountability back to the White House for private military activities allows a freer hand in engagement policies extending military options in foreign policy without Congressional or public oversight. Clumsy attempts by the civilian leadership to use private military forces as indirect ambassadors and instruments of American foreign policy are paid back with public and embarrassing actions such as those portrayed in the Los Angeles Times article, among many now appearing with increasing frequency in mainstream media.

This Administration really does not get it, as this story about how undersecretary of state for public diplomacy Karen Hughes "believes that how we treat prisoners in the ‘global war on terror’ is unlikely to have a serious adverse affect on how people think of the United States." The war, as the Morocco Times puts it, "has entered a new phase":

The US and its allies must learn to separate al-Qaeda from its base of support. I am referring to the base that is not made of terrorists but of millions of ordinary Muslims and Arabs who feel disfranchised and marginalized in their own societies while the US happily supports and makes deals with their oppressors. If it really wants to win over this base, the administration must change its terms of engagement with the Muslim world and begin an honest dialogue. Washington must make serious efforts to alter the common view of decades-long of American exploitation and manipulation….

The administration has systematically ignored the multiple root causes of terrorism and as a result the US will end prolonging the war indefinitely at a terrible and debilitating cost. For this reason, the administration must begin immediately an earnest campaign, as extensive as is necessary, to win the hearts of the masses who now form the essential support for al-Qaeda and other extremist groups. Concurrently, the administration must establish a time-table for complete withdrawal from Iraq and in doing so abandon the illusion that it can bring order there or cripple any terrorist group operating there before it permanently departs.

This should be on Hughes’ reading list, but it probably isn’t. It should be on Rice’s too, but she clearly is not concerned with other points of view, believing foreign policy stems for isolated national interest and “not from the interests of an “illusory international community”

How do we promote our beliefs if we pick and choose very selectively?