first appeared at mountainrunner.substack.com on 7 February 2023. It has been modified slightly for clarity. Subscribe to my free substack for new posts through email, the web, or through the substack app. Posts are copied here when I get around to it. However, in the case of this post, it originated here at the MountainRunner blog in September 2018 before going to the substack, so now it has returned in a revised form.
I started to write a different article that opened with this question: Can a term represent both a symptom and cause of a dumpster fire? Yes, unequivocally. The term in question is “public diplomacy,” and it was adopted – it was not “coined,” please stop writing it was “coined”1 – in 1965 as part of a public relations campaign to further segregate and elevate the activities of one bureaucracy to be at least on par with another. The US Information Agency operated for more than a decade without this term, and the State Department had managed to run more than USIA’s relatively small portfolio for nearly a decade prior. Despite this, there is surprisingly little serious inquiry let alone understanding into why “public diplomacy” emerged in 1965 as part of a name at a center established at Tufts University. I don’t want, nor do I really have the time right now, so read my chapter on Google Books that discusses the common use of the term before 1965. For now, it is easy to stipulate the confusion around what is, and is not public diplomacy, and who does, and does not, “do” public diplomacy, derives from its original application to an agency and not to activities, methods, or outcomes. The result has been catastrophic programmatically, conceptually, and organizationally.Continue reading “Eisenhower, Dulles, and USIA: can the past provide lessons for the present? (Or, “The rhyming history of US public diplomacy”) “