by Bruce Gregory*
Sean Aday, Henry Farrell, Marc Lynch, John Sides, and Dean Freelon, New Media and Conflict After the Arab Spring: Blogs and Bullets II. United States Institute of Peace, Peaceworks No. 80, July 2012. Aday, Farrell, Lynch, Sides (George Washington University) and Freelon (American University) follow up their Blogs and Bullets in Contentious Politics(2010) study with an analysis of the role of social media in four Arab Spring protests (Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Bahrain). Using the analytical framework from the earlier study, they empirically test claims of “cyberoptimists” and “cyberskeptics” through research on data from bit.ly linkages (a URL shortening technology associated with Twitter, Facebook, and other digital media). Two findings stand out. (1) New media that use bit.ly linkages “did not appear to play a significant role in either in-country collective action or regional diffusion.” (2) “It is increasingly difficult to separate new media from old media. In the Arab Spring, the two reinforced each other.”
Clifford Bob, The Global Right Wing and the Clash of World Politics, (Cambridge University Press, 2012). Bob (Duquesne University, author of The Marketing of Rebellion: Insurgents, Media, and International Activism, 2006) examines clashes between transnational activists promoting human rights, environmental, and global justice issues and rival networks of conservative activists promoting alternative goals. Too much of the literature, he argues, has focused narrowly on global society as a more or less harmonious field of progressive NGOs. Rather, scholars need to analyze a “contentious arena riven by fundamental differences criss-crossing national and international boundaries” in which networked activists hold irreconcilable values and spurn deliberation and compromise. Includes Bob’s analytical framework, case studies, and assessments based on extensive documentation and interviews with key actors.
Cormac Callanan and Hein Dries-Ziekenheiner, Safety on the Line: Exposing the Myth of Mobile Communications Security, Report supported by the Broadcasting Board of Governors and Freedom House, July 2012. In this report, commissioned by the US government’s Broadcasting Board of Governors in association with the US-based NGO Freedom House, consultants Callanan (Aconite Internet Solutions, Ireland) and Dries-Ziekenheiner (VIGLO, The Netherlands) assess market data, mobile use habits, mobile technologies, and security risks in using mobile devices. They studied mobile phone uses in 12 countries: Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Egypt, Iran, Libya, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. The authors call for greater cooperation among mobile phone and operating system industries, funders of anti-censorship technologies, and mobile security app developers.
Manuel Castells, Communication Power, (Oxford University Press, 2009, paperback edition 2011). In this deeply researched update to his Information Age trilogy on the network society, Castells (University of Southern California) puts his central theme as a question: “Where does power lie in the global network society?” His “working hypothesis is that the most fundamental form of power lies in the ability to shape the human mind,” because the “way we feel and think determines the way we act.” Castells’ study is a theoretical inquiry into “the connection between communication and political power at the frontier between cognitive science, communication research, political psychology, and political communication.” He develops his concepts through empirical analysis of global networks (markets, culture, media, education, religion, crime, entertainment, and social movements) and case studies of the state and media framing, global warming, anti-corporate globalization movements, the Iraq war, and the 2008 Obama presidential primary campaign.
Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan, (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012). Drawing on numerous interviews with diplomats, soldiers, aid workers, and policymakers, Washington Post reporter Chandrasekaran portrays a “good war” that “turned bad.” Vignettes of a few exceptionally capable soldiers and civilians stand out. But overall, widespread incompetence, infighting, and dysfunction dominate. “Our government was incapable of meeting the challenge,” he argues. “Our generals and diplomats were too ambitious and arrogant. Our uniformed and civilian bureaucracies were rife with internal rivalries and go-it-alone agendas. Our development experts were inept. Our leaders were distracted.” His account also is sharply critical of Afghan deficiencies, and unsparing in its assessment of operational shortcomings of British, Canadian, German, and other allies. The book will be useful to analysts of “guerrilla diplomacy” and an “expeditionary foreign service.”
Karin Fisher, “On International Education, the Obama Administration’s Rhetoric Doesn’t Always Match Reality,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 4, 2012. The Chronicle’s international education reporter discusses gaps between the Obama administration’s strong rhetorical commitment to academic and cultural exchanges and actions perceived as superficial and falling short of raised expectations. Fisher looks at funding cuts in student aid, university partnerships, and foreign language programs; regulatory issues relating to visa policies, academic travel to Cuba, and Confucius Institutes; and new reporting and oversight rules adopted by the Departments of Education and Homeland Security.
Global Opinion of Obama Slips, International Policies Faulted, Pew Research Center, Global Attitudes Project, June 13, 2012. In a survey of 21 countries, Pew finds that “Global approval of President Barack Obama’s international policies has declined significantly since he first took office, but overall confidence in him and attitudes toward the U.S. have slipped only modestly as a consequence.” Key findings: Drone strikes are widely opposed. Many, especially in Europe, view China as the world’s economic leader. Europeans and Japanese remain largely confident in Obama; Muslim publics remain largely critical. Just 7% of Pakistanis view Obama positively. Well-regarded aspects of American soft power include its way of doing business; US science and technology; American music, movies, and television; US popular culture; and American ideas about democracy.
InterMedia, Building Support for International Development: Government Decision-makers’ Perceptions of Celebrities as Champions for International Development, Topic Report 1/4, 2012. This report — part of a larger study based on surveys and interviews with citizens and government officials in France, Germany, the UK and the US — examines government perceptions of benefits and drawbacks in engaging celebrities to advance development goals. InterMedia’s Building Support for International Development project, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, includes an overall report, five country reports, and four topic reports. Other topic reports focus on public opinion, research organizations, and the role of non-profit organizatons in international development. InterMedia is a global research and evaluation consulting firm.
John Robert Kelley, “The Agenda-Setting Power of Epistemic Communities in Public Diplomacy,” Paper delivered at the International Studies Association Annual Conference, San Diego, April 2012. Kelley (American University) builds on his earlier arguments about the public diplomacy roles of nonstate actors through idea entrepreneurship, agenda setting, mobilizing, and gatekeeping. In this paper, he looks at the question of which ideas matter through an examination of links between idea generation and the power of agenda setting. He gives particular attention to the thinking of Antonio Gramsci and neo-Gramscian critical theory. Kelley discusses relevant literature, profiles patterns of idea entrepreneurship by epistemic communities, argues the case for their role as public diplomats acting in a nonstate capacity, and offers ideas for research.
Pauline Kerr and Geoffrey Wiseman, eds., Diplomacy in a Globalizing World: Theories and Practices, (Oxford University Press, 2012). The twenty-three chapters compiled by Kerr (Australian National University) and Wiseman (University of Southern California) in this textbook are a significant contribution to the study and practice of 21st century diplomacy. The authors examine “diplomacy’s historical and contemporary developments; Western and non-Western diplomatic theories and practices; sociological and political theories of diplomacy; and various diplomatic structures, processes, and instruments.” The chapters, written by senior scholars, are intended to engage students, teachers, and practitioners. Pedagogical tools include general and special glossaries; reader’s guides, key points, and discussion questions in each chapter; and separate online companion websites for students and instructors.
Public diplomacy scholars and practitioners will find particularly useful overviews on contemporary diplomacy in the editors’ introduction and conclusion and the following chapters:
Brian Hocking (Loughborough University), “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Diplomatic System,” Chapter 7.
Jovan Kurbalija (DiploFoundation), “The Impact of the Internet and ICT on Contemporary Diplomacy,” Chapter 8.
Jan Melissen, (Netherlands Institute of International Affairs Clingendael and University of Antwerp), “Public Diplomacy,” Chapter 9.
Pauline Kerr and Brendan Taylor (Australian National University), “Track Two Diplomacy in East Asia,” Chapter 13.
Ye Zicheng and Zhang Qingmin (Peking University), “China’s Contemporary Diplomacy,” Chapter 16.
Lina Khatib, William Dutton, and Michael Thelwall, “Public Diplomacy 2.0: A Case Study of the US Digital Outreach Team,” The Middle East Journal, Volume 66, Number 3, Summer 2012, 453-472. Khatib (Stanford University), Dutton (Oxford University) and Thelwall (University of Wolverhampton) analyze the potential and challenges that faced a ten person Department of State Digital Outreach Team (DOT) seeking to participate in Internet discussions of President Obama’s Cairo speech in 2009. The authors provide an overview of literature relevant to uses of social media in diplomacy and trends in US strategy from a “war of ideas” to “global engagement.” The case study is based on content analysis of themes and rhetorical style, on interpretations of attitudes toward the DOT and US policies, and on interviews with members of the DOT regarding its methods and intended audience. A thoughtful discussion of the findings, strengths, and limitations of the case, as well as reflections on whether Public Diplomacy 2.0 is worth it, make this a key read on a cutting edge issue. An earlier pdf version of the article is posted online at Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, Working Paper 120, January 2011.
William P. Kiehl, ed., The Last Three Feet: Case Studies in Public Diplomacy, Public Diplomacy Council, 2012. A collection of cases on public diplomacy in overseas contexts written by current and former US Department of State practitioners. Includes chapters on China (Beatrice Camp), Bahrain (Rachel Graaf Leslie), Turkey (Elizabeth McKay), Indonesia (Michael H. Anderson), Brazil (Jean Manes), Iraq (Aaron Snipe), Pakistan (Walter Douglas), and “Successful Public Diplomacy Officers in the Future” (Bruce Wharton). The book is based on a conference held in November 2011 at George Washington University co-sponsored by the Public Diplomacy Council, GW’s Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication, and the Walter Roberts Endowment. The book also includes conference keynote remarks by US Ambassador to Brazil Thomas Shannon, an interview with US Public Diplomacy Envoy Michelle Kwan, and interviews with public diplomacy practitioners at overseas missions.
Thomas Lum, Patricia Moloney Figliola, and Matthew C. Weed, China, Internet Freedom, and U.S. Policy, CRS Report R42601, Congressional Research Service, July 13, 2012. In this report for Congress, three Congressional Research Service analysts discuss China’s Internet environment; the Chinese government’s Internet censorship systems; and links between the Internet, human rights, and US foreign policy towards China. Major themes: the Internet as a US policy tool for promoting freedom of expression in China, uses of the Internet by political dissidents, the roles of US Internet companies in China, development of US Internet freedom policies globally, and promotion of Internet freedom by the Bush Administration’s Global Internet Freedom Task Force, the Obama Administration’s NetFreedom Task Force, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and the US Department of State.
Andrew MacKay and Steve Tatham, Behavioural Conflict: Why Understanding People and Their Motivations Will Prove Decisive in Future Conflicts, (Military Studies Press, 2011). Mackay (Major General, ret., British Army) and Tatham (Commander, British Royal Navy) bring years of experience in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Lebanon, Sierra Leone, and Afghanistan to this study of psychological understanding and influence in contemporary armed conflict. Their central argument is that people’s behavior and an ability to understand and alter that behavior is becoming “the defining characteristic” of modern warfare. Their books includes case studies, conceptual and practical issues in strategic communication, and suggestions of what influence and perception might entail in future conflicts. Includes a foreword by US General (ret.) Stanley McChrystal, an introduction by economist and journalist Tim Harford, and a concluding chapter on “The Science of Influence” by Lee Rowland (Behavioural Dynamics Institute).
Carter Malkasian and J. Kael Weston, “War Downsized: How to Accomplish More With Less,” Foreign Affairs, March/April, 2012, 111-121. Former State Department Political Officers Malkasian (now at the Center for Naval Analysis) and Weston discuss the limitations of a full “counterinsurgency strategy” in Afghanistan (no longer sustainable) and a pure “counterterrorism strategy” (scarcely more attractive). Their alternative: relying more on “small, elite advisory teams, living out in the field and working side by side with their Afghan counterparts,” as well as on special operations forces and airpower, in a gradual withdrawal that leaves thousands of US military and civilian advisors in the country after 2014. For this to work, civilian and military advisors would forego “the giant bases and quick-reaction forces that now epitomize the Western way of war.” For a profile of Malkasian’s work as a State Department Officer in Afghanistan, see Rajiv Chandrasekaran, “In Afghanistan’s Garmser District, Praise for a U.S. Official’s Tireless Work,” The Washington Post, August 13, 2011.
James Mann, The Obamians: The Struggle Inside the White House to Redefine American Power, (Viking, 2012). Mann (a former journalist now in residence at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and author of Rise of the Vulcans, 2004) assesses the Obama administration’s foreign policy and its new generation of “largely unknown young advisors.” Includes in-depth profiles of Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communication Ben Rhodes, Special Assistant to the President and the National Security Council’s Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs Samantha Power, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Fluornoy, US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, and former Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg.
Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses: 2012 Edition, American Council on Education, June 27, 2012. Based on survey data from 3,357 US accredited, degree granting institutions, this is the Council’s third report in ten years (earlier reports in 2001 and 2006). Key findings: internationalization has accelerated in recent years and has senior-level support, assessment of internationalization efforts and development of student learning outcomes have risen substantially, hiring faculty with international experience is more common, faculty tenure and promotion policies are often overlooked, and international collaboration takes many forms but involves a minority of US campuses.
Evgeny Morozov, “The Folly of Kindle Diplomacy” Slate.com, June 21, 2012. Morozov (Visiting Scholar at Stanford University, and author of The Net Delusion, 2011) assesses the US Department of State’s announced intent to partner with Amazon in a $16.5 million purchase of up to 35,000 Kindles to include approximately $10 million in Kindle books for libraries, reading rooms, and cultural centers. He finds the rationale “solid — at least in theory.” Saves money. Problematic and censored books can be read without attracting government censors. Promotes the US image as a technology leader. Morozov challenges the plan, however, as likely to be counterproductive, “in an era of Flame and Stuxnet,” when the US government engineers spyware that exploits software vulnerabilities. He also questions the selection of Amazon “with no competitive tender.” US diplomats should experiment with new media technologies, he argues, but do so “in full awareness that their benign intentions might be misinterpreted and occasionally backfire.
Coincidentally or not, on August 15, 2012 the State Department announced cancellation of a $16.5 million order for Amazon’s Kindle touch pads, stating it intends additional market research and a review of requirements for the program.
Steven Lee Myers, “Hillary Clinton’s Last Tour as a Rock-Star Diplomat,” The New York Times Magazine, June 27, 2012. Journalist Myers profiles Secretary of State Clinton’s place in the Obama administration, her pragmatic approach to diplomacy, implications of her celebrity and experience as a politician, her policy priorities, and her views on “smart power.”
Martha C. Nussbaum, The New Religious Intolerance: Overcoming the Politics of Fear in an Anxious Age, (Belknap Press, 2012). Nussbaum (University of Chicago) looks at ways in which narcissistic fear of religious and cultural differences have influenced politics and ideas about national identity in the US and Europe since 9/11. With arguments grounded in literature, history, law, and philosophy, Nussbaum examines cases that include laws banning burqas and headscarfs in Europe, Switzerland’s campaign against minarets on mosques, and the proposed Muslim cultural center in lower Manhatten. She urges an approach that combines political principles that reflect ample and equal respect for conscience, rigorous and impartial critical thinking, and systematic cultivation of imaginative capacities that seek to transcend self-privilege and the narcissism of anxiety.
James Pamment, “What Became of the New Public Diplomacy: Recent Developments in British, US and Swedish Public Diplomacy Policy and Evaluation Methods,” The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, Volume 7, No. 3, 2012, 337-349. Pamment (Karlstad University) explores relationships between “new public diplomacy” concepts and recent attempts by governments in the UK, the US, and Sweden to develop public diplomacy strategies. He summarizes policy debates and assesses evaluation methods in each country. His case studies lead him to two conclusions. First, although improved evaluation methods are important in the new public diplomacy in each country, their role in the practice and culture of public diplomacy institutions is “unresolved and ongoing.” Second, any paradigm shift from old to new public diplomacy in practice is grounded in “domestic and organizational concerns rather than the achievement of normative goals such as increased dialogue with foreign citizens.”
Christopher Paul, “Challenges Facing U.S. Government and Department of Defense Efforts in Strategic Communication,” Public Relations Review, Volume 38, Issue 2, June 2012, 188-194. Paul, (RAND, author of Strategic Communication: Origins, Concepts, and Current Debates, 2011), examines challenges to US government strategic communication and suggestions for meeting them. Challenges include: (1) popular resentment and distrust abroad, (2) difficulties in measuring effectiveness, (3) less constrained adversaries competing in the same information environment, (4) low priority, and (5) negative consequences of expedient choices. His suggestions include “requiring desired information endstates as part of commander’s intent and separating efforts to manipulate and deceive from truthful efforts to inform, influence, and persuade.”
PBS Newshour, “With High Youth Unemployment, Making Sense of Summer Work Visas for Foreigners,” August 17, 2012. The Newshour reports (video & text) on economic, employment, cultural exchange, and oversight issues associated with the US Department of State’s J-1 visa program. Correspondent Paul Solmon interviews US employers, international students holding J-1 visas, US summer work employees, and representatives of the Department of State and the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange (the flagship lobby for US exchange organizations).
Pew Research Center, Most Muslims Want Democracy, Personal Freedoms and Islam in Political Life, Global Attitudes Project, July 10, 2012. Pew finds a continuing strong desire for democracy, including competitive elections and free speech, as “the best form of government” in six predominantly Muslim countries. Key findings: (1) Substantial support for “a large role for Islam in political life” with “significant differences over the degree to which the legal system should be based on Islam.” (2) Few believe the US backs democracy in the Middle East. (3) The economy is a top concern and trumps a good democracy in Jordan, Tunisia, and Pakistan. (4) Majorities believe women an men should have equal rights. The survey was conducted in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Tunisia, and Turkey from March 19 to April 20, 2012.
David E. Sanger, Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power, (Crown Publishers, 2012). The New York Times’ chief Washington correspondent’s latest book focuses on the Obama administration’s strategies in dealing with Iran, Israel, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Arab Spring, China, and North Korea — and its aggressive use of drones and development of cyberwar capabilities. There is much in his book for public diplomacy scholars and practitioners. Analysis of “engagement” as “just a tactic, not a real strategy.” Frustrations, voiced on background by US diplomats in Pakistan, on their difficulties in responding to critics of US drone attacks on Pakistani TV due to Obama’s relative silence in justifying their use. A post-Arab Spring assessment of Obama’s Cairo speech. Lots of both on the record and background framing by Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communication Ben Rhodes and other senior officials. Seven pages contrasting the Voice of America’s shortcomings with its successful Parazit Persian language and Iran targeted comedy program modeled on The Daily Show. Sanger’s assessment: “It would be wonderful to imagine that this stroke of brilliance arose from some ingenious thinking in the White House Situation Room or a conference over at the State Department. No such luck. It was entirely the brainchild of Hosseini and Arbabi (the show’s Iranian born stars) who do not exactly fit the VOA mold.” And much more.
Anne-Marie Slaughter, “A Grand Strategy of Network Centrality,” Chapter 3, 45-55, in America’s Path: Grand Strategy for the Next Administration, Center for a New American Security (CNAS), May 2012. Slaughter (Princeton University) calls for a US grand strategy that understands “the ubiquity and density of global networks” and policies “that operate simultaneously in the world of states and the world of society.” States, she argues, should seek positions close to the center of critical networks so as “to mobilize, orchestrate and create networks.” The biggest challenges are choosing which networks to be part of, knowing how to advance US interests within them, and fostering networked solutions to global problems without direct US participation. Slaughter takes care to recognize a role for states as sovereign units in some “high-stakes negotiations,” but increasingly 21st century strategies will privilege effective participation in “ever-changing and ever-denser” interdependent relations among states and mixed networks of public, private, and civic actors. Her essay is one of four chapters in this publication edited by CNAS President Richard Fontaine and Executive Vice President Kristin M. Lord.
U.S. Government Accountability Office, DOD Strategic Communication: Integrating Foreign Audience Perceptions into Policy Making, Plans, and Operations, GAO-12-612R, May 2012. GAO’s largely descriptive report, consisting of a cover letter to the US Senate Armed Services Committee and images of powerpoint slides, summarizes long-standing and what it describes as unsuccessful efforts by the Defense Department and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to clarify the meaning of strategic communication and provide operational guidance on its use. The report describes “(1) DOD’s approach to strategic communication, (2) the initial actions that DOD has taken to implement this approach, and (3) DOD’s plans to reflect the roles of its interagency partners in strategic communication.”
Matthew Wallin, The New Public Diplomacy Imperative: America’s Vital Need to Communicate Strategically, White Paper, American Security Project, August 2012. In this 40-page paper, Wallin (Policy Analyst, American Security Project, Public Diplomacy MA graduate, University of Southern California) offers a definition of public diplomacy, discusses its meaning and importance in national security, and examines structural problems and challenges in US public diplomacy. His paper analyzes 8 case studies: The Cairo Promises, Branding the Global War on Terror, The Shared Values Initiative, Al Hurra TV, The Karen Hughes Listening Tour, Disaster Relief in Indonesia and Pakistan, The Obama Presidency, and The Tor (internet anonymity software) Project. He assesses 10 best practices: understand the policy objective, establish a communications goal, identify the target audience, listen, establish a narrative, be truthful, follow through on policy commitments, use force multipliers, don’t reinvent the wheel, and select appropriate medium(s). He also discusses the importance of metrics and evaluation.
Erika A. Yepsen, Practicing Successful Twitter Diplomacy: A Model and Case Study of U.S. Efforts in Venezuela, CPD Perspectives on Public Diplomacy, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, Paper 6, 2012. Yepsen (an active duty US Air Force Public Affairs Officer and George Mason University MA graduate) combines an overview of recent public diplomacy scholarship with research on the use of Twitter by the US Embassy in Venezuela. Her paper examines Twitter policy limitations for US diplomats that “can steer them away from the very conversations that hold the most potential value.” Yepsen also identifies limitations in current Twitter research and proposes an “opinion leader network model” as a means to successful engagement. She tests the model in her case study of Twitter networks in Venezuela and the US Embassy’s Twitter engagement.
In a review of Yepsen’s paper, CPD Research Fellow Anoush Rima Tatevossian calls her opinion leader research method “both robust and replicable.” It “would be useful in the toolkit of any public diplomat developing, or refining, his or her Twitter strategy: whether it be for tactical listening, strategic listening, or to actually venture into the terrain of two-way engagement.”
Recent Blogs of Interest
Robert Albro, “International Applied Humanities Networks and Global Cultural Engagement,” July 4, 2012. Posted on CPD Blog and Public Policy Anthropologist Blog.
Ali Fisher, “Smarter Networks and Collaborative Approaches Underpin the Response to 21st Century Diplomacy,” July 20, 2012. CPD Blog.
Adam Clayton Powell III, “Gallup/BBG Survey: ‘Massive’ Increase in Mobile Phone, Internet Use in Nigeria,” August 16, 2012. Posted on CPD Blog.
Gem from the Past
Ruth McMurry and Muna Lee, The Cultural Approach: Another Way in International Relations, (University of North Carolina Press, 1947). Another look at this excellent book, long out of print and gathering dust on the shelf, was prompted by Robin Brown’s (University of Leeds) reference to it in his recent ISA San Diego paper, “The Four Paradigms of Public Diplomacy: Building a Framework for Comparative Government External Communication Research,” April 2012. McMurry (a professor at Columbia University) and Lee (a journalist, translator, and researcher for Archibald MacLeish) joined the staff of the Department of State’s Bureau of Cultural Relations during World War II. The book is a comparative study of government-sponsored cultural relations programs in ten countries: France, Germany, Great Britain, the United States, the Soviet Union, Japan, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico.
*Bruce Gregory is an Adjunct Professor at George Washington University and Georgetown University, and publishes this list periodically via mailing list. We reprint it here as a service to our readers. Bruce can be reached by email via bgregory at gwu dot edu