Center for Strategic Communication

by Bruce Gregory*

Manan Ahmed, Where the Wild Frontiers Are: Pakistan and the American Imagination, (Just World Publishing, 2011).  The author of “Chapati Mystery” blog and a historian of Islam in South Asia (Freie Universitate Berlin) gathers his commentaries on US imaginings about Pakistan and historical and political trends within Pakistan.  Sharply critical, humorous, and well written, Ahmed’s short essays portray a failure on the part of American officials and writers in mainstream media to “imagine” the realities of Pakistan’s people and society.  Ahmed’s blogs make a case for deeper comprehension of relations between the two societies:  “Unless we decide to get local, to pay attention to local narratives, facts, histories, realities, languages, religions, ethnicities, cultures, and so forth, we will remain in this deeply flawed discourse.”  Includes a foreword by Amitava Kumar (Vassar College).

Robert M. Beecroft, “Taking Diplomatic Professional Education Seriously,” Foreign Service Journal, July/August 2011, 66-69.  Retired US Foreign Service Officer Beecroft argues the “new diplomacy” requires “a systematic regimen of professional diplomatic education at the Department of State.”  His article summarizes key findings and recommendations in the 2011 report sponsored by the Stimson Center and the American Academy of Diplomacy on Forging a 21st-Century Diplomatic Service Through Professional Education and Training.

Lee C. Bollinger, “News for the World — A Proposal for a Globalized Era: an American World Service,” Columbia Journalism Review, July/August 2011, 29-33.  Bollinger (Columbia University) finds (1) a contradiction between the need for global news and the diminished supply of foreign reporting; (2) a rise in national media intended to have a global presence (BBC World Service, Al Jazeera, Xinhua News Agency and CCTV, and France 24), (3) a continuing need for journalistic institutions to offset laissez-faire “citizen journalism;” and (4) a trend from local to regional to global in civil society institutions such as universities and the media.  He discusses America’s dual system of public broadcasting — the journalism of National Public Radio and PBS and international broadcasters such as Voice of America and RFE/RL, which are rooted in the Cold War and barred from broadcasting to US audiences by “constitutionally suspect” provisions of the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948.  Bollinger calls for an “American World Service” to provide a “stronger publicly funded system of international news.”

Rajiv Chandrasekaran, “In Afghanistan’s Garmser District, Praise for a U.S. Official’s Tireless Work,” The Washington Post, August 13, 2011. The Post’s correspondent and author of Imperial Life in the Emerald City (2006) profiles the work of State Department representative Carter Malkasian during his two year stay in Garmser on the Helmand River.  Chandrasekaran attributes Malkasian’s success to his Pashto fluency, sensitivity to local cultural norms, willingness to take risks, countless meetings and roadside conversations, residence in a local trailer, two-year  stay in one district, a “soft spoken manner” combined with “fierce negotiating skills,” his credibility with US troops, and his willingness as a temporary civilian hire to “to forge his own job description, even if it meant bucking the State Department’s rules.”  In a letter to the Post on August 23, 2011, US Ambassador Ryan Crocker comments that “hundreds of foreign service officers and other federal agency workers are doing similar work in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere.”

Jacob Comenetz, “Innovating Public Diplomacy for a New Digital World,” The Washington Diplomat, July 27, 2011. Contributing writer Comenetz discusses conceptual issues and operational challenges facing US diplomats in using social media tools.  His essay looks at (1) implications of ideas on network power and “Internet Freedom” in the writings of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former State Department official Anne-Marie Slaughter; (2) projects and institutional changes in the Department’s public diplomacy bureaus; and (3) uses of digital technologies to create stealth networks and enable activists challenging regimes in Iran, Syria, Libya, and elsewhere.  Comenetz also summarizes contrasting views, drawing particularly on Evgeny Morozov’s critique in The Net Delusion (2010).

Paul Cornish, Julian Lindley-French, and Claire Yorke, Strategic Communications and National Strategy, A Chatham House Report, Royal Institute of International Affairs, September 2011.  Cornish (University of Bath), Lindley-French (Netherlands Defense Academy), and Yorke (Chatham House) call for a whole of government approach to strategic communication and increased awareness of its central role in the development and implementation of national strategy.  They argue the UK government has a good understanding of strategic communication’s importance, but this understanding is “relatively limited in its sophistication and imagination.”  Their recommendations fall into three categories:  (1) establish a clearer definition of strategic communication and its place in national strategy, (2) reform how strategic communication is managed within government, and (3) adapt and strengthen strategic communication in response to the challenges of new information technologies and cyber security.  (Courtesy of Robin Brown)

Mai’a K. Davis Cross, Security Integration in Europe: How Knowledge-based Networks Are Transforming the European Union, (The University of Michigan Press, 2011).  Cross (University of Southern California) argues the European Union has made significant advances in achieving internal and external security through collaboration in and among epistemic communities — i.e., knowledge-based transnational networks of diplomats, soldiers, scientists, civilian crisis professionals, and other areas of shared expertise. Her generally optimistic view of EU integration is grounded in her reading of the capacity of networks to supersede national governments in the diplomacy of “security decision making.”  Through their common culture, shared professional norms, frequent meetings, speed, and flexibility, epistemic communities are changing how we think about governance, diplomacy, and approaches to dealing with terrorism, immigration, cross-border crime, drug and human trafficking, and other transnational security threats.

“Diplomacy Post 9/11: Life in the US Foreign Service,” The Kojo Nnamdi Show, National Public Radio, September 22, 2011. Host Kojo Nnamdi interviews American Foreign Service Association President Susan Johnson, US Foreign Service Officer Matthew Asada, and US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter.  Issues discussed include tensions between security and fulfilling mission goals, changes in recruitment and promotion, training requirements, and debates between proponents of “a traditional service and an expeditionary service.”  Available in audio and transcript versions.  (Courtesy of Michelle Lee)

Ali Fisher and David Montez, Evaluating Online Public Diplomacy Using Digital Media Research Methods, A Case Study of #ObamainBrazil, InterMedia Global Research Network, July 2011 (available online through USC’s Center on Public DiplomacyIn this study, Fisher (Mappa Mundi Consulting) and Montez (InterMedia) (1) discuss research methods needed to develop, implement, and evaluate social media campaigns in public diplomacy; (2) assess the State Department’s use of digital media to support President Obama’s March 2011 visit to Brazil; and (3) offer recommendations for using social media in future public diplomacy campaigns.  They conclude that, to be effective, public diplomacy practitioners must adopt new research methods and strategies that take into account opportunities and constraints in using social media.

Kathy R. Fitzpatrick, U.S. Public Diplomacy in a Post-9/11 World: From Messaging to Mutuality, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, CPD Perspectives on Public Diplomacy, Paper 6, 2011.  Fitzpatrick (Quinnipiac University) finds a lack of consensus among scholars, practitioners, and informed observers on the methods and goals of public diplomacy in the decade since 9/11.  Her paper draws on dialogue theory to assess US public diplomacy during the Bush and Obama administrations and to create a prescriptive relational model that seeks to ground its practice in two-way “symmetric engagement.”

Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum, That Used To Be Us, (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011).  Using stories, interviews, and analysis, New York Times columnist Friedman and Johns Hopkins (SAIS) professor Mandelbaum assess the causes and implications of four challenges: globalization, the revolution in information technology, America’s chronic deficits, and its excessive energy consumption.  Their critique — intended as “both a wake up call and a call to collective action” — offers a change manifesto grounded in more and better education and different habits of saving and consumption.  Students and teachers will find useful their chapters on bottom up innovation and “creative creativity” as today’s necessary adjuncts to learning critical skills and mastering knowledge domains.

Amanda Foreman, A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War, (Random House, 2010).  Forman (University of London) puts the war in an international context with a focus on Britain’s policy of neutrality, deep opposition to slavery, and dependence on the South for cotton; the South’s need for British-made weapons and ships; and the North’s frequent consideration of war with Britain and efforts to block diplomatic and economic connections with the Confederacy.  Her massive (958 pages) and critically acclaimed study reinforces the correlation between US public diplomacy and armed conflict throughout American history.  She offers many fresh insights into the practice of traditional and public diplomacy midway between the American Revolution and World War I. Written from the perspective of political leaders, diplomats, soldiers, journalists, writers, and citizen activists, Foreman’s narrative includes a thorough assessment of the diplomatic and public opinion implications of the North’s capture of Confederate agents Mason and Slidell in the Trent affair, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, military successes and failures, and the political and economic interests all concerned.

Public diplomacy practitioners and scholars will find particularly interesting Foreman’s discussion of US Minister Charles Francis Adams’ skills in traditional diplomacy, which contrasted with his pronounced unwillingness to engage journalists and British publics; the methods and tools used by Thurlow Weed, sent by Secretary of State William Seward to influence European public opinion; the methods and tools used by the skilled, multi-lingual journalist Henry Hotze, who was recruited by the Confederacy to engage the press on behalf of the South’s Commission in London; Hotze’s pro-South journal the Index; the uneasy relationship between diplomats and spies; the influence of citizen activists and journalists with pro-South or pro-North sympathies; dissemination of unattributed speeches and editorials; and the roles of the telegraph, photographs, political cartoons, debates in Parliament, and non-governmental organizations in shaping public opinion.

Seward’s controversial release of all US diplomatic correspondence in the first half of 1862, motivated by domestic political considerations, proved deeply embarrassing to Adams who never imagined his letters would become public.  Britain’s political leaders and diplomats took this 19th century precursor to WikiLeaks in stride.

Peter W. Galbraith, “How to Write a Cable,” Foreign Policy, March/April 2011, 102-103.  The former US Ambassador to Croatia and Special Representative of the UN Secretary General to Afghanistan argues that, contrary to what Julian Assange might say, most diplomats “do not worry that the wrong people will read their cables, but that the right people won’t.”  With a twinkle in his eye, Galbraith in this short piece, offers this advice:  (1) “be strategically nasty,”  (2) “a spoonful of Ukrainian nurse helps the cable go down,” (3) accuracy is at a premium (except about the home team); (4) “pretend you’re a foreign correspondent — back in the glory days;” and (5) “be literate.”

Susan Gigli and Ali Fisher, “Networked Audiences: 10 Rules for Engagement,” The Channel (Association of International Broadcasters), Issue 2, 2011.  Gigli (InterMedia) and Fisher (Mappa Mundi Consulting) provide a brief guide for media organizations seeking to embrace new networked media platforms.  Their 10 rules show how “users behave and cluster with these networks, and how users are shaping their own news and information environments.”

William Hague, “The Best Diplomatic Service in the World: Strengthening the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as an Institution,” London, September 8, 2011.  In a speech at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the British Foreign Secretary outlines his vision for the future of the Foreign Office and steps needed to improve the skills and capabilities of Britain’s diplomats.

Steven Livingston, Africa’s Evolving Infosystems: A Pathway to Stability and Security, Africa Center for Strategic Studies, National Defense University, Research Paper No. 2, December 2010, March 2011.  Livingston (George Washington University) looks at cellular telephony and other emerging information and communication technologies in the context of emerging democratic institutions in Africa.  He concludes that although these “technologies can, at times, be used for less positive purposes, including crime and politically motivated violence, on the whole they are enhancing human security and sustainable economic development across the continent.”

Ali Molenaar, Reading Lists, Clingendael Library and Documentation Centre, Netherlands Institute of International Relations.  Clingendael’s librarian continues to provide useful literature lists on public diplomacy and a wide range of related topics.  Recent updates include:
Literature on Public Diplomacy, July 1, 2011
Literature on Celebrity Diplomacy, July 1, 2011
Literature on Cultural Diplomacy, July 1, 2011
Literature on Citizen and Track 11 Diplomacy, July 1, 2011
Literature on Branding, July 1, 2011
Literature on External Relations of the European Union, July 1, 2011
Literature on European Level Diplomacy and the EU Diplomatic Service, July 1, 2011
United States of America: Diplomatic Relations, July 1, 2011

Alex Oliver and Andrew Shearer, Diplomatic Disrepair: Rebuilding Australia’s International Policy Infrastructure, Lowy Institute for International Policy, August 2011.  In this in-depth followup to a 2009 blue ribbon panel report on Australia’s Diplomatic Deficit, the Lowy Institute’s Oliver and Shearer conclude that Australia’s international policy infrastructure and overseas diplomatic network “remain seriously under-resourced and lagging behind comparable nations.” Their study looks at overstretched diplomatic posts, critical shortfalls in foreign language training and other critical skills, “lackluster” public diplomacy, “almost nonexistent use of new digital platforms,” and a significant gap between diplomatic capacity and the nation’s interests.  An appendix compares Australia’s diplomatic service with those of the US, the UK, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the European Union.  The 33-page report and a 2-page Fact Sheet can be downloaded from the Institute’s website.

Alasdair Roberts, “The WikiLeaks Illusion,” The Wilson Quarterly, Summer 2011, 16-21.  Roberts (Suffolk University Law School) argues that although new information technologies make it easier to leak and broadcast sensitive government information, barriers remain to what WikiLeaks seeks to achieve.  His article discusses implications of the large amount of information released, minimal public outrage, business decisions by commercial companies that hurt WikiLeaks’ functionality, and the lack of surprise at the “open secrets” released.  Roberts, quoting former New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller, agrees the disclosures did not “expose some deep unsuspected perfidy in high places.”  Rather they provided only “texture, nuance, and drama.”

Paul S. Rockower, “Projecting Taiwan: Taiwan’s Public Diplomacy Outreach,” Issues & Studies, 47, No. 1 (March 2011), 107-152, (Available on the USC Center on Public Diplomacy’s Resources website).  Rockower (a journalist and former Israeli Foreign Ministry press officer) analyzes Taiwan’s soft power and use of public diplomacy “not only as a means of promotion, but also as a means of ensuring its diplomatic survival and access to the international arena.” His essay discusses Taiwan’s public diplomacy strategies and tactics, narratives, institutions, and methods.  Rockower looks particularly at Taiwan as a middle power with unusual limitations and capacities and its emphasis on polylateral connections with non-state actors and multilateral institutions.  His paper combines an academic assessment of Taiwan’s public diplomacy with recommendations for practitioners.

Max Schulman, “The State Department’s Shameful Record on Internet Freedom,” The New Republic, August 8, 2011.  TNR intern Schulman finds “significant failures, both in overall funding efforts and in the omission of vital tools” in implementation of the State Department’s Internet freedom agenda.  He summarizes the arguments of Congressional and public policy critics, views of the US Broadcasting Board of Governors, and views of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Anne-Marie Slaughter, “Notes From the Foreign Policy Frontier,” The Atlantic, July 2011.  Slaughter (Princeton University and former director of policy planning at the US Department State) has joined The Atlantic as a correspondent and “curator/host’ of an online feature that examines ways of thinking about foreign affairs in a “framework that moves beyond states and addresses both governments and societies.”  In her first post, “The New Foreign Policy Frontier” (July 27, 2011) she summarizes her goals and intentions.  See also her YouTube video presentation, DIY Foreign Policy, Personal Democracy Forum 2011, June 27, 2011 (19 minutes).

US International Strategy for Cyberspace:  Prosperity, Security, and Openness in a Networked World, Washington, DC, May 2011.  In his covering letter, President Obama describes his cyberspace strategy as “an approach that unifies our engagement with international partners on the full range of cyber issues.”  The document contains elements of a US cyberspace policy, a vision for cyberspace’s future, and a statement of policy priorities.  The section on diplomacy focuses on the need to “strengthen international partnerships” and “engage the international community in frank and urgent dialogue” on “principles of responsible behavior in cyberspace” and actions needed to build a system of cyberspace stability.  Like White House national security strategies, the cyberspace “strategy” is more a policy and public diplomacy statement than an analysis of tradeoffs among priorities, resources, costs and risks, and specific steps needed to achieve its goals.

US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, “Kerry Introduces Legislation to Authorize and Strengthen the State Department and U.S. Diplomacy,” July 27, 2011.  Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry’s authorization bill for Fiscal Years 2012-13 contains a number of proposals to modernize the State Department, build the capacity of US diplomacy, strengthen public diplomacy, increase program accountability, exempt US international broadcasting from restrictions on domestic dissemination of “public diplomacy information,” and support global development, cyberspace, and Internet freedom.  The full text of the bill, S. 1426, is available on the Library of Congress Thomas website.

Richard Wike, “From Hyperpower to Declining Power: Changing Global Perceptions of the U.S. in the Post-September 11 Era,” Pew Global Attitudes Project, September 7, 2011.  Findings in the Pew Research Center’s 2010 and 2011 surveys include:  (1) America’s global image improved significantly in Western Europe and many parts of the world after Barack Obama’s election in 2008; (2) the Obama bounce has staying power overall, but with lower marks for his handling of Iran, Afghanistan, and Israeli-Palestinian issues; (3) there has been no Obama bounce in Turkey, Pakistan, Jordan, and Palestine; and (4) the economic downturn since 2008 did not significantly affect positive opinions, but did lead to a reassessment of American economic power overall and relative to China.

R.S. Zaharna, Battles2Bridges blog. American University communication scholar Zaharna blogs on relational approaches in public diplomacy, assertive public diplomacy, Palestinian public diplomacy, digital strategies, and other issues.

Gem from the Past

Robert M. Entman, Projections of Power: Framing News, Public Opinion, and U.S. Foreign Policy, (The University of Chicago Press, 2004).  In Projections of Power, communications scholar Robert Entman (George Washington University) developed his cascade model of media framing and examined its implications for public opinion, foreign policymaking, and the “framing” of events by political leaders.  When it was published to critical acclaim in 2004, Harvard University’s Thomas E. Patterson called it a “stunning achievement” and observed that “scholars and practitioners alike will be relying on this book for years to come.”  The reviewers were right.  Projections of Power recently earned Professor Entman the American Political Science Association’s Doris Graber Book Award for the best book published in the last ten years in political communication.
*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