Center for Strategic Communication

by Bruce Gregory*

Morton Abramowitz and Mark Lowenthal, “Restocking the Toollkit,” The American Interest, Winter, January/February, 2012, 57-64.  Abramowitz (Century Foundation) and Lowenthal (Intelligence and Security Academy) lament two decades of US overreliance on military force and call for a stronger “array of diverse tools to influence events abroad.”   Critical weaknesses include lack of well informed political intelligence; failure “to mobilize a genuine vision of an active and efficacious diplomacy;” too many closed-off embassies and passive diplomats; government wide public information programs that are “stale, balkanized, and underfunded;” insufficient diplomatic focus on political opposition groups and a broad range of civil society institutions; and an American Foreign Service Association with too little enthusiasm for transformational change.  The authors frame their case for the 2012 political campaigns and the next cycle of foreign affairs reform.

Matt Armstrong, www, Guest posts on the future of US international broadcasting, February 2012. Armstrong’s website provides a convenient platform to view a lively debate among current and former US broadcasters on the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ 2013 budget request and Strategic Plan, 2012-2016.  Includes:

Alex Belida, “Reforming U.S. International Broadcasting: A New Mission Statement,” (2/13/2012), “Reforming U.S. International Broadcasting (Part Two): What to do About the BBG?” (2/15/2012), “Reforming U.S. International Broadcasting (Part Three): A New Structure” (2/16/2012), and “Blind Ambition,” (2/16/2012).

Kim Andrew Elliott, “US International Broadcasting: Success Requires Independence and Consolidation,” (2/14/2012)

Alan Heil, “Whisper of America?” (2/14/2012)

David Jackson, “The Future of International Broadcasting,” (2/15/2012)

Caitlin Byrne, Campaigning for a Seat on the United Nations Security Council: A Middle Power Reflection on the Role of Public Diplomacy, CPD Perspectives on Public Diplomacy, Paper 10, 2011, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.  Drawing on her academic research and prior experience as a practitioner in Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Byrne (Bond University) argues that Security Council candidate nations must combine their intense lobbying in the UN with a broader range of efforts focused on reputation, image, and significant engagement and persuasion of international audiences.  Using Australia’s Security Council aspirations as a case study, Byrne looks at how and when middle powers might use public diplomacy strategies to supplement traditional diplomacy and achieve broader soft power outcomes.

Alan L. Heil, Jr., “All Quiet on the Western Front: 2012 Challenges and Opportunities in the Five-Year Strategic Plan for U.S. International Broadcasting,” American Diplomacy, December 2011. Heil (a former VOA deputy director and author of Voice of America) examines challenges facing US and European international broadcasters and the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ 2012-2016 strategic plan.  His assessment provides a detailed summary of recent organizational and functional changes in US broadcasting.  Can the new plan “meet and master the challenges?”  Heil’s answer is “Hopefully, yes.”

Michael Ignatieff, “The Return of Sovereignty,” The New Republic, February 16, 2012, 25-28.  The former leader of Canada’s Liberal Party returns to academe and uses his review of Brad R. Roth, Sovereign Equality and Moral Disagreement, (Oxford University Press, 2011) to argue that “Sovereignty is back.”  Ignatieff’s essay is a thoughtful reflection on the relationship between sovereignty and law, emotional identification of people with the sovereign, appropriate limits to lawful coercion to prevent chaos, and sovereignty’s continued relevance in the deep waters of global commerce.  “Sovereignty has returned,” Ignatieff argues, because citizens need a principle of authority more stable than price signals and government alone.  His essay offers a paradoxical conclusion: if we want justice in our political and diplomatic decisions to intervene in revolutions, and global markets that deliver jobs and take responsibility for their risks, then we need stronger, more capable, and more legitimate sovereign authority.

Charles Kupchin, Rosa Brooks, Rachel Kleinfeld, Tom Perriello, and Bruce Jentleson, “First Principles: America and the World,” Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, No. 23, Winter 2012, 8-45. The contributors to this collection of essays offer principles for a progressive foreign policy.

Charles Kupchin (Georgetown University) in “Grand Strategy: The Four Pillars of the Future” outlines key elements of a strategic alternative to isolationism and neoconservative adventurism.

Rosa Brooks (Georgetown University Law Center) calls for a humbler, more patient approach to democratization in “Democracy Promotion: Done Right, A Progressive Cause.”

Rachel Kleinfeld (Truman National Security Project) argues the US must facilitate connections with and among civil societies in “Global Outreach: Speaking to the Awakening World.”

Tom Perriello (a former member of Congress) in “Humanitarian Intervention: Recognizing When, and Why, It Can Succeed” examines issues and criteria relevant to the legitimate use of force.

Bruce Jentleson (Duke University) discusses foreign policy for a world where the US is “not at the center” in “Accepting Limits: How to Adapt to a Copernican World.”

Rebecca MacKinnon, Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom, (Basic Books, 2012). Drawing on her experiences as CNN’s Beijing and Tokyo bureau chief and work at Harvard’s Berkman Center for the Internet and Society, the co-founder of Global Voicies explores central issues in cyber power and Internet governance.  MacKinnon gives life to her analysis with stories of protest movements, policy debates, and uses and abuses of government and corporate power.  Public diplomacy enthusiasts will find particularly useful her accounts of digital empowerment in the Arab Spring, China’s Internet dilemmas, Wikileaks, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Internet freedom policy, and the contrasting views of Internet experts Clay Shirky, Evgeny Morozov, and Ethan Zuckerman.

Petar Petrov, Karolina Pomorska, and Sophie Vanhoonacker, Guest Editors, “The Emerging EU Diplomatic System,” Special Issue of The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, Vol. 7, Nos. 1 2012. In this issue of HJD, the editors (Maastricht University) compile articles by scholars and practitioners that examine political, policy, organizational, legal, and contextual issues in the post-Lisbon EU diplomatic system. Includes:

Petar Petrov, Karolina Pomorska, and Sophie Vanhoonacker, “Introduction: The Emerging EU Diplomatic System: Opportunities and Challenges After ‘Lisbon.'”

Daniel C. Thomas and Ben Tonra, “To What Ends EU Foreign Policy? Contending Approaches to the Union’s Diplomatic Objectives and Representation.”

Jan Wouters and Sanderijn Duquet, “The EU and International Diplomatic Law: New Horizons?”

Edith Drieskens, “What’s in a Name? Challenges to the Creation of EU Delegations.”

Kolja Raube, “The European External Action Service and the European Parliament.”

Federica Bicchi, “The European External Action Service: A Pivotal Actor in EU Foreign Policy Communications?”

Simon Duke, “Diplomatic Training and the Challenges Facing the EEAS.”

David Spence, “The Early Days of the European External Action Service: A Practitioner’s View.”

“Public Diplomacy in the Age of Social Media,” New America Foundation, Washington, DC, February 16, 2012.  In this 90-minute YouTube video, Alexander Howard (Government 2.0) moderates a panel of mid-career US Department of State officers on social media trends and practices.  Panelists:  Suzanne Hall (Senior Advisor, Innovation in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs), Nick Namba (Acting Deputy Coordinator for Content Development and Partnerships, Bureau of International Information Programs), and Ed Dunn (Acting Director, Digital Communications Center, Bureau of Public Affairs).

Olivier Roy, “Breakthroughs in Faith,” World Policy Journal, Winter 2011/ 2012, 8-13.  Roy (European University Institute, Florence, and author of Holy Ignorance) challenges dominant “clash or dialogue of civilizations” theories of the “return of the sacred” in diplomacy and global politics. Both “clash” and “dialogue” analysts err, Roy argues, in framing religion as transmitted identity rather than chosen faith.  Rather, the fundamentalist impulse in many religions is driven by rising secularization, not by resistance to modernization.  This gap between faith and identity has strategic consequences in the context of the Arab Spring, the role of Al Qaida, and rise of new religious movements as international actors disassociated from a given culture.

Barry Sanders, American Avatar: The United States in the Global Imagination, (Potomac Books, 2011).  Sanders (UCLA) looks at historical origins and recent manifestations of a broad array of complex and contradictory images of the United States.  His self-referential assessment (“The United States bears the world’s hopes and dreams as no other nation in history.”) examines a variety of psychological and cultural explanations for these images and the “slender connection between America and views about America.”  Sanders emphasizes Western perspectives and frames his interpretation of American exceptionalism as the “expectations and longings among foreigners in their expectations of the ‘American Dream.'”  He urges caution in using opinion polls, which are volatile and superficial, in analyzing attitudes and instead focuses on more deeply rooted predispositions and stored images.  His concluding chapter offers five positive images that matter in foreign policy and in “messages” that “can be sent by the practice of public diplomacy.”

Paul Sharp and Geoffrey Wiseman, eds., American Diplomacy, (Brill, Martinus Nijhoff, 2012).  Sharp (University of Minnesota, Duluth) and Wiseman (University of Southern California) compile essays by scholars and practitioners that “examine questions arising from the Obama administration’s efforts to revive American diplomacy and its response to the ways in which diplomacy itself is being transformed.”  Originally published as a special issue of The Hague Journal of Diplomacy (Vol. 6, No. 3-4, 2011), the book includes a new conclusion and index.  For an annotation of the content, visit “Public Diplomacy: Books, Articles, Websites #59.”

Jonathan Spalter, “Open-Source Diplomacy,” Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, No. 23, Winter 2012, 59-70.  Spalter (Chairman, Mobile Future) uses Eric Raymond’s essay, “The Cathedral and the Bazaar,” to frame an approach to US diplomacy that embraces open source technologies.  Spalter, a former USIA and National Security Council official in the Clinton administration, calls for “a more adaptive, technologically engaged, and diversely skilled professional foreign policy corps.”

Tara Sonenshine, “Engaging a World in Transition,” US Institute of Peace, January 23, 2012.  The nominee for US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs discusses her views on public diplomacy, foreign and domestic challenges to US foreign policy, funding for diplomacy and development, leveraging the power of technology, and the need for increased “understanding of American values.”

Janice Gross Stein, ed. Digital Diplomacy in the Digital Age: Essays in Honour of Ambassador Allan Gotlieb, (Signal, 2011).   Essays by scholars, diplomats, and journalists look at diplomacy’s future and pay tribute to one of Canada’s leading diplomats.  Stein (University of Toronto) organizes their contributions in four sections:  “Diplomacy with the United States in the Age of Wikileaks,” “The Professional Diplomat on Facebook,” “Diplomacy in the Age of Twitter,” and “Where is Headquarters?”  Allan Gotlieb’s career and book, I’ll Be With You in a Minute, Mr. Ambassador’ (see “Gem from the Past” below), are pioneering contributions to the study and practice of diplomacy.

“Sun Tzu and the Art of Soft Power,” The Economist, December 17, 2011, 71-74.  Drawing on the views of scholars and Chinese political leaders,The Economist looks at strengths and limitations in China’s increasing use of Sun Tzu as a tool in its soft power strategy.  

US Department of Defense, Sustaining Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense,  January 2012.   With cover letters from President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, this 8-page “defense strategy” seeks to frame US national security interests, advance the Defense Department’s efforts to “rebalance and reform,” support deficit reduction through less defense spending, and profile the primary missions of US armed forces.  Although President Obama’s letter makes passing reference to strengthening all the tools of American power, “including diplomacy and development, intelligence, and homeland security,” the report makes no reference to strategic communication and information operations capabilities.

US Government Accountability Office, Broadcasting Board of Governors Should Provide Additional Information to Congress Regarding Broadcasting to Cuba, GAO-12-243R, December 13, 2011.  GAO finds that a strategic plan for US broadcasting to Cuba — submitted by the BBG in response to a Congressional directive in August 2011 —  lacked key information necessary for Congress to exercise it oversight responsibilities.  GAO recommends that the BBG provide an analysis of estimated costs and cost savings of sharing resources between the Office of Cuba Broadcasting and the Voice of America’s Latin American Division.  Report Summary.

Richard Virden, “Diplomacy and Public Diplomacy in One Country: Poland During the Cold War,”, December 21, 2011.  Retired diplomat Dick Virden provides insights into US public diplomacy in Poland during and after the Cold War.  His narrative looks at contrasting social and political environments in Poland during the 1980s and 1990s and implications for US public diplomacy tools and methods.

Vivek Wadhwa, “The First Brain Drain in the United States,” Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, Winter/Spring 2012, 89-96.  Using data gathered by a research team at Duke, Harvard, and UC Berkeley, Wadhwa argues that very few international students plan to stay in the US after completing their degrees due to flawed US immigration policies and better opportunities in their home countries.  “The world’s best and brightest now view the United States as a decreasingly attractive place to live and work.”

Jian Wang and Shaojing Sun, Experiencing Nation Brands: A Comparative Analysis of Eight National Pavilions at Expo Shanghai 2010, CPD Perspectives on Public Diplomacy, Paper 2, 2012, USC Center on Public Diplomacy. Jay Wang (University of Southern California) and Shaojing Sun (Fudan University) explore how Chinese visitors “experienced the branded space of national pavilions” at the Shanghai Expo and how this “brand experience” might have shaped or re-shaped their perceptions of the sponsor countries.  Drawing on surveys of visitors to the pavilions of Brazil, India, Israel, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States, the authors provide a wide ranging discussion of nation-branding as a concept, its use as an instrument of public diplomacy, China’s role as sponsor and target of public diplomacy, and the institutional value of World Expos.  Their  comparative study finds value in the “brand experience” framework, assesses the impact of the national pavilions, offers insights to Expo practitioners, and identifies areas for future research.

Wilton Park,
“Putting the Power in Soft Power,” Conference Report, WP1117, October 12-14, 2011. In this online report, conference rapporteur Jayne Luscombe summarizes key points and views expressed by practitioners, scholars, and policymakers attending a three-day conference on soft power.  Wilton Park is associated with the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Jillian York, “The Arab Digital Vanguard: How a Decade of Blogging Contributed to a Year of Revolution,” Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, Winter/Spring 2012, 33-42.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Jillian York looks at the evolution of the Arab blogosphere, the unique impact of its common language in creating “a transnational community of sorts,” and the variety of digital tools used for citizen activism.  Her optimistic account shows that what seemed sudden “was in fact the culmination of nearly a decade of efforts.”

Blogs of Interest

Robert Albro, “Models as Mirrors or Cultural Diplomacy?” Public Policy Anthropologist, February 15, 2012.  Albro (American University) offers comments on findings from a cultural diplomacy survey of scholars, policymakers, practitioners, and cultural producers who attended conferences on cultural diplomacy at AU.  Posted also on the USC Center for Public Diplomacy’s CPD Blog.

Daryl Copeland, “Canadian Public Diplomacy, Then and Now,” The Mark, January 3, 2012, and “A Future for Public Diplomacy” The Mark  January 12, 2012.  Copeland (Ottawa University and the author of Guerrilla Diplomacy) writes that Canada “once a pioneer in public diplomacy” now faces an “uphill battle” and is “trailing most of its diplomatic competition.”

Helle Dale, “Fill the Public Diplomacy Leadership Vacuum,” WebMemo, February 3, 2012 and “Quieting the Voice of America,” February 23, 2012. Dale (The Heritage Foundation) questions leadership, organizational, and budget deficiencies in the Department of State and US international broadcasting.

Gem From the Past

Allan Gottlieb,I’ll be with You In Just a Minute, Mr. Ambassador,’ The Education of a Canadian Diplomat in Washington, (University of Toronto Press, 1991).  When Canada’s Allan Gottlieb arrived in Washington in 1981 to begin a seven-year tour as Ambassador to the United States, he anticipated most of his time would be spent in diplomatic formalities and meetings in the Department of State.  He quickly discovered that diplomacy’s radical transformation required the talents of an effective lobbyist and, in the words of former US Secretary of State James Baker, an ambassador who is “an insider” and who “knows how to work the system.”  Gottlieb’s book was and is a pioneering contribution to “the new diplomacy.”  This new diplomacy, he wrote, “is, to a large extent, public diplomacy and requires different skills, techniques, and attitudes than those found in traditional diplomacy, as it is practiced in most countries, including Canada.”

*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