Center for Strategic Communication

by Bruce Gregory*


Roxanne Cabral, Peter Engelke, Katherine Brown, and Anne Terman Wedner, “Diplomacy for a Diffuse World,” Issue Brief, Atlantic Council, September 2014.  Cabral (US Department of State and former Atlantic Council senior fellow), Engelke (Atlantic Council), Brown, and Wedner (US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy) call for a “fundamental retooling” of American diplomacy in the context of new forces and actors driving change globally and within nations.  Their cutting edge report builds on the National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends 2030 with particular attention to cities as an increasingly important focus of diplomacy.  Key recommendations for diplomats include: (1) systematic attention to the role of cities in diplomacy’s context and as diplomatic actors, (2) adopt a “whole of society” approach through public and private partnerships at national and sub-national levels, (3) leverage individual empowerment and the US government’s considerable convening power, (4) make better use of data to understand local conditions and when they can be used effectively as supplements to personal contact, (5) move from “one-size-fits all” strategies to localized communication approaches tailored to audience segments, and (6) realign resources from capital cities to important noncapital cities.

Daryl Copeland, Humanity’s Best Hope: Increasing Diplomatic Capacity in Ten (Uneasy) Steps, Policy Paper, Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute (CDFAI), September 2014.  Copeland (CDFAI Senior Fellow) argues “diplomacy most everywhere is in trouble.” It faces “a crisis of image and substance” and “relevance and effectiveness” due to an array of technology driven transnational issues.  If diplomacy is to transform, it must address ten critical areas: mandate and mission, organizational structure, representational footprint, corporate management, political leadership, bureaucratic culture, diplomatic practice, science and technology, digital tools, and resource allocation.

James Cuno, “Culture War: The Case Against Repatriating Museum Artifacts,” Foreign Affairs, November/December 2014, 119-129. Cuno (J. Paul Getty Trust) opposes the use of cultural objects and powerful memories of cultural heritage by government leaders to promote national identities and support repatriation claims based exclusively on national origin.  He supports UNESCO’s efforts to regulate illegal trade in antiquities and the lawful repatriation of illicitly acquired art.  However, “encyclopedic museums,” such as the Louvre, the British Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, represent cosmopolitan ideals.  By co-locating artifacts of different times and cultures, they encourage knowledge, curiosity, “pluralism, diversity and the idea that culture shouldn’t stop at borders.”  Cultural property, Cuno contends, should be seen as “the legacy of humankind and not of the modern nation-state, subject to the political agenda of its ruling elite.”

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Australian Government, “Public Diplomacy Strategy 2014-2016.”  DFAT’s website profiles the mission, objectives, audiences, approaches, management methods, and key priorities and messages in Australia’s public diplomacy strategy.  Includes brief descriptions of tools and methods that seek to “engage audiences” and “facilitate networks and connections”:  cultural diplomacy and media visits, sports diplomacy, alumni engagement, connecting key civil society and private sector organizations, engaging diaspora communities, “whole of government” diplomacy, and evaluation of “impacts and results.”

Sarah Ellen Graham, “Emotion and Public Diplomacy: Dispositions in International Communications, Dialogue, and Persuasion,” International Studies Review, (2014) 0, 1-18.  In this impressive article, Graham (University of Western Sydney) sets the table for much-needed exploration of the role of emotion in diplomacy studies as well as in IR thinking about language, power, and persuasion.  Systematic accounts of public emotion in diplomacy are vanishingly rare in recent scholarly literature.  Influence approaches typically are framed as reasoned calculations of utility based on tradeoffs in decision-making.  Relationship models emphasize dialogue and collaboration grounded in rational discourse principles.  Graham convincingly argues that emotions as a concept should be reinstated in public diplomacy studies.  Using theories of emotion in constructivism and political theory, she explores how two key functions of public diplomacy engage emotions:  (1) their presence “in argument, reasoning, and persuasion – particularly in the context of discourse about values,” and (2) “how emotional expression reflects cultural difference, thereby influencing cross-cultural dialogue, and how emotion constitutes collective identities.”

Mark Grossman, “A Diplomacy for the 21st Century: Back to the Future,” Foreign Service Journal, September 2014, 22-27.  Imagining diplomacy’s future, retired US Ambassador Grossman (The Cohen Group) writes, requires a realistic assessment of the world as it is and an examination of first principles. These include an optimistic belief in the power of ideas and sustained effort, a commitment to political and economic justice at home and abroad, truth in dealing, and realism tempered by a commitment to pluralism – a realism and pluralism grounded in the thinking of Reinhold Niebuhr and Isaiah Berlin.  Grossman’s synthesis of traditional and future diplomacy assumes the necessity of simultaneous, integrated uses of the tools of power and a “whole of government” approach to future challenges.

Christopher R. Hill, Outpost: Life on the Frontlines of American Diplomacy, (Simon & Schuster, 2014).  This compelling memoir by retired US Ambassador Hill (University of Denver) is filled with practical wisdom on the work of today’s diplomat.  Drawing on assignments in the Balkans, Poland, South Korea, Iraq, Washington, and multilateral negotiations (Dayton, Rambouillet, Six Party Talks on North Korea), Hill uses stories, thoughtful analysis, and ironic wit to capture diplomacy’s enduring principles and 21st century skills and methods.  His book is a modern diplomacy case study that features insights on: multi-stakeholder diplomacy, the breakdown of foreign and domestic, political and bureaucratic risks, hard choices in ambiguous circumstances, personal safety, cell phones, the importance of media and public opinion, and much more.  Hill dismisses “the much-hackneyed phrase ‘public diplomacy,’” because, as he makes clear throughout, communication with publics is now mainstream diplomatic practice.  Those seeking a course reading on what it means to be an “entrepreneurial diplomat” should look closely at Chapters 14 and 15, “Calling an Audible” and “Plastic Tulips.”

John Robert Kelley, Agency Change: Diplomatic Action Beyond the State, (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014).  Kelley (American University) makes two central arguments in this important new book.  First, a “diplomacy of status” grounded in diplomatic action by states is giving way to a “diplomacy of capabilities” understood as a relocation of power to non-state diplomatic actors.  Second, what diplomats can do increasingly matters more than who they are with the result that problem solving becomes more important relative to serving interests.  Kelley explores both in chapters that deal with: (1) disruptions caused by new technologies, epistemic communities, and other external drivers of change; (2) agenda setting and the power of ideas in world politics; (3) the mobilizing capacity of certain change agents to present ideas and gain support for them; and (4) gatekeeping that remains conceptually relevant even as the numbers and roles of diplomatic gatekeepers increase in vastly more numerous channels of networked connectivity.

Jennifer Kesterleyne, Shaun Riordan, and Huub Ruel, “Business Diplomacy,” Special Issue, The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, Vol. 9, No. 4 (2014).  What is business diplomacy?  Does it differ from corporate diplomacy and other forms of diplomacy related to economic and commercial matters?  What does it mean when firms do “diplomat-like things?”  Kesterleyne (Ghent University), Riordan (Clingendael Institute), and Ruel (Windesheim University of Applied Sciences), the guest editors of this HJD special issue, provide an introduction to articles that explore these and other questions.

— Raymond Saner and Lichia Yiu (Diplomacy Dialogue, CSEND, Geneva), “Business Diplomacy Competence: A Requirement for Implementing the OECD’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises,” 311-333.

— Sarah Myers West (University of Southern California), “Redefining Digital Diplomacy: Modelling Business Diplomacy by Internet Companies in China,” 334-355.

— Mikael Sondergaard (Aarhus University), “’Corporate Business Diplomacy:’ Reflections on the Interdisciplinary Nature of the Field,” 356-371.

— James M. Small (Atlantic Strategy Group), “Business Diplomacy in Practice: Advancing Interests in Crisis Situations,” 374-392.

— George Haynal (University of Toronto), “Corporate Statecraft and Its Diplomacy,” 393-419.

Frank Ninkovich, The Global Republic: America’s Inadvertent Rise to World Power, (The University of Chicago Press, 2014).  In his “conceptual history of the relationship between globalization and foreign policy,” Ninkovich (St. Johns University and author of The Diplomacy of Ideas) challenges the conventional understanding that America’s rise was animated throughout its history by a deep sense of mission and exceptionalism.  Rather than belief in its destiny or special character, the forces driving the nation were “an inadvertent consequence of the need to keep up with a fast-changing globalizing world filled with promise and peril.”  Ninkovich’s enduring fascination with culture, cosmopolitanism, and global society are themes throughout the book.  Of particular interest to public and cultural diplomacy enthusiasts will be his discussion in Chapter 8 (and its lengthy endnotes) of ideology and culture during the Cold War.  “Although cultural and ideological changes would play their part in ending the Cold War,” he contends, “government-directed cultural programs deserve only minor credit for the outcome.”  They met with unrelenting skepticism from Congress because their effectiveness could not be justified in instrumental terms.

James Pamment, “The Mediatization of Diplomacy,” The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, Vol. 9, No. 3, (2014), 253-280.  Pamment (University of Texas at Austin) argues the impact of new actors, technologies, and norms on the roles and functions of diplomats increasingly can be understood through “mediatization” – a trending body of communication research that studies the integration of media into everyday life.  Radical changes in the representation of identities and relationships are among the consequences.  His article examines three areas in which mediatization is changing diplomacy: (1) the proliferation of mediating communication channels, (2) changes in the language, signs, and symbols required by new interpretive rules and norms governing media channels, and (3) the media as part of a political-economic environment in which diplomacy takes place.  A key finding of his research is that mediatization is changing the work of all diplomatic actors and that “Distinctions between diplomacy and public diplomacy hold little import as the core practices of diplomatic representation depend upon many forms of communication across many channels and codes.”  Pamment’s article is useful both for its conceptual insights and its many examples drawn from the conduct of European and US actors.

Tim Rivera, Distinguishing Cultural Relations from Cultural Diplomacy: The British Council’s Relationship with Her Majesty’s Government, Master’s Thesis, King’s College London, 2014.  What does the British Council do?  “Cultural relations” through international educational and cultural engagement as framed by the Council?  “Cultural diplomacy,” a term preferred by the British Government?  Or perhaps the Council engages in “new public diplomacy,” a frame that appeals to some scholars.  In his case study of the Council from 2010 to the present, Rivera develops a framework that seeks to clarify these concepts and make a normative claim that cultural relations is more effective than cultural diplomacy in advancing a nation’s soft power.  He argues that recent oversight and funding trends threaten the Council’s “’arms length’ relationship with and ‘operational independence’ from the Government.”

“State Department Faces Criticism in Uphill Social Media War Against Islamic State Group,” PBS Newshour, October 22, 2014.  The Newshour’s Margaret Warner interviews US Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel on implications of the State Department’s use of social media to “contest the space” occupied by the Islamic State (IS).  Her piece includes contrasting views of Phillip Smyth (University of Maryland) relating to constraints on what the US government can do, the potential for elevating the stature of IS militants, and problems in evaluating effectiveness.

US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, Data-Driven Public Diplomacy: Progress Towards Measuring the Impact of Public Diplomacy and International Broadcasting Activities, September 16, 2014.  Edited by the Commission’s Executive Director Katherine Brown and Senior Advisor Chris Hensman, and written by nine scholars from US universities, this 57-page report provides extensive analysis in support of five key judgments:  (1) increased State Department recognition of the importance of research; (2) organizational changes and movement away from risk averse cultures at State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) that limit how research is understood, carried out, and used; (3) more consistent strategic approaches in developing and evaluating public diplomacy and broadcasting activities; (4) increased training in strategic planning and research; and (5) more funding and personnel to conduct research and evaluation.  Commission Chair William J. Hybl and Commissioners Sim Farar, Lyndon L. Olson, Penne Korth Peacock, Anne Wedner, and Lezlee J. Westine signed the report.  Includes:

— Nicholas J. Cull (University of Southern California), “Preface: Evaluation and the History of U.S. Public Diplomacy,” 7-13.

— Methodology, Introduction, and Executive Summary, 14-22.

— Sean Aday (George Washington University), Kathy Fitzpatrick (Florida International University), and Jay Wang (University of Southern California), “State Department: Public Diplomacy Policy, Planning and Resources Office’s Evaluation Unit,” 23-28.

— Kathy Fitzpatrick and Jay Wang, “State Department: The Evaluation Division in the Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau,” 29-33.

— Amelia Arsenault (Georgia State University) and Craig Hayden (American University), “State Department: Digital Media Evaluation in the International Information Programs Bureau (IIP/ARM) and Public Affairs Bureau (PA/ODE), 34-40.

— Shawn Powers (Georgia State University), Matthew Baum (Harvard University), and Erik Nisbet (Ohio State University), “Broadcasting Board of Governors: Research and Evaluation,” 41-56.

Daniel Whitman, ed., Outsmarting Apartheid: An Oral History of South Africa’s Educational and Cultural Exchange with the United States, 1960-1999, (State University of New York Press, 2014).  Whitman (American University), with assistance from Kari Jaska (Department of State), has compiled 34 oral interviews with US officials, locally hired employees, and grantees in South Africa’s bilateral exchanges with the United States.  As Whitman summarizes in his introduction:  “This volume gives voice to a number of the witnesses: officials, local employees, and South African ‘grantees’ of all races who made it to the United States during turbulent times and later took up the reins of leadership in the new South Africa of the 1990s.”  Their stories are arranged in categories of exchanges – the arts, education, law and parliament, public service, science and research, social engagement and community empowerment.  (Courtesy of Dick Arndt)

R.S. Zaharna, Jennifer Hubbert, and Falk Hartig, Confucius Institutes and the Globalization of Soft Power, CPD Perspectives on Public Diplomacy, Paper 3, September 2014.  In his preface, Jay Wang (University of Southern California) summarizes the rapid global growth of China’s Confucius Institutes.  Although the program has received its share of critical comment, he notes there has been little academic analysis.  Three essays in this Paper provide conceptual assessments.  R.S. Zaharna (American University) discusses the Institutes as a “network-based cultural diplomacy project” in “China’s Confucius Institutes: Understanding the Relational Structure & Relational Dynamics of Network Collaboration.”  Jennifer Hubbert (Lewis & Clark College) provides an anthropologically grounded case study of an Institute-sponsored tour of China by American high school students in “Authenticating the Nation: Confucius Institutes and Soft Power.”  Falk Hartig (Frankfurt University) looks at the Institutes in the context of China’s development aid activities in Africa in “The Globalization of Chinese Soft Power: Confucius Institutes in South Africa.”

Recent Blogs and Other Items of Interest

Matt Armstrong, “The BBG Must Be Where the Audience is Listening,” September 9, 2014, Radio World.

Alex Belida, “How to Save the Voice of America and U.S. International Broadcasting,” October 30, 2014, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

Stuart N. Brotman, “U.S.: Don’t Step on Freedom of the Press Abroad,” September 13, 2014, American Journalism Review.

Joseph Bruns, “The Ebola Outbreak, International Broadcasting, and Social Media,” October 3, 2014, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

William J. Burns, “10 Parting Thoughts for America’s Diplomats,” October 23, 2014, Foreign Policy, FP Blog.

P. J. Crowley, “We’re Giving the ISIL Media Campaign Too Much Credit,” September 22, 2014, GWU, Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication, Take Five Blog.

Daryl Copeland, “There is a Lot More to Security Than Guns and Surveillance,” October 30, 2014; “Ten Steps to a World-beating Diplomatic Corps,” September 26, 2014; “For the West: War Isn’t Working Any More,” September 24, 2014, iPolitics Blog.

Helle Dale, “Broadcasting Reform: Time to Rearm, and Fight Enemy Propaganda,” September 11, 2014, The Daily Signal.

Karen Fischer, “A Missionary for Liberal Arts,” September 7, 2014, The New York Times.

Ali Fisher, “Incorporating Big Data: One Giant Leap for Diplomacy,” September 30, 2014, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

Anne Gearan, “U.S. Attempts to Combat Islamic State Propaganda,” September 7, 2014, The Washington Post.

Jane Harman, “Not a War on Terror, a War on Ideology,” September 17, 2014, The Wilson Center.

Patricia Kabra, “5 Things to Remember When Doing Digital Diplomacy,” October 17, 2014; “A Day in the Life of a Public Diplomacy Officer at a US Embassy;” September 24, 2014, GWU, Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication, Take Five Blog.

Brian Knowlton, “Digital War Takes Shape on Websites Over ISIS,” September 26, 2014, The New York Times.

Daniel Kochis, “Countering Russian Propaganda Abroad,” October 21, 2014, The Heritage Foundation, Issue Brief No. 4286.

Eric Lipton, Brook Williams, and Nicholas Confessore, “Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tanks,” September 6, 2014, The New York Times.

Peter Pomerantsev, “Russia and the Menace of Unreality: How Vladimir Putin is Revolutionizing Information Warfare,” September 9, 2014, The Atlantic.

Nancy Scola, “Meet Share America, the U.S. State Department’s Upworthy Clone,” September 30, 2014, The Washington Post.

Philip Seib, “Counterterrorism Messaging Needs to Move from State to CIA,” October 27, 2014, Defense One Today Blog.

Barbara Slavin, “US Public Diplomacy Attempts to Confront Islamic State,” September 16, 2014, Al-Monitor.

“Soft Power: Confucius Says,” September 13, 2014, The Economist.

Tara Sonenshein, “A Fulbright is Not a Political Football,” September 26, 2014, Huffington Post.

Alex Villarreal, “Under Secretary Stengel: US in Information ‘Battle’ With IS, Russia,” September 16, 2014, Voice of America

Dick Virdin, “More Than Military Power Is Needed to Fight ISIS,” October 28, 2014, Minnpost Community Voices.

Matthew Wallin, “The New Digital Divide and Countering Extremist Propaganda,” September 11, 2014, American Security Project.

Jay Wang, “Chinese Cultural Diplomacy: Confucius Institutes,” September 16, 2014, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.”

“Xinhua: How Many More Dirty Tricks Does the U.S. Have to Manipulate International Public Opinion?” October 24, 2014, Chinascope.

Gem From The Past

Anne-Marie Slaughter, A New World Order, (Princeton University Press, 2004).   Before turning to the worlds of practice (State Department Policy Planning Director) and think tanks (current President, The New America Foundation), Slaughter was a highly regarded scholar and Dean at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. It has been ten years since A New World Order harnessed her years of research on global networks and global governance.  In her analysis, states are still the most important international actors, but states increasingly are “disaggregated” into component institutions that interact with foreign counterparts through horizontal networks of national government officials.  These “new diplomats,” as she calls them, are officials in banking, law enforcement, global health, civil aviation, migration, the environment, and other domains who provide expertise, negotiate regulations, and monitor compliance, both domestically and internationally.  Slaughter’s book remains relevant in the context of current scholarship on what the UK’s Brian Hocking calls “regulatory diplomacy” and “national diplomatic systems” — and what practitioners refer to as “whole of government” diplomacy.

*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