Public Diplomacy in the Long Run
Tuesday, October 16th 2012
John Cale, a founder of the Velvet Underground and prolific musical innovator, explained in a recent interview what set his direction at age fifteen, when he was a viola student in Wales. "There was this fella called Willis Conover," he began. The legendary Voice of America jazz broadcaster spun Miles Davis records that Cale struggled to understand.
Conover's VOA broadcasts set Cale off on a quest that led to writing, playing and producing pop and avant-garde music right up to the present time. He moved way beyond jazz, of course. Nowadays, Cale draws inspiration from the likes of Snoop Dogg (at least he said so on the interview.)
When I deliver instruction on strategic public diplomacy, I teach that American officers should be looking for results on all their programs month by month; it's too easy to say, "Oh, cultural diplomacy takes years to bear fruit." Then I hear something like the Cale interview and I let up a little on my doctrine.