Selection and commentary by PDC members and authoritative experts in the field
Monday, August 19th 2013
It’s Summer Transfer Season for U.S. Foreign Service Officers, and I spent the past two weeks preparing 23 of them to take up positions as Public Diplomacy Officers. They ran simulations, learned intricate financial management processes, and also heard from some of the best PAOs in the business. I wish I had completed such a course before I became a PAO.
But life is still not perfect. The Foreign Service system doesn’t incentivize some of the best practices of public diplomacy. Officers who look after their short-term career interests can act against the best interests of U.S. public diplomacy.
Here are a few examples.
Tuesday, August 6th 2013
Is it true? Does the U.S. government lack the tools to contest the struggle for "hearts and minds" in the Middle East?
That’s the argument being made by Max Boot from the Council on Foreign Relations and Michael Doran of the Brookings Institution an article which has appeared in several online publications since June.
In brief, the authors posit that the United States is in a long-term struggle for influence in the Middle East with competitors such as Iran, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, and various Salafist organizations. Each has its own philosophical or tactical differences with the others, but they are united in promoting visions of society that are at odds with American interests and ideals.
The question posed by Boot and Doran in their article is whether, since the end of the Cold War, American public diplomacy has lost its ideological edge.
Wednesday, July 31st 2013
Greetings from the Public Diplomacy Council Program Committee. We are pleased to provide update #1 on the Fall Forum. U.S. Public Diplomacy: A Look to the Past, A Look to the Future. November 12, 2013, is the confirmed date of the all-day forum. It will be held in the George C. Marshall Conference Center at the U.S. Department of State.
Thursday, July 25th 2013
I can’t say that I was very surprised by the news that the State Department spent $630,000 to boost traffic to four of its International Information Programs (IIP) Facebook pages.
Was it a waste of money at a time of fiscal austerity? Absolutely. Did it result in a bump in traffic? At least temporarily, yes. Will IIP be able to hang on to those followers and advance its mission to “build America’s reputation abroad”? Probably not.
The reason it won’t is because of what social media has become: A place where a lot of people (and institutions) are talking, but very few are listening.
Monday, July 8th 2013
Stories about $650 thousand spent by the State Department’s International Information Programs (IIP) bureau on Facebook advertising have proliferated, prompting extensive discussion (see John Brown’s public diplomacy blog for examples.)
The background comes from an inspection report recently made public by State’s Office of the Inspector General. Our busy commentators can’t possibly have read the report, or their accounts would pick up far more salient issues.