Selection and commentary by PDC members and authoritative experts in the field
Tuesday, June 3rd 2014
The columnists and talking heads have given out grades – ranging from “A” to “F” – for President Obama’s speech on foreign policy at West Point. Me? I’m just confused – indeed baffled.
Borrowing an old phrase from the 1960s, what “blows my mind” is that no one has noted the obvious area of consensus among supporters and critics of the President. All implicitly agree that the United States must have more diplomacy in the future – strong diplomacy.
Thursday, May 29th 2014
The President’s foreign policy speech at West Point described a world full of challenges. He affirmed that they require American leadership, and he provided his vision for how America – “the one indispensable nation” -- should address them. Already the columnists and the talking heads are in overdrive.
He emphasized the need for strong American military power, personified by the graduating cadets. He added, however, “To say that we have an interest in pursuing peace and freedom beyond our borders is not to say that every problem has a military solution.” I took the speech, then, as a call to increase the sway of the other elements of American power.
The vision part is easy. The hard task for the President and his administration is getting there from here. In the din of commentary, I offer one specific, focused, and presumably bipartisan initiative – to strengthen our weak and neglected Foreign Service.
Friday, May 23rd 2014
In the 1970s, the Foreign Service Journal ran a series of articles – “Tales of the Foreign Service” – which were later published in book form. Copies of the volume are treasured for their stories of the “old” Foreign Service. Here’s a portion of one chapter written by Robert Janz (1903-1985). In the Foreign Service, his assignments included Guatemala City, Bahia, Sao Paulo, Ciudad Trujillo, Lisbon, Colon, and Cali, and after he retired, he co-founded a southern Arizona newspaper, the Green Valley News and Sun. It’s an amusing story of bureaucracy, but it’s his short offhand comment on the difference between Japanese and American propaganda that remains striking.
In the 1930s some State Department officer with time on his hands must have realized that one sure way to acquire a little busy work would be to send a circular . . . . instructing every post to make a study in its district of the amount of Japanese propaganda published by local newspapers during a specified three-month period as compared to American news. (In those days, all Japanese news was propaganda, and all American propaganda was news.)
Saturday, May 17th 2014
This breakout session at the November, 2013 Fall Forum was moderated by Robert Bole, Director of Global Strategy, Broadcasting Board of Governors. Speakers were: Hilary Brandt, Director of the Department of State’s Office of Innovative Engagement; William May, CEO of the Stoneham Group; Graham Lampa, Strategic Planning Officer for Public Diplomacy, Department of State. Together, they traversed the dynamic landscape on which information communication technologies are used – in some cases quite experimentally and ad hoc – to connect with global publics.
This summary was prepared by PDC Graduate Fellow Jesselle Macatiag, American University, Fall Forum Intern Xiang Wang, Syracuse University, and Deborah Trent, Fall Forum Co-Chair.
Monday, May 12th 2014
This breakout session addressed the process of founding CSCC as well as the opportunities and challenges when devising and implementing programs and approaches targeting audiences online and in the field. Principal speakers were: William McCants, a Fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at The Brookings Institution; Dan Kimmage with the CSCC; and Matt Goshko, Deputy Director of the Office of Public Diplomacy at the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. The session was moderated by Ambassador (ret.) Richard LeBaron, a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council and the founding Coordinator of the CSCC.
Contributors to the following summary of proceedings: Ambassador (U.S., ret.) Richard LeBaron, Jeremie Gluckman (The Urban Sustainability Laboratory, The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, The DeVos Institute of Arts Management at The Kennedy Center), Jesselle Macatiag (PDC Graduate Fellow), Deborah Trent (PDC Fall Forum Co-Chair), and Ruby Wu (Fall Forum intern at American University).