Selection and commentary by PDC members and authoritative experts in the field
Thursday, January 3rd 2013
On January 2, in the midst of the “fiscal cliff” controversy and the hard fought tax compromise, the President did one very important thing. He signed H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act for 2013, into law.
President Obama did this his own threat to veto it over prohibitions on closing the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and despite his numerous reservations about the Act’s prescriptive language.
I wish we could believe the President signed the NDAA because he believes so strongly in public diplomacy, but that is probably not the case. He did not mention public diplomacy in his signing statement. Nor did he object to section 1280 of the Act.
Friday, December 21st 2012
If you have not yet read the actual text of the Accountability Review Board report on the events that took place September 11 in Benghazi, you should do so.
Especially you should read it if you are a Foreign Service officer, because you will be able to picture very vividly every move made by the ARSO’s and to understand what the situation looked like from inside Villa C. If you are a soldier or a Marine, or anyone trained in quick reaction force tactics, you will want to read this account.
And, even if, or especially if, you are just a citizen, you should read this report.
Tuesday, December 18th 2012
A couple of public diplomacy colleagues have asked me what we should think of the Pentagon memo issued earlier this month, the one that seems to say Strategic Communication is out. Over. Finished.
“What did you say?”
Does this mean the end of MIST teams at embassies? No more military websites targeting foreign audiences? Is it the end of a fat foreign media analysis landing on your desk every morning? No more social and cultural adaptation training for troops deploying?
Wednesday, November 28th 2012
I do not know whether Steven Spielberg has the concept of public diplomacy in mind or anticipates the impact of his films on foreign audiences as he creates and directs them. Whether intentional or not, with his new movie “Lincoln” that is rightfully garnering so much attention, he has made a film that is a stunning complement to official U. S. public diplomacy efforts. It is the stuff that creative Cultural Affairs Officers at US embassies around the world can use to put on thoughtful programs that explore the nature of democracy and the kind of leader it takes to navigate crises and to get things done.
Sunday, November 11th 2012
With the world looking on, a long, negative, grinding U.S. political campaign---the most expensive yet---has rumbled to a close. Not for the first time, we have to wonder what people abroad make of our antic election process, and especially of the one just past.
What do they take away from this election’s stupefying flood of attack ads, its Sandy-like tidal waves of anonymous funding, its largely superficial presidential debates, and the self-destructive braying of some Congressional candidates?
And what sense can American public diplomats make of it for their foreign audiences?