Selection and commentary by PDC members and authoritative experts in the field
Tuesday, March 11th 2014
David I. Hitchcock, a member of the Public Diplomacy Council, was a public diplomacy officer for 35 years with the U.S. Information Agency. Overseas, he served in Hue, Kobe/Osaka, Sapporo, Tokyo, and Tel Aviv. He held many significant positions in Washington, becoming USIA's Area Director for East Asia and the Pacific. He was the 1987 recipient of the Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Public Diplomacy. After retiring with the rank of Career Minister in 1992, he was a Fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
CSIS published his short monograph, "U.S. Public Diplomacy," in 1988. At the time, there were proposals -- Washington buzz -- to separate USIA's "advocacy" from its work to explain American society and build long-term relationships. Hitchcock believed in the synergies that both kinds of work provided. They were "too intertwined to be divisible," he noted.
His 1988 book contained one of the best short descriptions of how USIA officers brought many kinds of resources -- programs in the toolkit, if you will -- to help attain U.S. foreign policy goals. This was, of course, long before the internet. For those considering new modalities in U.S. Public Diplomacy, these two pages describe USIA's approach to Public Diplomacy at its best. Note especially how programs unfolded from a plan.
Thursday, March 6th 2014
Henry Kissinger notes in the Washington Post on March 5, “Public discussion on Ukraine is all about confrontation.”
And yet, this is a situation where neither the United States nor the Europeans have any reasonable way to use their military options in resolving the crisis. Even the President’s most vocal critics do not suggest we put American boots on Ukrainian ground.
So, as Lenin said, "What is to be done?"
This is a good time for diplomacy. There should be, and apparently there is a good deal of diplomatic work going on in Washington and other capitals. Most of that is focused on convincing Mr. Putin that he should not continue his “illegal actions in Ukraine” and promising severe consequences if this Russian action continues. We’ve threatened things such as President Obama not going to the next G-8 meeting in Sochi, and we announced a visa ban on officials and others deemed responsible for actions that have undermined Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
But, if you were President Putin, would any of this dissuade you? After all, these Russian moves in Ukraine seem to be quite popular in Russia itself, and perhaps even as well among a certain group in eastern Ukraine. Putin doubtless believes, as he indicated in his press conference Tuesday, that he has the Russian people and their mental image of Russia’s history on his side.
What can move Putin and his circle of supporters is public diplomacy.
Wednesday, March 5th 2014
The Demilitarization of American Diplomacy: Two Cheers for Striped Pants by Ambassador Laurence Pope has just been published by Palgrave Macmillan. He was Ambassador to Chad from 1993 to 1996 and Charge d’Affaires to Libya in the aftermath of Benghazi. At other times during his career, he was Director for Northern Gulf Affairs, Associate Director for Counter-Terrorism, and Political Advisor to General Zinni at Central Command. He now lives in Maine. The book is fresh, direct and uncommonly blunt. I posed some questions.
Monday, March 3rd 2014
After some years working on Capitol Hill, James Thomas Snyder became an information officer in the NATO Public Diplomacy staff in Brussels from 2005 to 2011. Explaining NATO’s policies in the Balkans, Kosovo, and Afghanistan was part of his job, so he was naturally in touch with American public diplomacy. His new book, published by Palgrave Macmillan, The United States and the Challenge of Public Diplomacy, is “about how the United States can communicate better with the world.” I posed some questions.
Sunday, March 2nd 2014
A few months have passed since Senator Marco Rubio of Florida spoke to the American Enterprise Institute on “Restoring Principle: A Foreign Policy Worthy of the American Dream.” It’s worth noting, however, since he included a few words on Public Diplomacy in his comments on the current "robust debate about the future of America’s role in the world."