Selection and commentary by PDC members and authoritative experts in the field
Friday, May 18th 2012
There were many different audiences for the spectacle that unfolded in China during Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent visit, but one audience in particular was paying close attention.
Imagine you’re a human rights activist in China, or Iran, or Venezuela, or Russia (the list, unfortunately, could be long). A famous and courageous — the two traits often go together in China — dissident has managed to escape from house arrest and made his way into the safest place in town for people like you: the U.S. embassy. But suddenly the news reports say he's being escorted away by Chinese officials, and now… what’s this? He's frantically appealing for help from the United States, and he and his friends and American officials are all squabbling about whether he left the protection of the U.S. embassy on his own free will or because he was pressured to leave.
Suddenly the country that you could always count on for standing up for freedom and human rights is looking like it has better things to do than deal with this poor guy, who also happens to be blind.
How do you say "thrown under the bus" in Chinese?
Tuesday, May 15th 2012
For well more than a decade, Korea experts who specialize in international media have been examining the impact of foreign broadcasts and DVDs on users in North Korea. They have done so through a combination of in-country surveys and debriefings of defectors from North Korea, refugees and travelers abroad. In annual reports, Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders invariably have ranked that country as having the “least free” media in the world. Yet the curtain of near total silence appears to be opening as never before in North Korea.
Thursday, May 10th 2012
Perhaps the State Department should take a leaf out of the Marine Corps playbook, especially in terms of evaluation and measurement of results. I for one would like to see a similar study of State Department Public Diplomacy in Afghanistan 2001 to 2010. We learn from our mistakes as much or more than from our "self-rated" successes.
Wednesday, April 25th 2012
Thank you, Madame Secretary. It is an honor to be here with you, today, and I am grateful for the confidence that you and President Obama have placed in me.
Monday, April 23rd 2012
I had an opportunity recently to meet Tara Sonenshine, the newly appointed Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, and I came away both impressed and hopeful that she will bring a fresh, informed perspective to this important position.
We certainly need it.
The United States seems to have more than its share of image problems these days, from the Secret Service scandal in Colombia and the partying and flagrant disregard for the taxpayer’s dollar by the General Services Administration, to the latest batch of embarrassing photos to emerge from the Afghanistan battlefield.
All of these are public diplomacy problems in the sense that they conspicuously contradict the values of anti-corruption and human rights that we embrace for ourselves and advocate for others. So when we fall short, everybody notices.
Most Americans aren’t surprised by that. We know we’re far from perfect, and we’re also a nation that believes in forgiveness and second chances. (For proof of that, just look at our politicians.) But because of our history, our achievements, and, let’s face it, our occasional lecturing to others, we’re sometimes held to impossibly high standards.
The most surprising example of this that I ever experienced occurred in, of all places, Iran.