Selection and commentary by PDC members and authoritative experts in the field
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.
Sunday, April 22nd 2012
Here’s a thought: why don't the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) agents protect the President when he travels to foreign countries?
If there is a constant theme in public diplomacy, it is that the people in the field, at the embassy, know best how to do what the USG needs done.
One reason the Secret Service agents in Cartagena got caught with their pants down (metaphorically speaking) is because they were out of their element. They were in unfamiliar, foreign territory.
Friday, April 20th 2012
Have you noticed the chatter about the State Department and new media over the past month?
ITEM: After a Tumblr blog put captions on photos of Secretary Clinton wearing sunglasses, imagining text messages that she might be sending to celebrities, the Secretary didn’t protest. She invited the authors to the State Department to meet in person. Public diplomacy can’t buy this kind of publicity.
Wednesday, April 18th 2012
The current flap over misbehaving Secret Service agents in Cartagena is worth not much more than an amused “tsk-tsk” to most Americans.
But, in fact, this incident underlines a problem faced by public diplomacy officers every time and every place the President travels. There are simply too many people involved in Presidential travel. And many of them have not much real work to do, which leaves them lots of time to get into mischief.