Monday, February 18th 2013
Have you subscribed to Under Secretary Sonenshine’s biweekly Snapshot of Public Diplomacy in Action?
It’s the first newsletter of public diplomacy activities available to the general public that I recall. That’s a step forward in this age of government transparency. Every Snapshot contains text and photos about conferences, receptions and other happenings organized by U.S. public diplomacy staffs around the world.
But I wonder what unintended impressions thoughtful taxpayers might draw from these activity reports. Do they seem soft, perhaps superficial? In the impending reduction of government budgets, isn’t this the first thing you would cut from the foreign operations budget?
Friday, January 4th 2013
I notice that the National Defense Authorization Act not only reauthorizes the Public Diplomacy Advisory Commission (see Brian Carlson's post below.) It also reduces long-standing restrictions on the dissemination of public diplomacy materials, aimed at foreign audiences, within the United States.
Monday, September 17th 2012
It’s been less than a week since U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other American diplomats were murdered in Libya, unprotected by Diplomatic Security in a notoriously unstable country. Yet six days after that chaotic night when our government didn't even know where Ambassador Stevens was for up to eight hours, until his body was found at a local hospital, the focus of much of the discussion of these events has been stuck on domestic politics rather than on questions such as: Where was our ambassador's security? Why was he in an unguarded consulate more than 400 miles from the embassy on the anniversary of 9/11? Why were they not better prepared?
Tuesday, September 11th 2012
Today is a good opportunity to recall the modest role that public diplomacy has played in counter-terrorism since the September 11 attacks.
One of the attackers passed through the security checkpoint at Dulles Airport shortly after I did on September 11, 2001. (A friend who saw the surveillance video revealed this to me.) I was scheduled for a flight to China for a business trip. I was so fortunate. We all mourn the lives of all those who died or lost loved ones on that day -- and in the days and months following.
Thursday, May 31st 2012
What is it about U.S. public diplomacy that we must hide it from Americans? Is it so abhorrent that it would embarrass the taxpayer, upset the Congress (which has surprisingly little additional insight on the details of public diplomacy), or upend our democracy? Of our international broadcasting, such as the Voice of America, do we fear the content to be so persuasive and compelling that we dare not permit the American media, academia, nor the Congress, let alone the mere layperson, to have the right over oversight to hold accountable their government?