In her article, “How Power Really Works in the 21st Century: Beyond Soft, Hard, and Smart,” Amy Zalman defined smart power as, “a foreign policy that employes all the tools at our disposal– diplomatic, military, political, legal, and cultural.” She asserts that even though President Obama and Secretary Clinton are using the term like its so fetch (…Mean Girls reference…), more work needs to be done in examining how those five tools engage and utilize both hard and soft power.
The most insightful aspect of her article was when she expresses her view that, “States are becoming more adept at using the power of marketing and PR to promote their own standing internationally, just as unofficial organizations use violence in ways that limit States’ ability to respond to them.” Thus, the title of this blog: Who’s Smarter?
I never thought about terrorism or radical non-state actors through this lens before. These people know that we do not and will not negotiate with terrorists. This stance in and of itself is all the leverage they need. They can laugh in the face of diplomatic efforts, utilize non-conventional warfare to thwart our military, act outside of the politics of the States they operate in, disregard the law, and manipulate their own culture without blinking an eye.
How can you respond to behavior like this? As we have seen, it is difficult to respond to a fight that is brought to you by an extremist sect and operating in States whose official government does not support the actions of this group. So in this scenario who really is smarter?
I would like to think that we are, that all democracies are. And I think that as we learn from the past and charge forward in this new political and international climate we now live in, we will hammer out the details of Smart Power and as we usually do, America will win.
I’ve spent some time reflecting on the term ‘Public Diplomacy’ while thinking back over the semester. What I’ve realized is that if you ask, most people say they know what PD means, but they have trouble putting it into words. While looking over the readings we’ve covered this semester and after doing some Google searching, I still feel as though my favorite definition of PD was expressed in a brief and somewhat odd little article we were assigned, called Coneflower.
In it, Donna Marie Oglesby restates Robin Brown’s definition and thoughts on PD from his paper, “The Four Paradigms of Public Diplomacy.” She says, “He posits that there are four recurring sets of ideas about the nature and purpose of this activity evident in the external communication approaches taken by nation states: as an extension of diplomacy, as an instrument of cultural relations, as an instrument of conflict, and as a tool of national image construction.” I think that summary accurately identifies the pillars of what PD hopes to accomplish.
Moreover, I agree with Oglesby’s caveat that, “the political culture of the state drives how it sees the international environment and what and how it communicates externally.” An example of this is how under President Bush (after 9/11) we saw the closing of the gates and building of walls around America and the detriment this had on Public Diplomacy efforts; and conversely how the theme of hope and change under the first Obama Administration brought a reopening of these gates and a greater priority set on national image construction. This thought led me to wonder how things could have turned out had the Republicans taken over the White House and to a lesser extent, about what will happen under the next Secretary of State.
All in all, Coneflower does an excellent job of clearly explaining PD and lifting the fog of confusion surrounding PD. I will be sure to send the article to my family with the hopes that they’ll finally understand what I’m going to AU for!
Last week I was at an annual fundraising dinner. Former Vice President Dick Cheney was the honoree and keynote speaker. Lewis “Scooter” Libby presented his award. Also in the audience was former Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tevi Troy. While looking around the room and taking note of the people in the audience, filled with wealthy republicans, it made me think about the different perspectives that Republicans and Democrats (as the parties stand at present) have on Public Diplomacy.
Dick Cheney, in my mind, represented the wall that we built– keeping immigrants out– and by and large, limiting engagement and interaction with foreign nationals here at home. The support staff working the event represented the youth, who have grown into adulthood with an Administration whose focus has been on re-engaging with the world and establishing worthwhile public diplomacy pursuits. I wonder if the dichotomy really is between the right and the left, or is it an age disparity?
Moreover, in the speeches given during the evening, there was much talk of war and conflict and the serious issues that we as a nation face with dealing with Iran, Syria, Hamas, etc. While there was discussion on the military and the politics of war, there was absolutely no discussion of diplomacy, peace, or creative solutions to global issues. Not only is this discouraging but also a bit depressing.
The event was successful, but the evening put me in a reflective mood. Nothing a steak dinner and a glass of wine couldn’t cure.
I stumbled upon this video (or click on photo above) via Anne-Marie Slaughter’s twitter feed:
Intrigued, I watched this short video, above, and found myself inspired. The short film features children in Cateura, Paraguay who are a part of a ‘Recycled Orchestra’. Adults in their town are making classical instruments out of items discarded in the landfill that their town is built on. You would never believe how beautiful these instruments sound, until you hear their music. The kids are truly talented, and have such a love and respect for the art, it is uncanny.
This got me to thinking of how powerful film can be as a tool of public diplomacy. We’ve seen films that aim to raise awareness like the Kony movement earlier this year, but this seems different This seems to me like the sort of program that could be transformed into a public diplomacy initiative.
Bring these kids to the United States with their recycled instruments. Take them to perform in front students at private schools across America, to show privileged kids what rising above adversity really means; take them to perform in front of students in low income schools, to show disadvantaged students that there is hope. Send maestros, musicians, and music teachers to South America to teach classes and learn from the locals.
I think this could be a wonderful Cultural Diplomacy program that would prove highly beneficial for both sides. Moreover, even just showing students in America videos like this, and producing videos like this that promote what Americans are doing here to help their communities and sharing those with foreign audiences, would be a good move for changing perspectives and attitudes.
I agree with Slaughter when she notes that film has the power to make great stories known, and i would like to see more stories like this spread across our countries and invade the minds of our citizens to become globally engaged.
Since the beginning of this class I have been wary of the usage of social media in public diplomacy. In my personal life, I view social media and the variety of “new media” outlets much like the image above depicts. Sort of a “Who cares anyways,” or “Cool story, bro” type of activity. While I embraced twitter for this class, and now have an appreciation for it as an information aggregator, I still do not tweet about my life because I don’t think I have anything all that important or meaningful to offer to the world.
The Egypt/Libya debacle at the beginning of the semester did nothing to dissuade my viewpoint, however reading Jillian York’s article, “The Arab Digital Vanguard,” changed my perspective a little bit and throughout the semester I have become less of a skeptic.
I hadn’t really considered the impact that blogging, tweeting, and posting (whether on Facebook, Tumblr, or other platforms) had on citizen diplomacy—how much easier it made engagement—until I had time to reflect on it in this class. Nor had I looked at the activity from the perspective of a tool to raise awareness and attention for an issue or cause, like York explains with her Wael Abbas example or Slaughter’s #FreeMona example.
Moreover, I agree with York’s point that “the act of witnessing raw events that were previously only available via the reports of foreign correspondents and censored of their most disturbing elements has undoubtably shifted the thinking of individuals and state actors alike.” Seeing is believing, and once you’ve seen atrocities or the like from people on the ground, it becomes harder and harder to ignore the situation or act like it isn’t happening. Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, and Tumblr all make it easier than ever to spread images and videos. I think this is a huge success and positive aspect of new media.
That being said, there are still aspects of social media that I am wary about. For one, it is difficult to verify identities and to prove that something posted is truthful, this can lead to exaggerations and/or misreporting. Another aspect that gives me pause is the widespread use of Twitter among federal government representatives and leaders. My worry on this front is that when so many people are using these outlets to represent the U.S., the institutional voice and messaging can get lost along the way, proving counterproductive to public diplomacy efforts.
All in all, I would say my perspective of social media in relation to public diplomacy has evolved along the course of the semester, but that I am still very wary. Just call me old fashioned i guess.
Public Diplomacy has to change in the new media landscape to engage more networked audiences. There is now more reliance on virtual word-of-mouth and on creating new branding approaches. The challenge for all media organizations is to embrace and benefit from new platforms. Public Diplomats need to use new technology to create lots of few-to-few interactions as recommended in the report 10 Rules of New Engagement that was published by Intermedia in 2011 and written by Ali Fischer and Susan Gigli. These types of interactions engage small groups of people from different nations, which is more effective than working with large groups and when added together they created a much larger audience. These types of interactions also help to infiltrate networks and spread loyalty toward a position or cause, another recommendation in the 10 Rules of New Engagement.
Another recommendation for Public Diplomacy practitioners is to engage through sharing, commenting, linking. This is the best way to engage with publics and should be utilized in order to reach more people and help to build a stronger network of people. Another addition to new media is that a more networked audience means that geography no longer predetermines your audience. New media has expanded audience and new PD practices have to appeal to this broader audience.
Public Diplomacy has changed immensely because of the addition of new media but even with the help of these new technologies there are many challenges to the effectiveness of Public Diplomacy. Their needs to be a clearer way of quantifying information so that it can be analyzed in the future and is able to be assessed in the future for effectiveness. There also needs to be more collaboration with organizations that may have varied beliefs about Public Diplomacy. The greatest challenge for Public Diplomacy is understanding different cultures and applying these skills in the long run or for future diplomats. It is vital that PD practitioners have an understanding of the various viewpoints and cultural differences that affect our communication across borders.
The Arab Spring was a group of uprisings that began in the Arab world in late 2010 with the peak of the protests occurring in the Spring of 2011. The Blogs and Bullets II report that was published by the United States Institute for Peace begins to address a systematic bias in the online data generated during the Arab uprisings. Most of the data that has been exported to date represents the production of online information and the relationship between different social media users. In the article, Blog and Bullets II, USIP builds on these findings by using data drawn from bit.ly, a URL shortener which helps to track who actually consumed information about the Arab Spring.
Through this analysis the USIP was able to find strong evidence that new media informs international audiences and mainstream media reporting as opposed to playing a direct role in organizing protests or allowing local audiences to share news directly with others. The report states that, “the key role for new media may be its bridging function: from an activist core to mass publics, from user-generated content to mainstream mass media, and from local struggles to international attention.” Overall this report found that new media is an important part of spreading information even if it does not have a direct relationship with the organization and attendance of events.
Jillian York has a very different opinion on the rise of blogging in Arab countries in her report the Arab Digital Vanguard. She states that over “a decade of efforts” by revolutionaries contributed to the Arab spring, not just a sudden interest in social media. This analysis is a little harsh, but is valuable in that it makes it clear that the application of new technology in PD doesn’t necessarily mean PD can stand alone, but that traditional PD still has to be involved in the process. We can’t just deny what we already know, but blogging and social media still stand as powerful contributing tools in the realm of new media.
Public diplomacy relies on audiences to build the reputation of the United States in the international community. These audiences are the people that matter for changing the opinion of the general public when it comes to the policies of the United States. In the past the argument has been about how to access these audiences, but with the revolution of new technology audiences are everywhere, which creates a new set of difficulties for practitioners of Public Diplomacy.
Jan Melissen in Beyond the New Public Diplomacy states that while traditional diplomatic practice is about intangible international relations processes, public diplomacy is about people and visibility. Melissen recommends that in order to succeed at this mission you have to know how best to engage and where people are. The audience necessitates Public Diplomacy practices and now with changing technology the audience has grown much larger and is much more accessible, but this doesn’t mean that we know what it is that we should be writing or broadcasting to get people’s attention, so that is something that needs to be worked on.
Also in the New Public Diplomacy, Melissen states that this new surge of technology has taken public diplomacy beyond communicating and audience-building and made it an important part of internal communication. This can be seen especially in situations where diplomatic groups represent a varied or diverse audience within their structure such as NATO. These types of organizations have been working with people with different backgrounds since their beginning and with the addition of social media and new technological resources these organizations can teach a lot about these audiences but also stand to gain a lot from the expansion of them.
Another scholar in International Relations, Antoaneta Vanc stated in her article the Public Diplomacy Communication Toolkit that public diplomacy has come to mean an “instrument used by states, associations of states, and some sub-state and non-state actors to understand cultures, attitudes and behavior; to build and manage relationships; and to influence thoughts and mobilize actions to advance their interests and values.” This definition differs from Melissens in that Vanc is more interested in the way in which the audience has changed in terms of opening up to more people and the management of these new kinds of relationships between state and non-state actors. The increase in audience allows for more dialogue to occur and for more information to be shared, the rise in audience is caused by advancements in technology but is also leading to advancements in the field of Public Diplomacy.
Soft power is a term that was coined by Joseph Nye and in international relations refers to non-coercive actions taken by governments. This term has become an important foundation for defining intercultural relations. Soft power emphasizes the need for cooperation between nations as opposed to hard power, which promotes military and economic actions. Soft power has become a very important tool of diplomacy even though it is difficult to measure. Cultures are multifaceted and soft power has to be designed to fit each nation’s individual needs, which makes it difficult to quantitatively assess and compare.
The New Persuaders II Report is a global ranking of soft power that was created by Jonothan McClory. In this report he discusses how he came about creating a ranking for soft power. He uses five sub indexes in order to break down the important factors in soft power. The five sub groups are culture, government, business/innovation, diplomacy, and education. These factors are all important from a Western or more developed perspective, but these may not be the most important components of soft power in nations that struggle to meet the basic needs for their people. This is the major flaw in McClory’s report.
In the New Persuaders it is clear that he created his index with a Western perspective. McClory states in his report that, “The Government sub-index is designed to assess a state’s political institutions, values, and the effectiveness of its government. He also says that, “it should be noted that the index is biased towards a Western conceptualisation of political values and human rights.” This shows that McClory is aware that western bias is a problem, but he doesn’t offer a solution. In another part of the report he also states that,
“It is worth mentioning that the ‘political’ pillar of soft power is inherently biased towards Western ideals of government and democracy. As a result, non-democratic countries face an immediate disadvantage in any assessment of relative soft power.”
One of the major reasons why this kind of index is important is because it can be used to help other countries get more funding for diplomacy efforts. Though this index may be useful in getting western nations more funding, because of it’s bias it loses some of it’s value as a source of measurement. Ambassador Brian Carlson came into class and described the difficulty of quantitative evaluation as similar to dropping a bucket of water in the ocean and looking the ripples instead of trying to measure the rise in water levels overall. He believes that evaluation needs to be looked at differently and defined by the smaller components rather than looking at the large components all together. McClory’s report is a step in the right direction but it needs to be broken down further in order to become more inclusive of the values of all nations.