Our round-up of news, notes, tips, and Tweets exhibiting how public diplomacy affects the world each and every day.
Could a systemic problem with American public diplomacy be that ambassadorships are linked to money instead of ability?
As an adult, Shirley Temple Black shed her signature ringlets, became a Republican fundraiser and went on to a career as a respected diplomat in the Nixon, Ford and George H.W. Bush administrations. Even her boss, Henry Kissinger, was impressed, calling her “very intelligent, very tough-minded, very disciplined.” But not all fundraisers are as able as Black, who died Monday. Consider George James Tsunis, who has been nominated by President Obama as ambassador to Norway, and Colleen Bell, Obama’s pick to be ambassador to Hungary. Both won their appointments after bundling money for the president’s reelection campaign, and both got off to inauspicious starts at their confirmation hearings. [L.A. Times]
There is an bloody battle for the hearts and minds of Americans: the competing interests of Chinese press outlets.
These competing conceptions of the same story played out in what has emerged as a hotbed for the Chinese press, with websites and newspapers owned and controlled by the Chinese government squaring off with independent publications in a battle to shape public opinion in the United States. China’s ruling Communist Party clearly considers this campaign for hearts and minds to be an important battle. Twelve hours before the fire, the New Year’s edition of the Communist Party’s leading overseas paper, the People’s Daily Overseas Edition, had hit newsstands bearing a message from Chinese President Xi Jinping: “Elevate Soft Power, Realize the Chinese Dream.” In the piece, Xi called for China to “strengthen international dissemination capabilities and carefully construct an outward-oriented communications system.” Translation: Chinese state media is going global. [Huffington Post]
Latest US soft power export to China: late night talk shows http://t.co/kisghlUvEQ
— Elizabeth Economy (@LizEconomy) February 12, 2014
Pure genius cultural diplomacy move by Japanese diplomat: building relationships through karaoke diplomacy.
My cultural diplomacy activities fall into two basic categories. The first is producing events and fashion shows and giving lectures at universities and venues overseas. The second is mingling with young people who are interested in Japan and hanging out with them. While the former is worth doing as a career, I also stress doing the latter. What I can do as an individual is very limited. But if we promote cultural diplomacy with these young people, we can build various paths to better mutual understanding … Going to karaoke together is a good way to facilitate social interaction. In China, where karaoke is ubiquitous, “karaoke diplomacy” is indispensable. [The Japan News]
— Jonathan Henick (@J_Henick) February 13, 2014
More on how Canada needs to approach its new dedication to digital diplomacy if it expects it to have returns.
What is still missing in the Canadian approach, however, is the recognition that digital diplomacy involves, at its core, a willingness to engage in two-way communications between government officials and interlocutors of various types. This requires, in turn, both a social-media presence (accounts with followers) and a policy framework allowing diplomats to communicate in the relatively informal and rapid style of these media. In his speech this week, John Baird suggested that Canada is belatedly getting into the digital diplomacy game. He told his audience that diplomacy may never live up to the Silicon Valley mantra of “move fast and break things,” but that in the “environment of instant communication and social media, we do have to move faster and not be afraid to try new things or to make mistakes.” Further, Mr. Baird’s office reports that in the last six months, the foreign ministry has launched 60 new accounts on Twitter and another 50 on Facebook. Clearly, the push is on. [The Globe and Mail]
— USC Public Diplomacy (@PublicDiplomacy) February 14, 2014
BBC News Magazine looks at Samantha Power’s use of Twitter as a newly granted soap box.
Power is an interesting case study, however. She had been virtually silent for years – and is now welcoming Kerry to Twitter. “Glad you’ve been unleashed!” she wrote. She was talking about his foray into social media. But she could have been talking about her own role as an activist and a diplomat. She joined President Barack Obama’s White House as a National Security Council official in 2009. Before that she had been not only a journalist, she was a campaigner. She covered Bosnia and Darfur, and her 2002 book about genocide, A Problem From Hell, won a Pulitzer … Yet it remains unclear whether the sacrifices she has made to join the government, such as the need to stay silent at times and at other times to act diplomatically, have been worth it. She is now is speaking out, but whether her tweets make a difference is debatable. [BBC]
— IPDGC (@IPDGC) February 14, 2014
Here is a brief overview of what was discussed during the Public Diplomacy Council’s Fall Forum from a few months ago.
In the future, more flexibility, risk-taking and reform will be required of public diplomacy practitioners and policy makers, our panel concluded. This was the last of three plenary sessions of the PDC’s Fall Forum held November 12, 2013, at the George C. Marshall Conference Center of the U.S. Department of State. It was our “look to the future,” with the mandate to imagine what lies in store for public diplomacy. [Public Diplomacy Council]
— Antony Phillipson (@HCAPhillipson) February 14, 2014
I just stumbled across the group blog by students in the public diplomacy and global communications class at London Metropolitan University. There is a good variety of topics to browse.
— CountryBranding (@CountryBranding) February 13, 2014
This stems from the fact that many citizens of the three countries are infected by what might be called “national sentiment,” Ogoura noted. Politicians do not enter into negotiations to improve relations, citing that national sentiment; and the media, too, has launched into reporting that fosters a dislike of China and South Korea on that same basis of national sentiment. Even intellectuals are infected by this mood, to the point where they are not willing to say what must be said. All of these players are citing “national sentiment” even though they are the very ones who influence that sentiment. Calder joined in the discussion at that point, noting that the US government has become seriously concerned about the friction between the three countries. [Nippon]
— culture360.org (@culture360_asef) February 14, 2014
photo credit: The Japan News