Our round-up of news, notes, tips, and tweets exhibiting how public diplomacy affects the world each and every day.
Foreign Policy lists five things that Richard Stengel should know for his new job as under secretary of public diplomacy. In short: forget everything you know and be ready for crisis management.
Fifth, finding the time to do everything he wants will be his biggest challenge. In government, the crisis-of-the-day and intense travel schedules hinder the achievement of long-term goals. Stengel can’t avoid crises, but he can limit his travel schedule. Travel for senior government officials, while necessary, becomes a respite from the unrelenting pressure of the job and it gives the illusion that they are doing something. But, as Kerry’s aides made clear to reporters early in his tenure, “odometer diplomacy” is a poor metric for accomplishment. Scaling back travel might be difficult — after all Stengel is a diplomat — but in the short term, he won’t be as jet-lagged. In the long term, he will have more energy and time to push his ideas through the bureaucracy. [Foreign Policy]
A new (or just updated) article on soft power by Joseph Nye was made available by Harvard. Nothing unfamiliar here though, unfortunately.
Power over information is much more widely distributed today than even a few decades ago. Information can often provide a key power resource, and more people have access to more information than ever before. As I describe in The Future of Power, this has lead to a diffusion of power away from governments to non-state actors ranging from large corporations to non-profits to informal ad hoc groups. This does not mean the end of the nation-state. Governments will remain the most powerful actors on the global stage, but the stage will become more crowded. And many of those other actors will compete effectively in the realm of soft power. The increasingly important cyber domain provides a good example. A powerful navy is important in controlling sea lanes; it does not provide much help on the internet. The historian A.J.P. Taylor wrote that in 19th century Europe, the mark of a great power was the ability to prevail in war, but as John Arquilla notes, in today’s global information age, victory may sometimes depend not on whose army wins, but on whose story wins. [Harvard]
— Gianluigi Negro (@giginegro) February 26, 2014
The call to action in a new Council on Foreign Relations report on promoting human rights in Iran recommends a public diplomacy focus on Internet freedom and NGO promotion.
The United States should support freedom of expression in Iran. One manner of helping these organizations lies in the realm of Internet freedom and public diplomacy. The United States has made tentative forays into reopening Internet service to Iran in the face of the regime’s efforts to choke it off, but more can and should be done. Washington should look into providing readily accessible means of communication to Iranian organizations, including software to help overcome Internet blockage and technologies to penetrate the Iranian government’s obstructions of satellite transmissions. The more its members can be enabled to speak freely, the more the Iranian public and the world will be able to hear their messages, and the better they can assert their views. The Iranian regime is deeply concerned about losing control over information technology and equally concerned that such measures will provide an avenue for highlighting its arbitrary practices. [Council on Foreign Relations via John Brown’s Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review]
At least one scholar lays out the argument that the Sochi Olympics were a public diplomacy success for Russia.
The resounding success of the Olympic Games at Sochi by many measures has probably surprised the global public, given the drumbeat of negative media coverage in the run-up to the opening ceremonies. Russia’s public diplomacy at Sochi has indeed been successful, but it has achieved a different kind of success from what we have come to expect in recent times. As a Great Power, Russia has said to the world in a straightforward and unvarnished way, ‘get to know us better, this is how we really are for good and for ill, deal with it.’ [SABC]
— Julia Watson (@julia_k_watson) February 26, 2014
The CPD Blog gives a brief overview on the emerging markets that will be focused on during their upcoming symposium on cultural diplomacy.
China, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, and Russia are now known globally for their economic strength. But what about their cultures? These states are much more than just their GDPs, and increasingly, they are attempting to gain global recognition not only for their rapid growth, but also for their rich cultural traditions. [CPD Blog]
— Bloom Consulting (@bloomconsult) February 26, 2014
A retired senior career U.S. diplomat joins the conversation on the pros and cons of political ambassadors versus career FSOs. (Also, awesome Photoshop on the headline photo.)
It makes sense that, in selecting ambassadors, the national interest should override personal affiliations and financial contributions for political campaigns. That being the case, the president should give more weight to individual capability, experience, and institutional morale when he nominates ambassadors. The Senate should do likewise when it deliberates on candidates. This approach would enable them select the best candidate among potential political or career ambassadors under consideration. Failure to do that short-changes the American people. [Jamaica Observer]
— Colin Hale (@colinmarchale) February 26, 2014
South Korea is enlisting influential Chinese bloggers to promote its national image on Chinese social media.
The South Korean Embassy here said Monday it will name a group of influential Chinese bloggers as civilian delegates this week to promote Korea’s national image in China as part of its public diplomacy drive. The Chinese group, comprised of 103 bloggers, will be tasked with enhancing mutual understanding and trust between the two nations throughout the embassy’s Weibo account, China’s version of Twitter, the embassy said in a statement. [Global Post]
— Gastrodiplomacy (@gastrodiplomacy) February 25, 2014
photo credit: Foreign Policy