Our round-up of news, notes, tips, and tweets exhibiting how public diplomacy affects the world each and every day.
Using Pepsi as a frame, NPR points out that the U.S. could leverage its economic intertwinement with Russia to get it to do what we want if only U.S. companies were significant players in the Russian market. I think they missed the point of soft power.
It’s the age-old chicken and egg problem, says Amit Khandelwal, who teaches at Columbia University’s Business School. American businesses, he says, are afraid to invest in Russia because it’s risky; and it might be less risky if there were more of a U.S. corporate presence there. “The U.S. won’t have the potential threat of sanctions if there is no pain on both sides,” Khandelwal says. “There is no pain on both sides precisely because no business has found it attractive enough to substantially grow their operations in Russia.” In other words, in order for the U.S. to have more soft power in Russia, the U.S. will have to sell that country more than soft drinks. [NPR]
While this is not directly related to public diplomacy, the repercussions of using social media as a venue to view conflict will influence how government and non-state actors utilize media channels for years to come.
But although new or social media has played an important part in bringing us closer to the “real” during conflict, it can also take us further away. Constantly viewing conflict on a Buzzfeed list or Instagram filter can also make it seem unreal, or what cultural theorist Jean Baudrillard might have called the “hyperreal”, an exaggerated version of reality which ultimately blurs the boundaries between reality and simulation altogether. Baudrillard would even go so far as to suggest reality is a pointless byproduct in the rush to create or share an experience. Perhaps people Instagram protests because preserving real-life occurrences with a vintage filter now feels more authentic than actually living through them. Perhaps we’re so used to the Arab spring narrative of protest that it seems more real to apply that to any unfolding conflict than to understand the real-life context. [The Guardian via PDiN]
— Yeni Diplomasi (@YeniDiplomasi) March 11, 2014
China will be the single economic powerhouse of the world sooner rather than later, but it will still lack the soft power it covets. According to this author, economic superiority does not equate dominance in world affairs.
Yet, China does have the capacity to be more influential than the U.S. It is just that the circumstances surrounding China’s success are more economically driven than they are socially focused. In fact, looking back at history that is the case for practically any country that has seen success, whether it was Great Britain in the 19th century or the US in the 20th century. These nations faced social issues while experiencing unprecedented economic growth. Therefore to blame China for neglecting social issues while praising other countries for their social insight is not necessarily justified. Nevertheless China must not only focus on its economic power. [The Crimson]
— Naomi Leight-Give’on (@NomiLite) March 11, 2014
Twiplomacy confused for customer service?
“Trying to travel to India urgently & the Indian Embassy has had my passport for 10 days for a 24hr service, Help,” the Delhi Daredevils most expensive overseas player tweeted on Monday afternoon, asking the MEA to help. Delhi Daredevils, who are building their team from scratch, bought controversial Pietersen for a whopping Rs 9 crore. Pietersen is supposed to meet Daredevils’ top officials before the start of the IPL season to chalk out few details over the next few days. Pietersen tweet did the trick as MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin responded to his tweet within the next few hours. “Good news. Twiplomacy works!! Necessary clearance just received from Sports Ministry. Mission to grant visa soon. C u in India soon,” the news of visa clearance came as a relief for the Delhi camp. [Daily News & Analysis India]
— Gastrodiplomacy (@gastrodiplomacy) March 10, 2014
To respond to the U.S. State Department’s recent release, “President Putin’s Fiction,” Russian diplomats did not use Twitter or Facebook; they turned to Weibo.
Russian diplomats have launched a major verbal offensive against Washington over America’s criticism of Moscow’s aggressive stance on Ukraine on the popular Chinese microblog website, Sina Weibo. Abandoning any pretence of diplomatic niceties, the Russians laid into American foreign policy in Eastern Europe, leaving no stone unturned. It’s interesting that Moscow has chosen Weibo as the preferred social media platform to launch its tirade against Uncle Sam. Russia’s aggressive foreign policy has a much more sympathetic audience in China, where Vladimir Putin is admired by some pundits and nationalists as the kind of strongman who has the courage to say no to America. [China Spectator]
— Alexandra Nemeth (@AlexandraNemeth) March 10, 2014
— Anton Tsvetov (@antsvetov) March 11, 2014
photo credit: Peter Dejong/AP