Our round-up of news, notes, tips, and tweets exhibiting how public diplomacy affects the world each and every day.
After the on-air scandal that pushed RT into the American mainstream purview, Buzzfeed digs into the editorial thinking of Russia’s international broadcasting arm.
The public shake-up and skewed coverage of Ukraine has pulled aside RT’s curtain, exposing the network’s propaganda apparatus, which relies on a number of Western reporters and producers. Former and current RT employees from both the Moscow headquarters and its D.C. bureau, which heads a channel called RT America, described to BuzzFeed an atmosphere of censorship and pressure, in which young journalists on their first or second job are lured by the promise of a relatively well-paying position covering news for an international network. Except for Bevins and Wahl, all spoke on the condition of anonymity — some because they didn’t want their name associated with the network or were afraid they would face repercussions in their current jobs. [Buzzfeed]
(Just for curiosity sake, I would like to see a parallel investigative treatment done for VOA or Al-Jazeera or CCTV or any other government-run international broadcaster. Would there be similar findings?)
The U.S. government set aside roughly $1 billion for public diplomacy and citizen-to-citizen exchanges last week, will this effort be embraced?
Last week, the U.S. government released its 2015 budget request for diplomacy efforts, ringing in at $46 billion. While this funding covers everything from AIDS prevention in Vietnam to peacekeeping in the Congo, there is one sliver of the budget that deserves more attention: the roughly $1 billion set aside for “public diplomacy” and “citizen exchanges.” Despite its lack of buzz, this funding – which amounts to only around 1/500th of the defense budget – figures to be one of the most important investments in expanding U.S. global influence and innovation for years to come. Across the globe, nations that invest in people-to-people diplomacy are better positioned to reap the awards of the information economy. With advancements in communications technologies, nations would be wise to bring their citizens into the fold, particularly through international exchanges in fields like entrepreneurship, science and technology. If embraced, people-to-people diplomacy could unleash a new wave of innovation and economic growth. But while it sounds simple and easy (and it is), the problem is that most politicians don’t support it. [The Diplomat]
Politico’s Open Mike hosted Macon Phillips, the U.S. State Department Coordinator for International Information Programs, to talk digital diplomacy.
— Kelsey Donohue (@kelsdonohue) March 14, 2014
Interesting argument for the dissolving of the ambassador position at the friendlier embassies. Public diplomacy implications?
So, how do we get rid of ambassadors? The drawdown should start with the posts coveted by incompetent fundraisers: Paris, London, Rome. Embassies in key friendly states do have visas to process and play some continuing role coordinating run-of-the-mine policy at the staff level. But the largely ceremonial function of the ambassador has become dispensable. Would our relationship with countries like the United Kingdom, France and Canada be damaged if no ambassador were in residence? Probably not. Ambassadors in those cushy posts are more in the business of cutting ribbons and hosting cocktail parties than toughing it out on the diplomatic front lines. Political ambassadors are like minor royalty — harmless, until they do something silly. [Al Jazeera America]
— Candace Ren (@RensMicroDiplo) March 14, 2014
Science & Diplomacy argues for the reinstatement of the science attaché.
Reinstituting the science attaché program and other efforts aimed at promoting science diplomacy offers some tangible benefits. In decades past, science attachés, with PhDs in the sciences and operating within the U.S. Department of State, focused on the notion of science for diplomacy. Today the nature of global challenges alongside the sheer scientific potential that may arise through international collaboration has driven an expanded opportunity and need for “diplomacy for science.” Such diplomacy increasingly has important knowledge foundations with technological, economic, and societal implications. In such a context, U.S. embassies can play a greater role acquiring information regarding the host nation’s scientific priorities and its science culture in order to better inform potential scientific collaborators within the United States. This would help to streamline and enhance the approach for American innovators, businesses, and scientists to engage with their foreign counterparts, advancing scientific and diplomatic goals simultaneously. [Science & Diplomacy]
— Jonathan Henick (@J_Henick) March 13, 2014
Consider the title of this report for a minute: “China’s Soft Power Strategy and Cyber Intrusions: What Hollywood Should Know.” Soft power has never sounded so sinister than at the hands of a cyber-security company.
“China’s Soft Power Strategy and Cyber Intrusions: What Hollywood Should Know,” due to be officially published next week, posits that Chinese authorities see U.S. domination of filmed entertainment as a strategic advantage for America, and want that advantage for China. “We judge that links between China’s soft power strategy (in this case, their cultural means of influence) and its designation of ‘creative industries’ as strategic, provides the motivation for groups to commit cyber espionage,” says the report. Of course, FireEye sells threat protection and stands to gain financially if the entertainment industry invests in cyber-security. [Variety]
— Twiplomacy (@Twiplomacy) March 12, 2014
photo credit: John Gara/BuzzFeed