Selection and commentary by PDC members and authoritative experts in the field
Thursday, April 27th 2017
Donald J. Trump employs public diplomacy as much as any President we’ve seen. Yet his public diplomacy staff has not faced so much uncertainty in decades.
The State Department, supposed leader for the United States outreach to the rest of the world, named a new press spokesperson this week: one of the first political appointees to join Secretary Rex Tillerson. Secretary Tillerson has placed a highly respected ambassador in charge of the PD apparatus for the time being. However, broader guidelines going beyond the press briefings are skimpy.
Except for one bold marker. A budget is the clearest statement of priorities. On that basis, the White House has expressed little need of public diplomacy. Its initial budget request called for the elimination of all educational and cultural exchange programs except for the Fulbright exchange of scholars, on top of a 30 percent across-the-board cut in Department resources.Read More
Friday, April 21st 2017
Does U.S. government-funded broadcasting enhance national security by reporting facts to a curious world in a digital age? Billions of multimedia consumers around the planet would readily agree that unbiased information about America and the world is more crucial than ever before.Read More
Monday, April 10th 2017
The Suez crisis, unrest in Poland, and the Hungarian uprising “dominated the international news” in 1956. This review of U.S. broadcasting at the time noted “in terms of international communications, the most important was the Hungarian uprising.” The authors counseled that “If policy is unclear, the audience may misperceive it even when operators do not. Reactions may be harmful to the interests of both the communicator and the receivers.”
Article: Foreign Policy and Communications During the Hungarian UprisingRead More
Saturday, April 8th 2017
Major General Edward G. Lansdale (1908-1987) – an Air Force intelligence officer whose career included service in the Philippines during the Huk Rebellion and in Vietnam during that war – was a major thinker and practitioner in counterinsurgency. He emphasized “hearts and minds,” psychological operations, and civic actions. When William J. Lederer and Eugene Burdick wrote their influential novel, The Ugly American, “Colonel Hillendale” was modeled on Lansdale.
A memorandum that Lansdale penned in 1963 is frequently cited by scholars, but it has not been available on the web. Lansdale wrote the memorandum for military advisors in Vietnam, but its profile of the images, traits, and behaviors of Americans – touching on professional competence, language skills, accessibility, empathy, directness, enthusiasm, adaptability, patience, humor, temper, and politics -- is evergreen. So is his counsel to “know the country” and “be a good guest.”
Title: MEMORANDUM, From Maj. Gen. Lansdale, Subject: Through Foreign EyesRead More
Thursday, April 6th 2017
John Matel, who retired one year ago from a career in public diplomacy as a Foreign Service Officer, left this impression of our most recent First Monday Forum with three deans of international relations schools discussing trends in teaching.
[Taken from Facebook, with John Matel's permission]
Keeping some contact with my earlier life in public diplomacy, I went to “First Monday” held at AFSA and sponsored by the Public Diplomacy Council. This episode featured deans of schools that teach public diplomacy: James Goldgeier of American University, Joel Hellman of Georgetown, and Reuben Brigety II of George Washington talking about what they are teaching these days.
I have long said that public diplomacy is not rocket science. Almost everything we do in public diplomacy is simple and most of it is obvious. Doing it is not so easy. A comparison might be my cooking skills versus those of Gordon Ramsey. We can both use the same recipe, but I suspect his results might be better.Read More