Bruce Gregory is a visiting scholar at George Washington University. From 2002-2017 he taught courses on public diplomacy, media, and global affairs in the Global Communication MA Program, School of Media and Public Affairs, and Elliott School of International Affairs. He was director of the University’s Institute of Public Diplomacy from 2005-2008. He is also a non-resident faculty Fellow at the University of Southern California’s Center on Public Diplomacy and an associate at Georgetown University where he taught courses on public diplomacy in the Master of Foreign Service Program from 2009-2012. From 1985-1998, he was executive director of the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. Prior to retiring from government service in 2002, he served as a coordinator on the Department of State’s Response to Terrorism Working Group on Public Diplomacy.
An archive of resources compiled by Bruce Gregory (2002-present) is maintained at George Washington University’s Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication, Diplomacy’s Public Dimension: Books, Articles, Websites. Current issues are also posted by the University of Southern California’s Center on Public Diplomacy, the Public Diplomacy Council, and MountainRunner.us.
October 19, 2021
Intended for teachers of public diplomacy and related courses, here is an update on resources that may be of general interest. Suggestions for future updates are welcome.
Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication
George Washington University
John Arquilla, Bitskrieg: The Challenge of Cyberwarfare, (Polity, 2021). Twenty years ago, John Arquilla (Naval Postgraduate School) and his frequent collaborator, David Ronfeldt (RAND) asked, “What If There Is a Revolution in Diplomatic Affairs?” Diplomacy scholars and practitioners may recall their influential paper presented by the US Institute of Peace in its Virtual Diplomacy Series in 2000. They also-co-authored The Emergence of Noopolitik: Toward an American Information Strategy (RAND, 1999, 2007). In Bitskrieg, a play on the German military’s blitzkrieg tactic, Arquilla draws on decades of research to discuss how cyber technologies are changing warfare, infrastructure vulnerability, what he calls “strategic crime,” and political disruption. Although he emphasizes military strategy, his well-written and relatively small book, accessible to general readers, will be useful to diplomats who need to learn the “language” of cyber issues, frame them in public discourse, and participate in discussions leading to cyber arms control agreements.
Marta Churella, Wren Elhai, Amirah Ismail, Naima Green-Riley, Graham Lampa, Molly Moran, Jeff Ridenour, Dan Spokojny, and Megan Tetrick, “Upgrading US public diplomacy: A new approach for the age of memes and disinformation,” Atlantic Council, September 15, 2021. The authors of this excellent report, published in collaboration with the think tank fp21, are current and former State Department practitioners. They begin with three assumptions. New global threats and challenges are creating confusion about public diplomacy’s mission. Public diplomacy is a vital capability spread too thin. Doing better means listening more to practitioners in the field. Their recommendations, general and specific, traditional and innovative, divide into four categories. (1) Appoint and empower leadership that sets a clear strategic direction, leads on diversity and inclusion, and matches resources to priorities. (2) Build campaign design and evaluation capacity based on evidence-based learning, digital analytics, ready-made audience listening tools, and incentivized honest reporting when programs fall short of objectives. (3) Enhance capacity of overseas staffs through upgrades for American Spaces, programs for exchanges alumni, and spokespeople with foreign language and on-camera media skills. (4) Build public diplomacy’s domestic dimension through increased outreach, virtual programs, and expanded university partnerships. A report that conflates US public diplomacy with State’s public diplomacy, however, raises a central question. Today’s foreign ministries are important, but they are far from the only actors in whole of government diplomacy. Strong recommendations about what the State Department can do and do better are well taken, but its diplomats must do more to convene and connect – and leverage to diplomatic advantage what others (in government agencies, cities, civil society, and corporations) often can do better.
The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, University of Leiden, Website. HJD, one of the world’s leading research journals in diplomacy studies, is well known to readers of this list. Founded in 2005 by its editor-in-chief Jan Melissen (University of Leiden) and long-time former co-editor Paul Sharp (University of Minnesota Duluth), its easily navigated website, hosted at the University of Leiden, offers a number of useful informational and bibliographic resources. Particularly helpful are its “Diplomacy Reading Lists,” which are categorized by topics. Other resources include a Blog Archive, Book Reviews, The Hague Diplomacy Podcasts, and Diplomatic Studies Book Series. All have source links.
H.R. 1253, “Public Diplomacy Modernization Act of 2021,” Referred to the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs, February 23, 2021. H.R. 1253, co-sponsored by Rep. Dan Meuser (D-PA) and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), would streamline State’s public diplomacy capabilities, reduce duplicative functions, improve research and evaluation of programs, enhance planning for public diplomacy’s physical presence abroad, and restore permanent statutory authority for the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy (ACPD). Specific proposals include: a mandate to appoint a director of research and evaluation in the Office of Policy, Planning, and Resources for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs; an exemption of State’s audience research, monitoring, and evaluation from the “Paperwork Reduction Act;” a mandate for the ACPD to establish a Subcommittee on Research and Evaluation; and a mandate to require guidelines in the Foreign Affairs Manual on notifications and impact assessments relating to closure of American Spaces and other public diplomacy facilities.
Dan Lips, “A New Strategy for Public Diplomacy: Using Virtual Education and Incentives to Promote Understanding of American Values,” Lincoln Network, June 2, 2021. Lips, Director of Cyber and National Security Policy at the Lincoln Network, profiles in broad brush strokes US public diplomacy’s history since the early Cold War, outlines current challenges, and offers recommendations for using digital technologies to promote American values. They include: (1) use digital learning and incentives, such as prioritization or reduced fees for student visas, to encourage students to learn about the US and democracy; (2) leverage USAID’s international education programs to incorporate digital instruction to promote US values; (3) encourage the National Endowment for Democracy and its grantees to use digital learning and incentives to promote learning about the US and democracy; and (4) pass legislation to require the NSC or the State Department to prepare a national strategy for virtual education programs. Lip concludes by raising and answering anticipated criticism of his proposals.
Jessica T. Mathews, “American Power After Afghanistan: How to Rightsize the Country’s Global Role,”September 17, 2021, Foreign Affairs. Mathews (Carnegie Endowment) looks at America’s over reliance on military power and lack of confidence in diplomacy in the decades after the Cold War. She begins with a brief assessment of the Afghanistan exit, which “matched past experience.” Policymakers treat the history, culture, and values of countries in which the US intervenes as context rather than critical factors in failure or success. What happened in Afghanistan was not due to lack of good intelligence; it was a failure to use good intelligence. The US cannot rely on the military to achieve a mission that is unachievable. She then points to a different approach. First, take a hard look at American exceptionalism. The “power of our example” today is a dubious claim. Second, reconsider the practice of refusal to recognize or engage in diplomacy with adversaries, precisely where diplomacy is needed most. Third, end overreliance on sanctions. Fourth, recognize that US policies, spending, and rhetoric foster belief that the only meaningful engagement is military commitment. Fifth, address the grotesque gap between the military budget and spending on diplomacy and other foreign operations. Finally, rethink democracy promotion and the belief that the US is under generalized attack from authoritarianism. It overlooks the extent to which both democracies and authoritarian states must address climate change, global health, cybercrime, financial stability, and other problems.
Michael McFaul, “The Biden Administration Needs to Up Its Game on Public Diplomacy,” October 11, 2021, The Washington Post. Stanford University professor and former US Ambassador to Russia McFaul summarizes his public diplomacy reform agenda published in several articles earlier this year. His central argument: President Biden and his team need to “take public diplomacy and global communications far more seriously.” He proposes the following. (1) Nominate an undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs and a new chief executive for the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM). (2) Radically restructure and upgrade USAGM’s funding. (3) Make all USAGM broadcasting entities independent of the executive branch with Congressional funding and oversight from nonpartisan boards. (4) Make the Open Technology Fund an independent organization. (5) Pledge massive resources to the Independent Fund for Public Interest Media at the Summit for Democracy in December. (6) Put the parts of VOA that broadcast news into counterpart and independent regional organizations; reform the rest of VOA to more effectively explain US foreign policy. (7) Reconstitute a more nimble and flexible US Information Agency. (8) Elevate public diplomacy within the State Department. (9) Massively increase funding for educational and cultural exchanges.
“Modernizing the State Department for the 21st Century,” Subcommittee Hearing, US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, July 20, 2021. In this hearing, chaired by Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), three expert witnesses presented testimony and discussed State Department reform proposals. Former Deputy Secretary of State Stephen E. Biegun called for a zero-based review of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 and every element of the Department, and for Congress to form a bipartisan commission to review every aspect of US diplomacy. Former Ambassador to Bulgaria and Albania Marcie B. Ries summarized key findings of the Harvard Kennedy School’s report, “A US Diplomatic Service for the 21st Century.” New America CEO Anne-Marie Slaughter updated her proposal to overhaul the Foreign Service and create a new “Global Service” in which “official representatives,” in addition to diplomats, would provide expertise in business, technology, climate, cities, education, science, sports, arts, and religion for multi-stakeholder diplomacy. She called on Congress to create a “Goldwater-Nichols model” commission to study her proposal and then legislate change. Copies of their statements can be downloaded at the links.
Ronald E. Neumann, “Intervention: Unlearned Lessons, or the Gripes of a Professional,” Foreign Service Journal, September 2021, 39-42. Ambassador Neumann continues to combine a distinguished diplomatic career with perceptive insights into what needs to change in US diplomacy. Here he offers four lessons for how diplomats staff interventions in civil-military operations. (1) A 70-year pattern of short tour lengths and unwillingness to use failure as a basis for learning. (2) Inability to understand whether problems lie in the policy or its implementation. (3) Intellectual arrogance in policy formulation and disregard for ground reality. (4) The State Department’s (and Congress’s) failure to create the means to surge staffs in stability operations. (A quick check shows at least seven reports on US diplomacy reform in the past two decades, four in the past two years, have urged creation of a diplomacy reserve corps and diplomacy “go teams.”) The logistics, funding, and mental shifts required for these changes are hard. But future complex contingencies operations – that will be driven by climate change, pandemics, disasters, migration, and military interventions – require acting now on Neumann’s lessons.
Laura Portwood-Stacer, The Book Proposal: A Guide for Scholarly Authors, (Princeton University Press, 2021). Younger scholars looking to publish will find this book indispensible. Published scholars will also find much good advice in this guide by Portwood-Stacer, developmental editor, founder of Manuscript Works consultancy, and former professor of media and cultural studies at NYU and USC. Her book is a clear and concise guide to a range of topics: selection of appropriate publishers, audience identification, drafting a book proposal package, stating a thesis or core idea that drives the book, distilling a one paragraph summary to one or two strong sentences, writing an effective overview and chapter summaries, the importance of titles and a strong voice, and navigating the submission, peer review, contract, production, and promotion processes.
Paul Sharp, “Domestic Public Diplomacy, Domestic Diplomacy, and Domestic Foreign Policy,” in Gunther Hellman, Andreas Fahrmeir, and Milo Vec, eds., The Transformation of Foreign Policy: Drawing and Managing Boundaries from Antiquity to the Present, Oxford Scholarship Online, August 2016. Sharp (University of Minnesota Duluth) performs a considerable and increasingly relevant service in this analysis of boundaries and constitutive elements in his chapter title’s three terms. Why examine these terms, he asks? First, each term challenges conventional inside and outside distinctions. Second, they “might” signal a transformation in foreign policy and international relations. Third, does the modifier “domestic” alter the traditional distinction between foreign policy as boundary-making and marking, and diplomacy as a boundary spanning practice? In his clear and logically argued chapter, he first discusses the concept and practices entailed in domestic public diplomacy. Then he examines its implications for the evolving ideas of domestic diplomacy and domestic foreign policy. He is cautious in reaching conclusions about whether we are in a transformational moment. The chapter concludes with a nuanced assessment of each term’s value. His overall argument, drawing on numerous examples, bestows greater analytical advantage on the idea of “domestic diplomacy” than, for different reasons, “domestic public diplomacy” and “domestic foreign policy.” Scholars and practitioners will benefit from close consideration of his thinking.
Dina Smeltz, et al., “A Foreign Policy for the Middle Class – What Americans Think,” The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, October 2021. This new study by Smeltz and her colleagues provides data to support the claim that most Americans now find what happens at home matters more for the country’s international influence than what it does abroad. The report’s key takeaway: “Majorities of Americans consider improving public education (73%), strengthening democracy at home (70%), and reducing both racial (53%) and economic (50%) inequality as very important to maintaining America’s global influence. Similarly, Americans are more concerned about threats within the United States (81%) than threats outside the country (19%).” In other findings, 58% say trade with China does more to weaken national security (up from 33% in 2019), 68% view globalization as mostly good, and 64% want the US to lead in addressing such global challenges as climate change and COVID-19.
US Department of State, “Enterprise Data Strategy: Empowering Data Informed Diplomacy,” September 2021. The goal of State’s first data strategy is to empower “its world-class global workforce” with the “skills and tools to derive actionable mission insights from data,” secure and effectively manage data assets, and equip the Department to “lead America’s foreign policy in the 21st century.” The report frames four goals: cultivate a data culture, accelerate decisions through analytics, establish mission-driven data management, and enhance data governance. It discusses supporting objectives and a set of guiding principles. The well-intended strategy is full of generalities. It offers a broad orientation to an “evolving global landscape” and the essential need to make data a critical instrument of diplomacy. It falls short, however, in several respects. First, strategies involve real choices (cost/benefit tradeoffs) in a roadmap for moving realistically to the next stage, not just statements of goals and a desired end state. Second, it could have made clear that qualitative analysis and judgments also are essential in diplomacy. Third, it could usefully have provided examples of what data-informed diplomacy means operationally for specific diplomacy functions, e.g., knowledge management, consular affairs, public diplomacy, understanding cultures, diplomatic security. See also Dan Spokojny, “State’s New Data Strategy: A (potentially) historic step,” fp21, September 2021. His constructive critique points to other limitations of the strategy, such as the potential for turf battles within State over access to information and treatment of data as a “product rather than central to the policy process.”
Craig Whitlock, The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War, (Simon & Schuster, 2021). New York Times journalist Whitlock’s investigative reporting joins Carter Malkasian’s The American War in Afghanistan: A History as a foundational early account of the war’s two decades. Whitlock’s book – based on Office of the Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction interviews, GWU’s National Security Archives, oral histories, and other documents – seeks to explain what went wrong and how the administrations of three presidents and their military commanders failed to tell the truth. Underappreciated is the extent to which Whitlock’s research also highlights verbatim insights and critiques of US diplomats: Ambassadors Ryan Crocker, Karl Eikenberry, Robert Finn, Marc Grossman, Richard Holbrooke, Ronald Neumann, and Zalmay Khalilzad; diplomats Lakhdar Brahimi, Richard Boucher, James Dobbins, Todd Greentree, Michael Metrinko, and Richard Norland; journalists Sarah Chayes and Carol Leonig; and numerous civilian advisors. Whitlock provides an abundance of lessons taught, if not necessarily learned. Not least, James Dobbins’ observation that “There was a continuous tension in both our messaging and our actual behavior.”
Recent Blogs and Other Items of Interest
Joseph Bernstein, “Bad News: Selling the Story of Disinformation,” September 2021, Harper’s Magazine.
Munqith Dagher, “Middle East Public Opinion on the American Dream after Afghanistan,” August 23, 2021, Gallup International.
Departments of State and Education, “A Renewed U.S. Commitment to International Education,” Joint Statement of Principles, July 2021.
Patricia Goff, “Featured Review | Museum Diplomacy in the Digital Age,” by Natalia Grincheva, October 14, 2021, The Hague Journal of Diplomacy.
George Hovey, “Why Some of America’s Diplomats Want to Quit,” September 3, 2021, War on the Rocks.
Loren Hurst, “Virtual Programming is a Key Tool in Cultivating Your Public Diplomacy Garden,” September 11, 2021, Public Diplomacy Council.
Joe Johnson, “Public Diplomacy’s Leading Edge – Field Operations,” September 7, 2021,Public Diplomacy Council.
Joshua D. Kertzer, “American Credibility After Afghanistan,” September 2, 2021, Foreign Affairs.
Olga Krasnyak, “Jack F. Matlock and American Diplomacy with Russia,” August 2021, American Diplomacy,
Daniel Lippman, “Journalists Sue U.S. Broadcasting Arm for Wrongful Dismissal Under Trump,” October 4, 2021, Politico.
Carter Malkasian, “Why Didn’t We Leave Afghanistan Before Now? A Fear That Presidents Could Not Ignore.”September 19, 2021, Time Magazine.
Josh Rogin, “The U.S. Government Left Its Own Journalists Behind In Afghanistan,” August 31, 2021, The Washington Post; Esha Sarai, “Congressman Slams Failure to Evacuate USAGM Journalists From Afghanistan,” August 31, 2021, VOA News.
Theresa Sabonis-Helf, “The Paris Accord: An Experiment in Polylateralism,” October 2021, The Foreign Service Journal.
Louis Savoia, “State Department Recruiters Aim to Expand Foreign Service,” October 3, 2021, WIDA.
Ben Smith, “How the U.S. Helped, and Hampered, the Escape of Afghan Journalists,” September 19, 2021, The New York Times.
Tara D. Sonenshine, “Can the United States Be Trusted Anymore?” August 31, 2021, The Hill.
Richard Stengel, “Two of America’s Leading Historians Look at the Nation’s Founding Once Again – To Understand It in All Its Complexity,” September 21, 2021, The New York Times.
Cameron Thomas-Shah, “How Embracing Rights Movements Enhances Public Diplomacy and Advances U.S. Foreign Policy,” August 26, 2021, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.
Natalie Thompson and Laura Bate, “The Right Way to Structure Cyber Diplomacy,” August 25, 2021, War on the Rocks.
Lera Toropin and Jennifer Soler, “Assessing the Playing Field for a Boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics,”August 12, 2021, American Security Project.
Jay Wang, “Why Dubai World Expo Matters,” September 29, 2021, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.
Gem From The Past
Ellen Huijh, ed., “The Domestic Dimension of Public Diplomacy.” The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, Vol. 7, No. 4, 2012. Today, public diplomacy’s domestic dimension is a hot topic, the subject of Zoom workshops, blogs, articles, and books. A decade before it was fashionable, Ellen Huijgh, then at the University of Antwerp and the Netherlands Institute of International Relations, Clingendael, compiled a pioneering collection of essays in a special edition of HJD. Her prescient central claim: “Domestic constituencies have not been traditionally seen as part of the (public) diplomacy picture. In an increasingly mobile, virtually connected and interdependent world, however, this is no longer sustainable.”
The scholarly articles she compiled framed important concepts and raised research questions that remain relevant. In addition to her lead essay, “Public Diplomacy in Flux: Introducing the Domestic Dimension,” they include:
— Steven Curtis and Caroline Jaine (London Metropolitan University), “Public Diplomacy in the UK: Engaging Diasporas and Preventing Terrorism,”
— Ellen Huijgh and Caitlin Byrne (Griffith Institute), “Opening the Windows on Diplomacy: A Comparison of The Domestic Dimension of Public Diplomacy in Canada and Australia,”
— Kathy R. Fitzpatrick (University of South Florida), “Defining Strategic Publics in a Networked World: Public Diplomacy’s Challenge at Home and Abroad,” and
— Teresa La Porte (University of Navarra), “The Impact of ‘Intermestic’ Non-State Actors on the Conceptual Framework of Public Diplomacy.”
Ellen left us way too soon. Two years ago, Jan Melissen (Leiden University) took the lead in compiling a comprehensive collection of her work, which was published posthumously in her name. Ellen Huigh, Public Diplomacy at Home: Domestic Dimensions, Brill | Nijhoff, 2019. Her book and her HJD special edition are essential to ongoing scholarship on diplomacy’s domestic dimension.
An archive of Diplomacy’s Public Dimension: Books, Articles, Websites (2002-present) is maintained at George Washington University’s Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication. Current issues are also posted by the University of Southern California’s Center on Public Diplomacy, the Public Diplomacy Council, and MountainRunner.us.