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.
June 10, 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.
Amanda Bennett, Nicholas Cull, and Richard A. Stengel, “What Should the US Do to Protect Global Media Freedoms?” 2021 Walter Roberts Annual Lecture, Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication, George Washington University, April 8, 2021. This year’s Roberts lecture took the form of a conversation with former VOA director Bennett, USC professor Cull, and former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Stengel. The lively discussion, followed by audience questions, was moderated by David Ensor, also a former VOA director and now head of the Project for Media and National Security at GWU’s School of Media and Public Affairs. Panelists addressed a range of issues relating to protecting global media freedoms and the role of US international broadcasting services in meeting the challenge. The virtual program can be viewed at the linked video (90 minutes).
Donald M. Bishop, “Propagandized Adversary Populations in a War of Ideas,” Journal of Advanced Military Studies, Vol. 12, No. 1, Spring 2021, 128-148. Bishop (Marine Corps University) draws on lessons from the propaganda of Axis powers and the Soviet Union in the 20th century’s hot and cold wars to inform US strategy intended to counter propaganda’s effects today. He examines two propositions about the past. (1) Both World Wars were longer and more brutal due to prewar and wartime mobilization of combatant nation populations. (2) A major limitation of propagandizing one’s citizens is that leaders become “locked in by their propaganda.” He argues there are parallels today. Social media is new; the basic patterns of propaganda are the same. He supports his claim with case studies of Russia, China, and North Korea. The US national security community and military commands, Bishop concludes, should focus more on “informational factors,” propagandized adversary populations, operationally useful knowledge about nations of concern, and whole of government and whole of society strategies.
John Dickson, History Shock: When History Collides with Foreign Relations, (University Press of Kansas, 2021). The phrase “must read” is rarely used on this list. Retired Foreign Service Officer John Dickson’s superbly written narrative of insights gained during press and cultural assignments in North and South America, Africa, and the Caribbean is a masterpiece. “History shock” is the surprise that occurs when confronting competing and differently constructed understandings of shared history. Dickson’s stories are much more than descriptions of a career diplomat’s life abroad. They are examples, filled with prescriptive meaning, that demonstrate why differently imagined realities of how the US has projected power matter. His cases fall into three overlapping categories: conflicting versions of history, total ignorance of one’s own and another country’s history, and misunderstandings of different histories. Different US and Mexican memories of the 1846-1848 “War of North American Intervention.” Nigerian views of US civil rights history through the prism of Malcolm X and Black consciousness. Haitian memories of long withheld US recognition of its independence in 1804 due to issues of slavery and US occupation of Haiti from 1915 to 1934. Competing Cuban and US histories driven by domestic US politics and lack of knowledge of Cuba’s pre-1959 history. Other cases are drawn from his tours in Canada, Peru, South Africa, and Washington. Dickson concludes with a penetrating analysis of why historical illiteracy gets in the way of effective diplomacy – and suggestions for ways to improve Foreign Service recruitment, training, institutional memory, and continuity in assignments. This book is a “must read” for diplomats at all levels, Foreign Service change agents, practice theory scholars, and anyone interested in America’s future role in the world. (Recommended by Larry Schwartz)
John Fer, “How the 1619 Project Can Help Public Diplomacy,” The Foreign Service Journal, May 2021.Career Foreign Service Officer John Fer examines the debate surrounding The New York Times’ 1619 project on American slavery and ways today’s national reckoning on racial justice issues can and should be treated in US public diplomacy. He weaves into his assessment related questions on media integrity, freedom of speech, and the press. Missing in this otherwise excellent article is mention of the public diplomacy implications of another reckoning: the dispossession of Native Americans driven by national policy and the politics and economics of White supremacy.
Emily O. Goldman, “Cyber Diplomacy for Strategic Competition,” The Foreign Service Journal, June 2021. Goldman (US Cyber Command) defines cyber diplomacy as the use of diplomatic tools to address security, economic, and human rights issues arising in and through cyberspace. She argues US cyber diplomacy needs new thinking and better performance. Two recommendations lead her change agenda. First, the State Department needs more than reactive advocacy of “cyber deterrence;” its future strategy requires a “competitive mindset” and mobilization of partners to preemptively contest adversary cyber misbehavior. Second, the US is not positioned to construct cyber norms through political discussions alone; it must engage in “norm-construction competition.” She also endorses a strongly integrated organizational focal point for cyber issues in the Department. Ryan Dukeman at the fp21 network shares Goldman’s concerns about State’s inadequate approach to cyber diplomacy issues, but suggests she undervalues the efforts of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues and the proposed Bureau for Cybersecurity and Emerging Technology.
Jennifer Hubbert, “Scaling Paradiplomacy: An Anthropological Examination of City-to-City Relations,”CPD Perspectives, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, December 2020. Hubbert (Lewis & Clark College) contributes to the growing field of subnational diplomacy in this exploration of cities as diplomatic actors. By paradiplomacy, she means “parallel diplomacy,” a term used in the context of city-to-city engagements. She argues that anthropology is well-suited to illuminate a research area largely influenced by urban studies, international relations, political science, and public diplomacy. Her objectives are (1) to assess relations between paradiplomatic actors who represent cities to broader institutions, practices, and structures of power, and (2) to think broadly about paradiplomatic actors other than elected and appointed city officials. Her paper is drawn from two years of research on Portland, Oregon’s engagement on sustainability and economic development issues with cities in China and Japan. Hubbert used interviews and anthropological methods of immersion and participant observation to explore paradiplomatic practices in sister city board meetings, ceremonial events, Chinese museums, urban development agency meetings, cultural exchange presentations at universities, entrepreneur meet and greets, trade missions, foreign affairs offices in China, and other forums. As with most research on multilevel diplomatic actors, the challenge is to distinguish between diplomacy that serves the public interest, public-private partnerships, and cross-border connections that serve private interests.
Louis Menand, The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War, (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2021). Menand (Harvard University, New Yorker staff writer, and author of The Metaphysical Club) has written a towering (850 pages) history of the personalities, art, and ideas that dominated cultural change in the United States and Europe during the first two decades of the Cold War. This is a book to pick up, learn from a riveting few pages, put down, and repeat. Writers: Lionel Trilling, Hannah Arendt, George Orwell, Jack Kerouac, Susan Sontag, Simone de Beauvoir. Artists: Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol. Poets: Alan Ginsberg, Ezra Pound. Dancers: Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham. Philosophers: Isaiah Berlin, Jean-Paul Sartre, Martin Heidegger, John Dewey. Music: John Cage, the Beatles, Elvis Presley. And many more. This is not a book about the cultural Cold War, although there are interesting cameos on USIA, the CIA’s Congress for Cultural Freedom, the Venice Biennale, and the Family of Man exhibit. Menand writes with flair – the coterminous Cold War and decolonization are “the duck or rabbit of postwar world history.” His goal is to tell stories on a grand scale in three dimensions. The underlying social forces that created the conditions for certain kinds of art and ideas. What was happening “on the street” when “X ran into Y, which led to Z.” And what was going on in people’s heads. A brilliant book by a captivating writer.
Jonathan McClory, lead author, Katherine Brown, and Jay Wang, contributors, “Socially Distanced Diplomacy: The Future of Soft Power and Public Diplomacy in a Fragile World,” May 2021, Sanctuary Counsel and USC Center on Public Diplomacy. In this 53-page report, McClory (Sanctuary Counsel), Brown (Global Ties US), and Wang (USC Center on Public Diplomacy) begin with two questions. What is the future of the global balance of soft power? Are public diplomacy’s traditional strategies and tactics still viable? Their report is based on seven virtual roundtable discussions with policymakers, diplomats, and researchers. It begins with a summary of trends shaping a new strategic assessment and how the COVID-19 pandemic has altered perceptions and reputations of major powers. The balance of the report, influenced by Anglo-American perspectives, offers a blueprint for the future. Its chapter on imagining a post-pandemic future for public diplomacy focuses on “the primacy of listening,” more inclusive and diverse target audiences, strengthened public-private partnerships, a hybrid approach to digital and in-person public diplomacy, and a strategy that builds alliances, treats soft power as both reputational and national security, and increases funding for public diplomacy accordingly.
Sarah E. Mendelson, “New Thinking on Democracy at Home and Abroad,” American Ambassadors Live! April 2021. Mendelson (Carnegie Mellon University) draws on her work as a scholar and democratization practitioner at the UN and USAID in this assessment of the “why” and “how” of the Biden administration’s commitment to a Summit for Democracy. She calls for a zero based “interagency review of US methods, modalities, and budgets supporting democracy and human rights” – and offers suggestions for new approaches to advancing democracy at home and abroad.
National Intelligence Council, Global Trends 2040: A More Contested World, March 2021. Every four years, the NIC publishes its assessment of key trends and uncertainties in the strategic environment for the next two decades. Intended primarily for policymakers, it is also an excellent first day in class reading for students in diplomacy and IR courses. The report is organized in three sections. First, it examines “structural forces” in demographics, the environment, economics, and technology. Second, it assesses “emerging dynamics” in three categories: individuals and society, states, and the international system. Third, it identifies key uncertainties used to frame five “future scenarios” for 2040. The 144-page report, accessible online, is clearly written, well organized, filled with data and graphics, and intended to prompt thought and discussion. Particularly interesting for diplomacy scholars and practitioners are sections on power shifts, more actors asserting agency, the growing influence of influential nonstate actors, growth in global digital connectivity, immersive information technology, widely accessible digital marketing techniques, the Internet of Things, and intense “AI-powered propaganda.”
Pew Research Center, “America’s Image Abroad Rebounds With Transition from Trump to Biden,”June 10, 2021. Richard Wike and his team at Pew find a significant rise in ratings among America’s allies and partners for President Biden and several of his policies – coupled with concerns about the health of the US political system. On the upside: US favorability is up significantly, the US gets more positive marks for handling COVID-19, views of European allies are now at Obama-era levels, and Biden gets much higher ratings than Trump. On the down side: the US is no longer seen as a role model democracy, overall the US is still viewed as not handling COVID-19 well, younger adults are more likely to think democracy in the US has never been a good example, and few think the US considers their interests when making foreign policy decisions.
Saskia Postema and Jan Melissen, “UN Celebrity Diplomacy in China: Activism, Symbolism, and National Ambition Online,” International Affairs, Volume 97, Issue 3, May 2021, 667-684. China is now the second largest UN contributor and leads four of its 15 specialized agencies. In this context, Postema and Melissen (Leiden University and Clingendael) explore how Chinese celebrities, active on the social media platform Sina Weibo, support both China’s engagement in the United Nations and the UN’s efforts to gain increased visibility and influence in China. Their article, based on quantitative and qualitative research, makes several claims. Western literature on “celebrity diplomacy” focuses on celebrity politics and neglects multilayered diplomacy and the digital domain. Because China limits its citizens’ freedom of discussion on global issues, the presence of the UN sponsored celebrities on Weibo is largely symbolic. A causal relationship may exist between a Hong Kong identity and celebrity inactivity as a UN ambassador on Weibo. The UN needs to analyze the translation and adaptation of the messages in China of the celebrities it sponsors. Their findings support arguments “for more and better research on celebrity diplomacy” and for public diplomacy studies to focus more on the domestic domains of national diplomatic actors and on what happens to messages and narratives in receiving countries. The complete article is available online. See also “Is UN Celebrity Diplomacy in China Still Effective?”, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.
“Subversive & Malicious Information,” Public Diplomacy Magazine, Issue 24, Spring 2021. Public Diplomacy Magazine is an online publication of the student-run Society of Public Diplomats at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism in collaboration with the Center on Public Diplomacy. It is a forum for graduate students, practitioners, and scholars in the US and worldwide to publish short form content that addresses cutting edge trends and issues in diplomacy’s public dimension. Articles in this issue discuss misperceptions about disinformation, Iran’s invisible “soft war,” the re-branding of Confucius Institutes, China’s digital public diplomacy strategy, Russian disinformation, misinformation in Myanmar, a “rickety and ineffective” Smith-Mundt Act, responding to COVID-19 misinformation, and much more.
“Truth, Dissent, and the Legacy of Daniel Ellsberg,” Conference Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Pentagon Papers Release, University of Massachusetts Amherst and The Ground Truth Project, April 20 & May 1, 2021. In a digital age when policymakers and diplomats struggle with the practical meaning of truth erosion and pervasive disinformation, the Pentagon Papers and lies of US administrations about the Vietnam War for most are a distant memory. At this two-day conference, historians, journalists, whistleblowers, and former officials gathered to discuss the relevance of the Pentagon Papers, Ellsberg’s dissent, and lessons from recent research on the voluminous Ellsberg papers archived at UMass Amherst. Complete proceedings of the two-day conference are available online. (Recommended by Rudy Nelson)
Qingmin Zhang, Paul Sharp, and Jan Melissen, eds., “Special Issue: China’s Global Diplomacy,” The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, Vol. 16, Issue 2-3, March 2021. In this timely double issue of HJD, Zhang (Peking University), Sharp (University of Minnesota Duluth), and Melissen (Leiden University and HJD’s Editor-in-Chief) have compiled penetrating research articles, forum contributions, and book reviews by leading scholars on China’s changing diplomacy practices. Topics include China’s diplomacy as a new power in the 1950s and 1960s, its evolving encounters today with the diplomatic norms of Southeast Asian nations, its response to growing demands by Chinese citizens for consular protections, the role of cities in China’s diplomacy, and how China’s public diplomacy is changing. The articles were written by Chinese and non-Chinese contributors. The editors point to implications of their different perspectives and to a shortage of needed theoretical research on China by diplomacy scholars. This special issue demonstrates that HJD, long the gold standard in practitioner-oriented diplomacy scholarship, remains the “go to” journal in the field. Happily, too, the paywall for all of the articles is unlocked at least for now.
Recent Blogs and Other Items of Interest
Sohaela Amiri, “Toward City Diplomacy 2.0,” April 8, 2021, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.
Matt Armstrong, “W(h)ither R: A Marquee Failure of Leadership in Foreign Policy,” June 8, 2021, MountainRunner.us.
Rebecca Beitsch, “In Departure from Trump, State Affirms Editorial Freedom of Voice of America,” April 6, 2021, The Hill.
Brett Bruen and Adam Ereli, “How Many ‘Special Envoys’ Does Joe Biden Need?” May 16, 2021, Politico.
Nick Cull and Simon Anholt, “People Places and Power: The Podcast.”
Karen DeYoung, “Samantha Power Wants To Restore U.S. Prestige By Getting American-made Vaccines ‘Into Arms’ Around the World,” May 11, 2021, The Washington Post.
Paul Farhi, “When Plagiarism Was Reported to Voice of America, Managers Delayed Action for Months,” May 27, 2021, The Washington Post.
Sarah Forland, “Reviving Global Democracy: Public Diplomacy in the Post Covid-World,” April 29, 2021; Sarah Forland and Savarni Sanka, “Radio Marti: Long Overdue for a Tune-up,” April 14, 2021, American Security Project.
Alexander Gabuev and Leonid Kovachich, “Comrades in Tweets? The Contours and Limits of China-Russia Cooperation on Digital Propaganda,” June 3, 2021, Carnegie Moscow Center.
Robbie Gramer, “Are Special Envoys All That Special Anymore?” June 1, 2021, Foreign Policy.
John Maxwell Hamilton discusses his book Manipulating the Masses: Woodrow Wilson and the Birth of American Propaganda, May 3, 2021, First Monday Forum (60-minute video), Public Diplomacy Council.
Nikki Hinshaw, “Re-Constructing Democratic Narratives to Foster Pro-Israel Support in the U.S.” April 1, 2021, Smart Power Blog, GWU Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication.
Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, “Case Studies: Preparing to Teach a Case,” May 2021, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University.
Eric Johnson, “Biden’s State Department Needs an Office to Help Local Governments,” May 5, 2021, The Hill.
Bryce Johnston and Margaret McLeod, “Is Mutual Understanding Through Exchange Still Possible?” May 6, 2021, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.
Kathy Kiely, “Dictators Crush Dissent. Then They Hire Firms To Clean Up Their Images,” May 7, 2021, The Washington Post.
Kayla Malcy, “The Kashmir Standstill and Conflicting Identity Narratives,” April 12, 2021, Smart Power Blog, GWU Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication.
Deena Mansour, “In-Person Exchanges, Interrupted,” April 2021, The Foreign Service Journal.
“Iver Neumann Explains Diplomacy,” November 9, 2020, YouTube video (6 minutes), International Association for Political Science Students.
Office of the Inspector General, “Review of the Public Diplomacy Staffing Initiative,” April 2021, US Department of State.
Saiansha Panangipalli, “From ‘Regional Bully’ to ‘Benign Hegemon,’” April 5, 2021, Smart Power Blog, GWU Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication.
Charles Ray, “Why Defense Gets 12 Times More Money Than Diplomacy,” April 21, 2021, Diplomatic Diary.
Roxanne Roberts, “Ambassador Rufus Gifford Is the Reality Star Who Will Try to Fix America’s Image Abroad,” May 29, 2021, The Washington Post.
“Russia’s Attack on U.S. Media Has Become a Test Case,” May 21, 2021, The Washington Post.
John Ruwitch, “50 Years Later, The Legacy of U.S.-China ‘Pingpong Diplomacy’ Faces Challenges,” April10, 2021, NPR.
Noah Smith, “U.S. State Department Announces New Video Game Diplomacy Program,” April 7, 2021, The Washington Post.
Adam Taylor, “Xi’s Call for a ‘Lovable’ China May Not Tame the Wolf Warriors,” June 3, 2021, The Washington Post; Shirley Martey Hargis, “Xi Defangs the ‘Wolf Warrior,’” June 3, 2021, Politico.
“Thanks to the Pandemic, Diplomats Have a Bigger, Better Toolkit,” May 1, 2021, The Economist.
Mary Thompson-Jones, “Is Diplomacy Back? Making the Case to the American People,” May 2021, American Diplomacy.
Eriks Varpahovskis, “Is the Country Image Impact of the Tokyo Olympics Pre-determined?” June 3, 2021, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.
Doug Wilson, Mike McFaul, and Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, “The Need for More Chris Stevenses: A Memorial Lecture at UC Hastings Law,” 7th annual Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens Lecture, April 14, 2021, Just Security.
Gem From The Past