Photograph of Herb Romerstein

Remembering Herb Romerstein

As the subject of Russian disinformation comes increasingly to the fore, it is worth remembering Herb Romerstein, who headed the U.S. Information Agency’s Office to Counter Soviet Disinformation and Active Measures from 1983 to 1989 and was the foremost American expert on this important subject. Herb, who died in 2013, had been a “kid communist”…

Folded newspaper section "China Watch"

Sharp Power Focus on China

Dr. Michael Schneider, the director of Syracuse University’s D.C. Public Diplomacy program, calls our attention to an update on the topic of China’s “sharp power” thrust. The Journal of Democracy carries a set of eight articles on “China in Xi’s new era” examining the country’s internal changes in the wake of the 19th Party Congress, its expanding global ambitions, and its…

Soft Power and Hard Targets

Occasionally I co-lead a strategy workshop for State Department practitioners of public diplomacy.  Each participant brings a topic and develops it into a public diplomacy campaign over five days; it’s learning by doing. The hardest thing for our students – both Foreign Service Officers and locally-hired staffers – is to define a clear objective and…

Photographers and “propaganda,” friends and enemies

Today’s Public Diplomacy practitioners work in a loud, visually saturated, media-intense age when “post-truth,” “many truths,” and “alternative facts” are themes of academic, social, and political debate.  They work in many different cultures at a time when the claims of identity, rather than universality and common humanity, gain sway.   Issue 47 (2017) of Foam:…