The United States and Public Diplomacy
edited Kenneth A. Osgood, Brian C. Etheridge (Diplomatic Studies: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers) Public diplomacy is the art of cultivating public opinion to
achieve foreign policy objectives. A vital tool in contemporary
statecraft, public diplomacy is also one of the most poorly
understood elements of a nation’s “soft power.”
The United States and Public Diplomacy adds historical perspective to the ongoing global conversation about public diplomacy and its proper role in foreign affairs. It highlights the fact that the United States has not only been an important sponsor of public diplomacy, it also has been a frequent target of public diplomacy initiatives sponsored by others. Many of the essays in this collection look beyond Washington to explore the ways in which foreign states, non-governmental organizations, and private citizens have used public diplomacy to influence the government and people of the United States.
Excerpt: When Osama bin Laden orchestrated the terrorist attacks of September i i, 2001, he unwittingly sparked a new public diplomacy revolution. A month after the 9 / i i attacks, the veteran U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke penned an editorial in the Washington Post raising questions that were puzzling many observers that fall. "How could a mass murderer who publicly praised the terrorists of Sept. 11 be winning the hearts and minds of anyone? How can a man in a cave outcommunicate the world's leading communication society?" Astounded by the appeal of bin Laden's message in the Muslim world, Holbrooke was but one of many who called for a global public information campaign to combat Muslim extremism and anti-Americanism. "Call it public diplomacy, or public affairs, or psychological warfare, or—if you really want to be blunt—propaganda," he wrote. "The battle of ideas ... is as important as any other aspect of the struggle we are now engaged in. It must be won."'
Ensuing events did not inspire hope for American success in the battle for hearts and minds. In the months and years that followed, as the George W. Bush administration launched the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, foreign perceptions of the United States plummeted to unprecedented lows. An astounding series of public opinion surveys in dozens of countries conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project charted the decline. "Anti-Americanism is deeper and broader now than at any time in modern history:' the project reported in 2005. In the Muslim world, hostility to the United States reached epic proportions, but suspicion of American intentions permeated public sentiment around the globe, even among traditional U.S. allies. Throughout Europe, people said they viewed the United States as one of the greatest threats to world peace. This was true even in Great Britain, America's closest ally, where more than half of those surveyed identified the United States as a danger to peace.2 Faced with such stark realities, American observers from across the political spectrum reached the same grim conclusion: The United States, despite being home to a communications industry many billions of dollars strong, had failed to "sell" its purpose and promise to audiences abroad.
To some, the solution was better policies. To others, better propaganda. In Washington, foreign policy circles buzzed with conversations about public diplomacy. The Bush administration responded by revamping the global communication apparatus of the U.S. government, which had atrophied following the end of the Cold War. This effort proceeded in fits and starts and was marred by many missteps. When the administration released its National Strategy for Combating Terrorism in 2006, it identified winning hearts and minds as a central goal of U.S. policy. "Our strategy also recognizes that the War on Terror is a different kind of war," the strategy paper announced. "From the beginning, it has been both a battle of arms and a battle of ideas. ... In the long run, winning the War on Terror means winning the battle of ideas."' As the strategy statement suggested, the Bush administration had come to accept public diplomacy as an integral part of its campaign against terrorism. So much so, in fact, that one State Department official heralded a "new age of public diplomacy," announcing in 2008 that "there is now a broad consensus in Washington that public diplomacy is essential to defeating the violent extremist threat, to promoting freedom and social justice."4 These concerns extended into the new administration of Barack Obama. Elected in 2008 on the promise of "change," Obama's early foreign policy actions consisted mostly of speeches, media appearances, and symbolic gestures to repair America's image abroad—efforts supported by a charm offensive led by Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton.
The United States was not the only country to fret about its image abroad and reconsider the value of public diplomacy at the dawn of the Twenty-First Century. One Turkish journalist, for example, asked: "Why are we unable to present Turkey in a more favorable light? Why are we unable to communicate Turkey's beauties to the world? Why are Turks absent from the field of public diplomacy? Why does the world not understand us Turks, and why does it not want to?"5 Around the world foreign policy experts asked similar questions and reassessed the ability of their governments to influence public opinion abroad. Governments of countries big and small increasingly employed public diplomacy to advance their political and economic interests. China, for example, embarked on a global public relations blitz to soften foreign perceptions of its economic power and human rights policies. It dramatically increased its foreign aid budget and sent government officials on speaking tours to drive home the message that China was a benevolent and responsible world power. China also sponsored a crash program to promote Chinese language and culture. Following the model of European cultural institutes—such as the Alliance Française, Goethe Institute, and Instituto Cervantes—the Chinese government established hundreds of Confucius Institutes worldwide. After opening its first institute in 2004, China had established 26o Confucius Institutes in 7o countries by 2008. It also announced ambitious plans for one thousand institutes by 2020.
China was hardly alone in such endeavors. The globalization of public diplomacy has become so pronounced, so integral to the conduct of international relations, that one authority on the subject perceived a "public diplomacy frenzy that has now reached all corners of the globe:" Examples abound. Indonesia and Turkey each created public diplomacy departments attached to their ministries of foreign affairs. Other countries, like Botswana, Bahrain, Uganda, and India, launched "nation-branding initiatives:' aimed at attracting foreign investment and tourism. Public diplomacy was fast becoming "big business," as many states out-sourced the job of reputation management to private public relations and lobbying firms. In 2002, for example, Saudi Arabia paid an unprecedented $ 14.6 million to a Washington-based PR firm, Qorvis, for a six-month campaign to improve American perceptions of the kingdom. While states once bristled at foreign propaganda activities that meddled in their internal affairs, recently public diplomacy has elicited little controversy. This is but one indication that public diplomacy has emerged as a routine feature of international relations. Conducted by states and private actors alike, public diplomacy has become a transnational, global phenomenon.
In part this public diplomacy revolution has stemmed from a growing appreciation of the importance of "soft power," a concept popularized by Harvard political scientist Joseph S. Nye. According to Nye, "Soft power is the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payments." "Hard power, the ability to coerce, grows out of a country's military and economic might," he wrote. "Soft power arises from the attractiveness of a country's culture, political ideals, and policies." To many observers, the Bush administration's failure to garner broad international support for the invasion of Iraq revealed the importance of soft power. Richer and stronger than any country on Earth, the United States suffered tragically for its inability to attract others to its cause—and along the way dramatized the paramount importance of soft power in an interconnected world.
Deeper structural changes in the international system also highlighted the value of public diplomacy and soft power. The globalization of media and communications networks, a competitive global marketplace, and a growing attentiveness to the power of public opinion have all served to accentuate the value of public diplomacy as a tool of foreign policy—a way of harnessing the power of ideas and culture to increase a nation's soft power. As a public diplomat for the German Ministry of Public Affairs noted: "In a global media and information society, in which billions of people world-wide witness events in real time via the electronic media, states are competing more than ever for markets, investment, tourists, value systems, and political influence:' In this environment, he continued, "Public Diplomacy has become an increasingly important tool in the 'toolbox' of foreign policy."
Diplomatic History and Public Diplomacy
If the current debate about public diplomacy has become something
of a "global conversation," it has been a strangely narrow one that
has focused inordinately on the United States. Despite the fact that
countries around the world are practicing public diplomacy in one
form or another, the American experience has dominated the analytical landscape.
more, the conversation has been taking place in something of a historical vacuum. In contrast to such subjects as arms control, conflict resolution, and the use of military force—the subjects of countless academic
studies—the historical literature on U.S. public diplomacy is remarkably
thin. More worrisome is the fact that most existing scholarship is limited
in terms of periodization and geography. Despite the growing awareness
that public diplomacy is a global phenomenon that has been practiced,
to some degree, as long as the modern international system has been
around, much of the recent work in the field has focused overwhelm-
ingly on American public diplomacy campaigns in Europe during the
Cold War. The result has been a debate about public diplomacy that is
truncated, skewed, and ultimately limited by this perspective.
To suggest that the thrust of recent scholarship has blinkered our understanding of public diplomacy, however, is not to say that the scholarship has been poor or the scholars themselves myopic. Quite the contrary. Much of the work has been outstanding and the field of public diplomacy history is thriving. Moreover, the focus on American public diplomacy in Europe during the Cold War period has been both understandable and justifiable. Broadly speaking, the writing of public diplomacy history has hewn closely to the general historiography of American foreign relations. Traditionally concerned with issues of policy and power, diplomatic history as a field turned slowly, even painfully, to issues of culture and propaganda. Scholarship seeking to legitimize culture as a category of analysis in foreign relations was freighted with baggage. Pioneers like Frank Ninkovich, Emily Rosenberg, and Michael Hunt were forced to battle what Ninkovich saw as the "traditional" view of public diplomacy and culture "as too narrow to be of much value to students of foreign policy." As foundational texts by these authors were debated in conferences and graduate student seminars over the 198os and 1990s, historians interested in public diplomacy and culture found themselves joining these authors in justifying their work in terms of its relevance to traditional American policymaking. This perceived need to frame the research agenda with respect to questions of power and policy encouraged scholars to prioritize actions at the level of the nation-state in general and the United States in particular.
That public diplomacy historiography traces its origins to evolving debates about American diplomatic history also helps explain the emphasis on both the Cold War and U.S. policymaking. Following the outbreak of the Cold War, diplomatic historians concentrated their analyses on the goals and strategies of the United States. Indeed, the most important schools of historiography, drilled into generations of graduate students, revolved around the nature of American foreign policy in the Cold War period, and the orthodox, revisionist, and post-revisionist interpretations of the same. In an effort to connect with the existing historiography, most public diplomacy historians sought to understand, in effect, the American way of promoting the American way of life.
In the 1990s, the end of the Cold War, together with the broader "cultural turn" that swept the historical profession a decade earlier, transformed the field of diplomatic history and gave rise to a burgeoning literature on cultural relations and public diplomacy. Most of this work focused on Europe, and much of it was written by European scholars. The fall of the Soviet Union reinforced and accelerated European fears over the costs of embracing American culture, fears that were often framed in terms of the "Americanization" of Europe. These concerns intersected with a long-standing bias toward Europe in work in American foreign relations history. As a result, the 1990s saw a veritable blizzard of works on U.S. public diplomacy in Europe, much of it concerned with cultural transfer and "cultural imperialism." A related strand of scholarship—written in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union—focused on U.S. psychological warfare behind the Iron Curtain with an eye to
explaining the role of culture, ideology, and propaganda in spelling the demise of the Soviet empire. Together, these scholars explored and debated the major issues associated with American public diplomacy in Western and Eastern Europe, in the process shaping the overall contours of the field.
Although the scholarship has been narrowly focused in terms of region and periodization, there has been a tremendous amount of variety within the field, and sharp disagreements have emerged. One important area of inquiry has concerned the sponsorship of public diplomacy campaigns, exploring such questions as: who are crafting these campaigns, who are carrying them out, and what are their objectives? Works focusing on these questions have explored the distinctions between covert and overt public diplomacy (or, in the vernacular of the profession, the shades of black, white, and gray propaganda). Scholars have been particularly interested in how the American government sought to camouflage its activities through surrogates, such as in the case of the CIAs involvement in the Congress for Cultural Freedom in the 1950s and 196os. When Frances Stonor Saunders published her impassioned expose of CIA involvement in various European cultural enterprises—titled The Cultural Cold War in the United States, but more provocatively Who Paid the Piper? in Europe—she precipitated a rich and lively debate about America's role in the intellectual Cold Wars in Europe. A key strain of analysis focused on the so-called "state-private" network that linked the U.S. government—either overtly or covertly—with private individuals and organizations in sponsoring various cultural and propaganda programs. Some argued that the American state co-opted these private groups and subverted democratic ideals, while others painted a more benign picture of state-private collaboration.'?
In a related line of inquiry, scholars have wrangled over the reception of public diplomacy. Often seen as the handmaiden of cultural imperialism, U.S. public diplomacy has been characterized as aiding and abetting the intrusion and expansion of American consumerism and popular culture. In that sense, historical research on public diplomacy has been caught up in the very rancorous debate over the impact of American culture in Europe. A z000 roundtable discussion in the journal Diplomatic History has been the most useful in fleshing out the terms of this debate. On one side, scholars have employed terms such as "cultural imperialism," "Americanization," and "coca-colonization" to describe, in an often disapproving way, the process through which the United States remade European culture during the postwar period. On the other side, scholars have suggested that this interpretation is too simplistic and deprives the Europeans of any agency. Arguing instead for the value of examining reception, they have contended that Europeans often assimilated or adapted American culture to suit their own ends. These conversations over the sponsorship and reception of American propaganda and cultural initiatives have been the core issues defining the field of public diplomacy history as a whole.
Yet important issues associated with the practice of public diplomacy have been obscured by these debates. In particular, concepts associated with the goals, strategies, and methodologies of public diplomacy have been under-theorized because they have been cast overwhelmingly in American and European contexts. Moreover, with most of the scholarship focusing on Europe, U.S. public diplomacy in the Third World—the priority "target area" of Cold War propaganda from the 1950s through the 1990s—has gone virtually unexamined by scholars. Furthermore, even though mass media has made public diplomacy an important part of the international relations of all states, only a handful of studies have explored the public diplomacy activities of other countries. Finally, and perhaps of greatest concern to the debate over public diplomacy today, has been the reluctance of scholars to assess the effectiveness of public diplomacy campaigns, with the result that public diplomacy studies tend to assume or imply that public diplomacy programs have had the impact that practitioners intended.
Public Diplomacy History as Cultural and International History
With these issues in mind, this collection of essays seeks to provoke a reexamination of public diplomacy history. Reflecting the reality that most contemporary scholarship on public diplomacy focuses—in one way or another—on the United States, the essays collected here analyze facets of the American experience. But the book also attempts to shift the conversation to the international arena by highlighting the fact that the United States has not only been an important sponsor of public diplomacy but also a frequent target of public diplomacy initiatives sponsored by others. Many of the essays in this collection look beyond Washington to explore the ways in which foreign states, non-governmental organizations, and private citizens have used public diplomacy to influence the government and people of the United States.
While highlighting the importance of internationalizing the story, this collection also accentuates the ways in which public diplomacy history can continue to shape our understanding of the broader history of the United States, its politics and culture. Robert J. McMahon has persuasively defended the importance of continuing to study the foreign relations of the United States for what it tells us about the broader contours of American history as national history. In this endeavor, scholarship on U.S. public diplomacy history has much to add: research that addresses the propaganda, psychological, cultural, and ideological dimensions of U.S. diplomacy does much to enrich our understanding of U.S. foreign relations and of the American historical experience.
As a work of diplomatic history, the collection brings together two intellectual trends that are expanding the horizons of the field, but which appear to be moving in two different directions: the move to "internationalize" the study of diplomacy to focus more fully on the interaction between states rather than simply the policy-process of a single state; and the move to expand the research agenda to include ideological, cultural, social, and domestic factors as elements of foreign affairs. In other words, the volume integrates the concerns of the "new international history" with the "new cultural history" of foreign relations.
Defining Public Diplomacy
Readers will likely notice that different authors in this volume conceptualize public diplomacy differently. In part this is because public diplomacy defies easy definition. It has been associated with such nebulous activities as propaganda, psychological warfare, information, communication, cultural diplomacy, and dozens of other related terms with varied meanings. Most authors credit Edmund Gullion, dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, with coining the term "public diplomacy" in the mid-1960s. Gullion's reflections on how he devised the term are instructive. "I would have liked to call it 'propaganda, " he confessed. "It seemed like the nearest thing in the pure interpretation of the word to what we were doing. But 'propaganda' has always had a pejorative connotation in this country. To describe the whole range of communications, information, and propaganda, we hit upon 'public diplomacy: "23 As Gullion's remarks suggest, the term "public diplomacy" itself has served as a euphemism for propaganda, as have other common monikers "public affairs," "communication," and "information." Such terms were popularized to make the idea of propaganda more palatable to a public which regarded it as deceitful and undemocratic.
Generally speaking, public diplomacy involves the cultivation of public opinion to achieve the desired geopolitical aims of the sponsor. In some respects, public diplomacy could be defined as propaganda in the service of a nation's foreign policy.25 After all, most public diplomacy programs share a common fundamental objective: fostering a receptive climate of opinion for the sponsor's foreign policies. Public diplomacy is thus one component of a nation's "soft power," its ability to persuade.
But defining it this way can be problematic as well. For one, public diplomacy is not exclusively a state-sponsored activity. Non-governmental organizations and private groups have both contributed to public diplomacy campaigns organized by national governments and sponsored public diplomacy campaigns of their own. Moreover, some activities that could be defined as "cultural relations" or "cultural diplomacy" (equally murky terms) do not always fit easily under the public diplomacy rubric. Are cultural diplomacy and public diplomacy the same thing? Some authors see cultural diplomacy essentially as culture used as propaganda—that is, culture to persuade and influence. Under this usage, cultural diplomacy is merely a component or medium of public diplomacy, a mechanism of international persuasion. Others adopt a more expansive or neutral understanding of cultural diplomacy, embracing a wide range of cultural interactions between nations and peoples.
Military applications of public diplomacy complicate the picture even further. Is public diplomacy distinct from psychological warfare and other militarized uses of propaganda? Today the American military establishment has adopted a dizzying array of definitions for practices like "information warfare," "psychological operations," "public affairs," "information operations," and "military support to public diplomacy." The defense establishment defines them differently, as if they were distinct from public diplomacy (or for that matter propaganda), yet they all amount to variations of the same thing: communications in the service of the national interest. However one defines it, public diplomacy has long contributed to the intellectual and cultural climate in which foreign policies are made.
As historians begin to assess the long and complicated history of American public diplomacy, this book takes stock of the current "state of the field?' It showcases new and innovative work that reframes the conversation. Each essay in this collection speaks to broader conceptual issues shaping this thriving new field of study. Each adopts a unique methodological or conceptual approach, and each also moves beyond its particular case study to assess broader issues related to public diplomacy history. The essays in this volume are divided into the two sections. Part I demonstrates the value of an internationalized perspective by examining the public diplomacy campaigns of foreign entities that have targeted the United States. Some of the articles—such as those by David Snyder, Neal M. Rosendorf, John Day Tully, and Jessica C.E. Gienow-Hechtanalyze the ways in which countries such as the Netherlands, Spain, Ireland, Britain, France, and Germany have used public diplomacy to shape the policies and perceptions of Americans and their government. Other authors in Part I focus on supranational organizations or transnational organizations—as with Seth Center's essay on the public information campaigns of the United Nations and Hector Perla's essay on the public diplomacy efforts of revolutionary guerillas in El Salvador. Each of these essays highlights the promise and potential of writing the history of public diplomacy as international history.
Jessica C.E. Gienow-Hecht blends an internationalized approach with a comparative methodology. She contrasts U.S. public diplomacy during and after the Cold War to the cultural diplomacy practiced by European states in the nineteenth century. She concludes that the centrally planned and carefully orchestrated nature of Cold War propaganda represented an aberration in modern international relations. In the nineteenth century, she notes, Germany, Britain, and France competed for cultural influence in the United States as part of their broader contest for empire. But the national governments of these countries played only a minor role in these cultural diplomacy efforts. "The principal agents of cultural transmission and exchange were nongovernmental individuals and organizations," she writes. By contrast, the mechanics of cultural diplomacy during the Cold War, and to some extent the preceding world wars, stressed the role of national governments. Preoccupied with ideological struggles, the major powers invested unprecedented sums of money and energy to wage the Cold War through the arts, academic exchanges, and cultural presentations. Gienow-Hecht extends her analysis to contemporary cultural diplomacy to assess how it compares to previous eras. She concludes that cultural diplomacy today more closely resembles the loose structures developed in the nineteenth century than it does the massive propaganda machines of the Cold War.
Gienow-Hecht also urges historians to employ greater analytical precision when discussing public diplomacy and cultural diplomacy—two concepts that are often used synonymously, but which, she argues, were more distinctive than scholars typically acknowledge. In addition, she challenges her fellow historians "to soft pedal our ongoing fascination with the Cold War" and advocates a long-term examination of the structural and theoretical foundations of public diplomacy and cultural diplomacy. Because so much historical writing has focused on the Cold War and the role of the United States, it has mistakenly implied that cultural diplomacy became a key instrument of foreign policy when the nation sought to contain the Soviet Union. As a result, the study of cultural diplomacy continues to stress state control and political manipulation—an association that obscures other more complicated manifestations of cultural diplomacy in world history.
David Snyder casts his case study with respect to the relationship between "hard power" and "soft power." He does so by looking at how a relatively weak country, the Netherlands, attempted to influence a much stronger one, the United States. Focusing on Dutch efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy during World War II and the early Cold War, he analyzes the dilemma of power that confronted the Netherlands Information Bureau (NIB), which directed an expansive information and cultural relations campaign in the United States from its base in New York City. Snyder shows that in attempting to use public diplomacy as "soft power" to advance Dutch national interests, the NIB was constrained by its relative lack of "hard power." It could call on few economic or military assets to give teeth to Dutch foreign policy ambitions.
During the two most pressing policy moments in contemporary Dutch foreign policy—WWII and the postwar decolonization of the East Indies—the Netherlands was forced to pursue its foreign policy aims with little effective hard power leverage. While the Netherlands was occupied by the German army, during the time of official American neutrality, the paramount goal of Dutch foreign policy and public diplomacy was to enlist the United States in the war. Yet the Netherlands lacked the kind of hard power that could draw the Americans into any kind of partnership. Thus Dutch public diplomacy projected an image of a "small Holland:' helpless, victimized, and desperate for aid and sympathy. The dearth of effective hard power also constrained Dutch efforts to reestablish control over the East Indies after the war had ended. The effort to reassert imperial dominion in the East Indies, lacking sufficient power to accomplish the job, required the Netherlands to enlist American aid. Dutch public diplomacy now projected the image of a "large Holland," a potential strategic partner in the emerging Cold War. In both instances, the absence of Dutch hard power not only compelled the Netherlands to rely on public diplomacy to achieve its objectives, it limited its ability to harness that soft power effectively. In the end, Snyder concludes, "the Dutch case shows that the analytical line drawn by historians between 'hard' and `soft' power is arbitrary and illusory."
John Day Tully examines the role of ethnic groups as both targets and instigators of public diplomacy. In a multifaceted case study of Irish Americans during World War II, Tully investigates how the Irish and British governments targeted Irish Americans with competing public diplomacy campaigns. Both governments hoped to shape U.S. policy toward Ireland by winning support from the Irish American community. Irish public diplomacy sought to mobilize the large Irish American minority in the United States to exert political pressure on the U.S. government to support Ireland's neutrality. The British, meanwhile, sought to undermine this campaign by appealing to that same audience. But Irish Americans were not mere pawns in this game, Tully emphasizes. Rather, "Irish Americans took up the role of practitioners of public diplomacy within their own country." They attempted to influence not only how the United States government responded to the war, but also how their fellow Americans interpreted U.S. foreign policy toward Ireland and Great Britain more broadly. Tully's essay is a multidimensional exploration of how different governments used public diplomacy to woo an ex-patriot population and ethnic minority, and how that population responded to those efforts. It also looks at how public diplomacy intersected with issues of identity for the Irish and for Irish Americans, and explores the broader phenomenon of ethnic minorities as both targets and agents of public diplomacy campaigns.
Neal M. Rosendorf presents a similarly complex picture, exploring the commercial and personal ties that shaped Spanish public diplomacy during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco. In this case study, we see an American Hollywood producer collaborating with a foreign dictatorship to produce commercial and propaganda films that extolled the virtues of Spain and softened the image of its dictatorship. Rosendorf shows how the Franco regime produced a top-secret international campaign, "Operación Propaganda Exterior," that positioned Spain as a respected Western anticommunist bastion, as well as the cultural and ideological leader of the Spanish-speaking world. The campaign also sought to humanize the image of the Franco regime in the minds of Americans by nurturing a positive vision of the country as a whole and by promoting Spain as a desirable destination for U.S. tourists. Central to this effort was an unusual partnership with a top American film maker, Samuel Bronston. Bronston worked closely with the Franco regime in developing, producing, and marketing films that presented a heroic and romantic image of Spain. Bronston also made free propaganda films for the Spanish government that were screened both in Spain and abroad, including in the United States.
Rosendorf traces the history of the Franco-Bronston partnership from the late 195os to the early 197os. It was a mutually beneficial relationship. Bronston received all kinds of logistical and financial support from the Franco regime for his productions, while Franco benefited from Bronston's films, which painted a positive picture of his country, softened the image of his dictatorship, and filled his treasury with dollars from tourists drawn to Spain by Bronston's epics. Rosendorf probes the intricate web of personal, financial, and cultural links between the two men and the institutions they represented—Hollywood and the Spanish government—while at the same time exploring the role of commercial film production, tourism, and non-state actors in the conduct of international public diplomacy.
The essays by Seth A. Center and Hector Perla Jr. extend the focus on non-state actors as agents of public diplomacy by looking at transnational and supranational organizations. Their essays reveal that weak, non-state actors living in the shadow of American hegemony could nevertheless conduct effective public diplomacy. In so doing, they illustrate the ways weak actors with meager resources for public diplomacy could exert considerable pressure on powerful states possessing far superior public information outlets.
Seth A. Center analyzes the public diplomacy of a supranational body: the United Nations. While most of the existing scholarship on public diplomacy history has focused on the United States, and much of the writing about the early years of the UN has stressed superpower manipulation of the organization, Center reorients the discussion to the "Third World." He explores the ways in which Third World countries maneuvered to control the UN's own apparatus for public diplomacy—its Department of Public Information—to promote an anti-colonial message. Center thus fuses two seemingly distinct public diplomacy stories that run through the history of the UN: the exploitation of the General Assembly as a propaganda forum by member states and the evolution of the UN's own public diplomacy institutions. He illuminates the connection between the rise of Third World influence within the General Assembly, and its concomitant efforts to transform the UN's own public diplomacy institutions to project a Third World ideology across the globe. Organized by the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77, Third World countries co-opted the UN's information apparatus to promote an effective and widespread condemnation of colonialism, economic and cultural imperialism, apartheid, and racism. Individually these states possessed negligible resources for public diplomacy, but collectively they harnessed the propaganda potential of the UN to further the anticolonial cause.
Hector Perla Jr. echoes this theme of the "leverage of the weak." He assesses the ways in which Salvadoran revolutionaries mobilized opposition within the United States to the Central American policies of the Ronald Reagan administration. Perla's study revolves around one of Pres ident Reagan's most contested foreign policy initiatives: the effort to defeat the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) guerrillas in El Salvador. Despite his investments in political capital and monetary resources, not to mention his famed communications skills, Reagan never managed to garner deep support for his Central American policies from the Congress or the public. Perla explains Reagan's failure in this regard by looking at the public diplomacy efforts of the FMLN guerillas, who worked through the U.S.-Central American Peace and Solidarity Movement to mobilize U.S. public opinion against Reagan's policies in El Salvador.
Perla's chapter makes two especially notable contributions. First it draws attention to the ways in which weak sub-state actors have used public diplomacy to confront more powerful adversaries, often with great success (as also shown, for example, in Matthew Connelly's excellent study of the Algerian War). In this way, Perla calls attention to the literature's overemphasis on state actors and their strategies. Second, Perla's essay demonstrates the utility of a specific methodological technique—quantitative content analysis of constituency mail—as a valuable tool for measuring the effectiveness of a public diplomacy campaign. By showcasing a method for evaluating public diplomacy success, Perla makes an especially useful contribution. As Perla points out, much of the existing literature on public diplomacy history can be faulted for not addressing systematically the issue of effectiveness. The result has been a body of literature that often assumes, or argues with little to no historical evidence, that public diplomacy has "worked" as well as its proponents have claimed.
The essays in Part II of the book shift the focus to the United States and illustrate the continuing value of research that focuses on the role of public diplomacy in U.S. foreign policy. These essays complicate our understanding of how public diplomacy was conceived and implemented by the U.S. government during the "heyday" of U.S. public diplomacy: the Cold War.
Justin Hart examines the intellectual and political origins of American involvement in peacetime public diplomacy in the 1940s. He argues that the U.S. government's decision to integrate cultural exchanges and propaganda into the foreign policy process reflected changing ideas about the broader nature of foreign relations. Moving beyond dominant notions of "public opinion" as an external influence upon policymakers, the principal architects of U.S. public diplomacy argued instead for a focus upon what Hart calls "public participation" in policy formulation. In their view, the emergence of the United States as a post-colonial hegemon in the age of mass communications required policymakers to accept "peoples"—at home and abroad—as an organic component of U.S. foreign policy. Such ideas were contested, however, and Hart's essay contains a probing analysis of the seemingly unending domestic controversies that swirled around U.S. propaganda agencies at the time. Indeed, few foreign policy issues provoked more criticism than the government's propaganda programs. FDR's Office of War Information and Truman's successor organizations in the State Department were under constant attack. Opponents of public diplomacy included southerners who resented the liberal message of racial harmony disseminated by U.S. agencies, budget hawks who saw public diplomacy as a wasteful boondoggle, and zealous anticommunists who perceived the pernicious influence of "alien-minded radicals."
But Hart argues that something deeper was going on here. Behind these partisan attacks lay deeply rooted differences over the very nature of U.S. foreign relations. Critics of public diplomacy rejected the very notion that culture and ideology mattered much in international affairs; they did not see how U.S. domestic affairs constituted a tangible component of the nation's foreign relations; and they disagreed about the nature of "public participation" in foreign policy. These critics possessed "a more conventional view of propaganda as a top-down, unilateral effort to tell people abroad what to think about the United States. ... Propaganda was to be treated as quite literally a weapon of war—psychological war—and deployed as such." Hart concludes by situating these debates about postwar public diplomacy in the context of how "realist" policymakers and theorists like George Kennan and Hans Morgenthau conceptualized U.S. foreign policy, and how advocates of what has come to be known as "soft power" conceived of the same.
Jason Parker also examines the formative period of postwar U.S. public diplomacy, taking as his focus the Truman administration's use of public diplomacy toward the "Third World." He thus addresses a dimension of U.S. public diplomacy history that has been woefully neglected by scholars who have focused disproportionately on U.S. cultural infiltration of Europe—a lopsided emphasis that ignores the fact that by the mid-1950s, the brunt of American propaganda abroad was not focused on Europe or on the Soviet bloc, but on the developing world.29 Parker shows that Truman administration officials were initially preoccupied with winning the battles for hearts and minds in Europe, but gradually came to appreciate the decisive importance of the Third World—in large part because of the Soviet-American contest for influence that accompanied decolonization. He examines case studies of Truman-era public diplomacy in Latin America, South Asia, and Korea, focusing especially on the reception of the Truman doctrine and the war in Korea in those areas.
Parker argues that U.S. public diplomacy efforts in these cases primarily revolved around "crisis management," an effort to control the fall-out in public perception in those countries stemming from suspicions about American motives. The result was an ad hoc and reactive approach to public diplomacy that claimed few successes. American public diplomacy was stymied by many things—muddled thinking, technical limitations, and contradictory actions by myriad government agencies with overlapping jurisdictions. These weaknesses were accentuated with a significant conceptual shortcoming: "the Truman administration's fundamental preoccupation with Europe, and its inclination to view events both there and beyond almost exclusively through the prism of the Cold War." This tendency to privilege the anticommunist struggle caused American leaders to underestimate the importance of anticolonialism and contributed to the "scattershot nature" of the Truman administration's public diplomacy in the Third World. There was also an unintended consequence on the battle for hearts and minds in the non-European world, Parker argues. American public diplomacy in the diverse regions outside the European continent helped to create the very concept of "the Third World," an artificial construct that combined whole continents into a single conceptual entity. This fostered a sense of identity among nationalist leaders in the Third World, and it spurred the creation of a non-European geopolitical bloc. Thus, Parker concludes: "U.S. public diplomacy in areas outside Europe was meant to win over peoples there to the western side. Instead, it helped to create, in a sense, the "Third World. "
Nicholas Cull analyses the wider role of film as a mechanism of public diplomacy. He provides a narrative of the use of film by the United States Information Agency (USIA) during the Cold War and its immediate aftermath. Although film has been widely recognized as one of the most important propaganda media, it has not been systematically analyzed as an instrument of public diplomacy. Cull's essay explores the interconnected relationship between high-level policymaking in the USIA, the lower-level exploitation of USIA films, and the contributions of individual filmmakers who were often private citizens and accomplished Hollywood producers. Cull also reveals that the USIAs use of film evolved over the course of the Cold War. Edward R. Murrow, director of the agency for President Kennedy, played an especially important role in pushing the agency to use film in more dramatic and effective ways. As a result, many USIA films became widely seen and critically acclaimed. These included most notably the agency's film about JFK's assassination, John F Kennedy: Years of Lightning, Day of Drums, which became the most widely seen of any USIA production, and Nine from Little Rock, which won the Oscar for best documentary short. USIA film declined in the late 196os and early 197os. Controversies surrounding the agency's propaganda in support of the Vietnam War took its toll, especially when reports surfaced of "staged scenes" in the film Night of the Dragon which damaged the agency's credibility. USIA film was resuscitated by Ronald Reagan's director for the USIA, Charles Z. Wick, a great enthusiast for visual communication. Cull's essay is more than just a valuable survey of USIA film propaganda: it also provides a template for scholarly analysis of the role of film in public diplomacy history.
Analyses of public diplomacy often focus either on the messages conveyed by a sponsor or on how foreign audiences received and reacted to these messages. This methodology erroneously implies that public diplomacy campaigns are static, and emerge, deus ex machina style, from beyond. To fully understanding the nature of public diplomacy, it is necessary to take a closer look at the process of message formation, and how the themes of propaganda campaigns evolve in practice. The essays by Helge Danielsen and Michael Krenn explore how the process of devising and implementing public diplomacy campaigns could change both the message and the tactics of public diplomacy.
Helge Danielsen explores the ways in which local conditions in Norway forced an adaptation of the U.S. public diplomacy strategy devised by the U.S. Information Agency in Washington. Tracing the development of the U.S. public diplomacy in Norway in the 195os, he shows how a program that was heavily dominated by the central ambitions of USIA headquarters was modified during the course of the decade. Increasingly, it placed more weight on local conditions for carrying out the program in the field. These conditions included Norwegian reactions to develop ments in the Cold War itself, the influence from competing public diplomacy campaigns (particularly those of the USSR), local political developments, and national prejudices and preferences—as understood by the public diplomats working in the field. In the early 1950s, the cultural and informational program was predominantly based on the image of America that politicians and officials in Washington, DC, wanted to convey. Approaching 196o, the program was to a higher degree influenced by the image of Norway held by Foreign Service and other American staff working in that country—and of their images of how Norwegians regarded America. This development affected not only the content of the public diplomacy messages, but the means and strategies for transmitting those messages. The result was a more culturally sophisticated, flexible, and effective form of public diplomacy in Norway.
Michael L. Krenn shows how American domestic politics could transform the message of U.S. public diplomacy abroad. He does so by comparing two exhibits of Appalachian culture that were sent overseas first in 1966 and again in 1972. In both cases, the U.S. government organized and financed an elaborate display of artifacts and performers dealing with Appalachian culture. Although both shows featured similar content and were separated by a mere six years, the messages conveyed in each case differed dramatically. In 1966, Appalachian culture served as a shining example of how the American government was alleviating the nation's pressing economic and social problems through Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society" social programs. By 1972, the political landscape had changed and so did the message. With Richard Nixon's more conservative approach to government and the Great Society a fading memory, Appalachia was now presented to the world differently. Instead of accentuating the role of government in bringing change to Appalachia, the exhibit now stressed self-help and rugged individualism; these qualities would bridge the gap between the backward and the modern, the poor and the prosperous. Appalachia now appeared as a symbol of how the tensions between the modern, industrial world and the underdeveloped world could be ameliorated.
Viewed comparatively, the two exhibits highlight how the changing domestic political climate and the dictates of American foreign policy could influence the tone and nature of U.S. public diplomacy. Krenn's study serves as a reminder that U.S. public diplomacy during the Cold War was far from static and unchanging. It evolved perceptibly over time, and not just in response to changes in the international environment or shifts in American foreign policy. Evolving domestic political conditions and shifting political ideologies compelled the practitioners of America's public diplomacy to change the message and apply very different strategies to achieve their goals.
Giles Scott-Smith investigates one of the least understood mechanisms of public diplomacy: exchange programs. He analyzes the most prestigious of the U.S. government's exchanges, the Department of State's International Visitor Program (IVP), and makes a persuasive case for its effectiveness. Scott-Smith uses two case studies from the 198os to demonstrate how the International Visitor Program, in combination with other exchanges such as the Fulbright Program, was successfully employed to establish and build transatlantic channels of informal empire in support of U.S. foreign policy objectives. His first case concerns the effort to cultivate good relations with the British Labour Party. The U.S. Embassy in London hoped to mitigate the anti-nuclear and neutralist strains in British foreign policy by using the IVP program to nurture contacts with young, talented, up-and-coming members of the party such as future leaders Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. His second case covers the expansion of U.S. public diplomacy activities in the Netherlands in response to the political crisis surrounding the placement of Cruise Missiles in the early 198os. The Netherlands became a crucial ideological battleground as Dutch public and parliamentary resistance to American nuclear policies threatened to force the government of the Netherlands to back out of its NATO commitments. In both the Dutch and British cases, Scott-Smith suggests, U.S. exchanges helped develop a body of favorable opinion in policy-making circles and fostered a more positive profile of the United States among the wider public.
Ultimately, Scott-Smith makes the broader claim that since WWII exchange programs have made an important contribution toward meeting the objectives of U.S. foreign policy. He notes that, since its inception in 1949, the International Visitor Program has brought over 100,000 people to the United States, 177 of whom thereafter became head of state or government. In addition to Blair and Brown, other famous examples included Margaret Thatcher, Nicolas Sarkozy, Ehud Olmert, and Hamid Karzai. To understand the political significance of such exchanges, Scott-Smith argues, one needs to adopt a more subtle understanding of power and influence, one that explores the "sociology of international relations" and the networks linking institutions and individuals across borders. In this respect, the IVP functioned as an ideal tool for managing "informal empire?' It furthered U.S. interests without requiring direct political control.
If the past is prologue, the themes explored in the volume will likely comprise the themes that define the future of public diplomacy history: the relationship between cultural relations and propaganda; the impact of domestic politics on public diplomacy programs; the ways in which ethnic-groups have acted as both targets and agents of public diplomacy campaigns; the role of private individuals, non-state actors, transnational groups, and non-governmental organizations in international public diplomacy; the effectiveness of public diplomacy campaigns; the relationship between "hard" and "soft" power; and the function of public diplomacy in maintaining formal or informal empire. In a crucial sense, how we understand and analyze these complex and important issues will go a long way toward determining the proper place of public diplomacy in international relations.
TRIUMPH OF THE LACK OF WILL
International Diplomacy and the Yugoslav War
by James Gow
Columbia University Press
$29.50, hardcover, 343 pages, index
Why did the United States, Britain, France and Germany fail to cope with the collapse of Yugoslavia and its decent into a savage five-year war? Why did the killing continue, even as diplomats, UN peacekeepers, and world leaders desperately negotiated agreements? In TRIUMPH OF THE LACK OF WILL Gow evaluates the range of attempts to find a workable peace, and identifies four factors that helped subvert the peace process: bad timing, bad judgment, poor cohesion, and, above all else, the absence of political will, especially concerning the use of force.
The sudden outbreak of the Yugoslav war contradicted the spirit prevailing among nations after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. The conflict in Yugoslavia presented the post-Cold War world, and Europe in particular, with a critical challenge. In the "new world order" where international cooperation, not armies, would resolve conflicts, Yugoslavia became a litmus test. In a world searching for peaceful ways to integrate collective interests, Yugoslavia represented something that had come to be thought impossible in the late twentieth century: armed conflict in Europe.
Gow analyzes the individual perspectives and roles of major states in Europe after the Cold WarGermany, France, the United Kingdom, the Russian Federation and the United Statesall of which constituted the Contact Group attempting to establish a unified international policy toward the war. He tracks the history of international involvement, including initial intervention by the European Community (EC) and the EC Conference in The Hague; the joint initiative of the EC and the UN to create a diplomatic settlement through the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia; the failure of the Vance-Owen Plan; and UN peacekeeping operations in Croatia, Bosnia and Macedonia. Gow contends that Western governments pursued their own interests even subverting one anothers strategic and diplomatic goalsrather than uniting in a common cause.
At a time when the failure of cooperation among Western powers shatters faith in the UN, NATO, and the EC to deal with such crises, TRIUMPH OF THE LACK OF WILL provides an accessible, balanced perspective readers need to understand the worlds response to Yugoslavias bloody collapse.
Preface and Acknowledgements
2. The Yugoslav Problem: Crisis, Collapse, Conflict
3. Early Initiatives: From Declaration to Recognition
4. Early Initiatives: From Recognition to Reckoning
5. Military Operations: Peacekeeping in Croatia, Bosnia and Macedonia
6. Military Operations: Peace Support and Coercion
7. The Major Players: Paris, Bonn, London
8. The Major Players: Washington and Moscow
9. The Peace Plans: Vance-Owen and ICFY
10. The Peace Plans: Dayton - Accord from Contact Group
11. Conclusion: Triumph of the Lack of Will
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Gow is lecturer in the department of war studies at Kings College, London, and author of Legitimacy and the Military: The Yugoslav Crisis.
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