Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Public Diplomacy and Soft Power

I really enjoyed the articles for this week and found most of the arguments regarding the relationship between public diplomacy and soft power to be logical, intuitive, and very relevant to the current administration's agenda. Given the opportunity of having heard Glassman's speech a few weeks ago, I enjoyed reading his elaboration as to the current state of public diplomacy and the importance of creating an image of America as a country that wants to have tough conversations. I agree with what is said in his current speech, but it brings me back to a point he made while on campus. A primary goal, he said, was to improve the image of America by teaching people about their own culture. I think this attitude, as we discussed last week, is difficult to implement based on the world's lack of recognition of America having a personal culture in the first place. There need to be primary steps to establish our own credibility, and I appreciate his acknowledgment of that in this speech.

Glassman also pointed out the the US international broadcasting system is a "tried and true" element of US culture. Glassman's implication of success in this area is widely disputed (especially in our classroom) and also somewhat refuted by Joseph Nye in his publication on Public Diplomacy and Soft Power. Nye refers to the reactions of international broadcasting with regard to bin Laden and and our blocking of his videos being counter-productive. I agree with Nye on this case and it seems that Glassman would too. If we are concerned with having "tough conversations" then we should not be afraid to broadcast tough topics.

Nye also presents three keys to the development of public diplomacy: culture, political values, and foreign policy. This topic speaks directly to the current administration's charge with regard to the international community. Upon taking office, Obama immediately assessed Guantanamo and also declared his openness to have conversations with Iran. Both of these are critical public diplomacy accomplishments and I appreciate the administration's willingness to take a stand on these issues. From a PD 2.0 perspective, it is imperative to continue making decisions to communicate the idea of the US as a member of the global community- perhaps the rest of the world will begin thinking of us in this favorable light as well.


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  2. Nick, I really like how clearly you state a method and objective of persuing public diplomacy,
    "to continue making decisions to communicate the idea of the US as a member of the global community so perhaps the rest of the world will begin thinking of us in this favorable light as well."

    Glassman has a lot of great concepts but I couldn't help but think that the PD 2.0 lingo was an attempt to jazz up not so new ideas about cultural diplomacy. Yes, particpatory media allows the government to better facilitate rather than manage public diplomacy, but Nye gives a ton of historic examples in which the private sector has been used to foster soft power. The idea of indirect public diplomacy as a tool for cultivating smart power is nothing new to the field. I almost feel asthough your straight forward assertion about the U.S.'s role in the international community is a more contemporary take on public diplomacy than classic views of covert strategic advancement