Saturday, October 24, 2015

What hath public diplomacy linguistically wrought?


Did the addition of the adjective "public" to diplomacy -- which became quite prevalent from the mid-1960s onwards among U.S. governmental circles, then turned into a near-global phenomenon by the beginning of our new century, and today is used the world over (China, India, Korea, Israel, Turkey) -- lead to a flurry of ways to modify the word the original meaning of  this time-tested activity?  (Granted, "gunboat diplomacy" had long been in existence; so had "open diplomacy.")

Well, indications (not based on social "science") are that the verbal creation of that term, public diplomacy, may indeed have provided the groundwork for making various "types" of diplomacy acceptable, if not proud, verbal members of the U.S. foreign policy jargon --

image from

these terms are considered many a subset of "public diplomacy": citizen diplomacy; sports diplomacy; arts diplomacy (I plead guilty of myself using the term);  fashion diplomacy; celebrity diplomacy; gastrodiplomacy -- the list goes on and on and never ceases to expand.

Oh, lest I forget, we have the au courant double-hitter "digital diplomacy," the subject of many press reports regarding the cyberspace "information war" with ISIS. DD (I'm surprised it's not yet an acronym, so far as I can tell) is also the focus of academic "conceptual" speculations on its implications/role. For a relatively recent report on DD, see.

Do note, if you have a moment to consider the past, what the ever-reliable (?) Wikipedia says about "panda diplomacy":
Panda diplomacy is China's use of giant pandas as diplomatic gifts to other countries. The practice existed as far back as the Tang Dynasty, when Empress Wu Zetian (625–705) sent a pair of pandas to the Japanese emperor.
I'd say regarding the ancient Chinese panda practice yes, but (perhaps) no as PD -- panda diplomacy, that is -- as a term (an unintended abbreviation for "modern" public diplomacy?)

image from, with caption: Giant panda in the National Zoo in Washington D.C.

Interestingly, the term "cultural diplomacy" (by many today considered a subset of public diplomacy) seems to have been used by the U.S. government before public diplomacy became part of its official vocabulary by the 1970s.

My own minor contribution to the creation of a new diplomatic expression -- "pubic diplomacy" -- did not appeal to the wordmasters of the universe, although it not infrequently appears as a typo in the press and (as I know from my twenty-years+ professional diplomatic experience) in some U.S. Embassy internal memoranda; need I note that the ambassador's office will not automatically be amused if it receives a message from the "Pubic Section."

image from

I did find this (conceivably) offensive erotic term on Google search, having discovered an article under the title, with the missing crucial "l," "Pubic Diplomacy as an Integral part of U.S. Foreign Relations."

Sir Harold Nicolson would not have been pleased by how his cherished profession --  to be held by gentlemen behind closed doors --  has been redefined/diluted by the (arguably) pushy, "advertising" word "public." Nicolson associated this plebian word with propaganda -- manipulating public opinion -- which he strongly condemned in his classic work, Diplomacy (first edition, 1939).

image from

On the other hand, Woodrow Wilson, dedicated to making the world safe for democracy and hostile the secret schemings of Old World Great War diplomats, was enamored with the word public, as can be seen in the first of his Fourteen Points:
Open covenants of peace must be arrived at, after which there will surely be no private international action or rulings of any kind, but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.
For the reader's amusement, below are recent Facebook entries with adjectival modifications of diplomacy -- which perhaps, to repeat, have contributed to the dilution of the meaning of this ancient word to an such an extent that its has lost, arguably, most of what it initially signified, "the conduct by government officials of negotiations and other relations between nations."

And (which, to the possible consternation of public diplomacy practitioners, whose activity is arguably an oxymoron) has not the creation of the uppidy term "public diplomacy," which opened the floodgates to the dilution of a venerable noun, ironically also led to PD's own destruction as a term with substantive meaning, by the endless multiplication of  its constantly growing subsets?


Extra again addition (3/13/2016)

Nicholas John Cull with Nora Abusitta at McKay's.
Yea! The spring institute in Internet diplomacy is finally underway!

 Extra, Extra, additions! (11/7/2015)
And now we have ... audio diplomacy ...

Forget guns and bombs, it is the power of melody that has changed the world
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And now we have ... skate diplomacy ...

Meet the diplomat-skateboarders of Havana.

And now that we have ... wife diplomacy ... more details

The wives of top Chinese leaders are receiving greater attention in recent years, assuming a greater diplomatic role than ever before in the nation's history.
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    And now we have ... 1.5 track military diplomacy...
    Daily Pioneer: Leading News paper
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    John Brown
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    And now we have ... Female sports diplomacy ...
    WEDNESDAY, OCT. 21 – SAINT LUCIA, Castries: A new child safeguarding and public education programme, where UK sports personalities and graduates will work closely…
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So, this happened :)) "Emoji ‪#‎diplomacy‬? DFAT asked about Julie Bishop's use of a red-faced emoji to describe ‪#‎Putin‬"

We've heard of public diplomacy and chequebook diplomacy. Keen students of international relations will even be familiar with the terms ping-pong diplomacy and…

Dear friends! If you have some recommendations, questions or concrete projects and suggestions concerning international youth cooperation, Russian «soft power» and public diplomacy development, don’t hesitate to write to us. As well we accept expert analytics of good quality for publications.
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And don't forget ... Poem and Prose Diplomacy” ...

Despite a shared background in Confucianism, these cultural traditions are interpreted differently in China and Korea.
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And now we have have ... soap opera diplomacy, in Spanish.

And now we have ... side-eye diplomacy ...

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And now we have ... "Bulgakov Diplomacy" ...

The Kremlin is backing an ambitious effort to make the B-sides of the Russian literary canon more accessible to a global audience. Is it a…
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Monday, August 31, 2015

"Mrs. diplomacy" in the lady

Image from, with caption: Zhang Qian and Chen Yi were devoted to China's foreign affairs in the 1950s and 1960s.

[A] message of friendship between ordinary people. "Mrs. diplomacy is actually part of the public diplomacy." Zhao Jin said, need to be pointed out that, "Mrs. diplomacy" in the lady, including Lady national leaders and senior diplomats, that qualify as a national political representatives officially Mrs. groups. Ms. Chen Yi Zhang Qian, in the history of New China's "Madame diplomacy" had leave an indelible mark. Statistics show that a total of Zhang Qian visited after the founding of New China 21 times, to over 12 countries, during which the delegation had also success has led women to visit Myanmar and Vietnam; in the country, Zhang Qian received many president's wife is the queen and other VIPs, New China's diplomatic vision, especially in terms of Southeast Asia and exchanges remarkable achievements. Zhuo Lin Ms. Deng Xiaoping, then together with Deng Xiaoping at the end of January 1979 to the beginning of February, after the founding of New China to achieve a first visit to the United States of Chinese leaders. Zhao Jin said that, although the Constitution and the law does not define responsibilities and obligations conferred and Mrs. national leaders. ...

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via ACP
And now we have ... "koala diplomacy."

Australia has begun formalising the use of koalas as a "soft power" diplomatic strategy, with a 600-page manual for the practice having been drawn-up by the foreign affairs department and the marsupials increasingly being…

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