Saturday, February 4, 2017

Janus-Faced Public Diplomacy: Creel and Lippmann During the Great War


image from amazon

At the risk of self-promotion (and yes, your blogger really does have little to promote himself about), I was much flattered by the encouraging comment by Professor Nicholas Cull, widely acknowledged as the leading historian (the "Gibbon") of American public diplomacy, re a recently published article of yours truly in Deborah Trent, Ph.D., editor of Nontraditional U.S. Public Diplomacy, under the title

"Janus-Faced Public Diplomacy: Creel and Lippmann During the Great War."

Here is Professor Cull's kind Facebook message, which he ok'd that I share with persons interested in public diplomacy:
Just got hold of the PDC [Public Diplomacy Council] book edited by Trent and wanted to say how much I enjoyed the final form of your essay. It has a subtlety and broader resonance which deserves a wider dissemination and read to me like the set up for a Ken Burns. Kudos dude. I'll certainly put it on the reading list for my PD history class.
Also, was intellectually encouraged by the kind words from Professor Donald Bishop, a former Senior Foreign Service officer, active member of the Public Diplomacy Council, regarding my piece during his presentation at the Heritage Foundation at the launch of the volume.

For a bibliography on which the above piece is based, see [personal note: it's worth reading if you like nasty comments :)] 
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From the lead paragraphs of the article:
World War I, the war that did not end all wars, was marked by governments’ unprecedented diplomatic efforts to influence public opinion, an increasingly important element in foreign affairs.
In the United States, there were two politically active newspapermen who played a significant role in this early form of public diplomacy: The first is George Creel (1876–1953), chairman of President Woodrow Wilson’s Committee on Public Information (1917–1919) and author of How We Advertised America, The First Telling of the Amazing Story of the Committee on Public Information that Carried the Gospel of Americanism to Every Corner of the Globe (1920). The second is Walter Lippmann (1889–1974), a media pundit par excellence, drafter of Wilson’s Fourteen Points, who briefly served in propaganda operations of the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Branch in France (1918). Lippmann coined the well-known term “the manufacture of consent” in his influential book Public Opinion, first published after the war (1922).
Like the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs and former Time Magazine editor Richard Stengel—whose stated goal is, among others, “to confront ideological support for terrorism”—Creel and Lippmann were journalists who worked in communications for the American government in its efforts to promote U.S. national interests at a time of global conflict. 
But Creel and Lippmann—strong-willed, ambitious, and well-connected to persons in power—had different views on what the public diplomacy of their day should—and should not—achieve. Creel, at heart a publicist, essentially saw public diplomacy as messaging to mobilize the populace, both at home and abroad. Lippmann, with his scholarly inclinations, viewed public diplomacy as enlightenment to educate the unlearned the world over. 
The main point of this chapter is to examine the tension between Creel’s and Lippmann’s contrasting approaches to public diplomacy—essentially, rhetorical vs. philosophical—thereby shedding historical light on an issue that is still relevant among public diplomacy practitioners today. 

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