Saturday, March 4, 2017

Trump and Public Diplomacy: a Question from George Clack

via GC on FB; posted here with his kind ok.
Saturday Question: Since Donald Trump is now America’s pre-eminent public diplomat, the person to whom foreign governments and populations are paying the most attention, does it make sense to cut back on public-diplomacy funding and staff within the State Department?

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Michael Hurley said...

Hi George. Quite the contrary. Whatever one thinks of the new President, public diplomacy is not about the individual leader (nor is it just about conveying policies thru social media), but rather about the United States as a whole. We are at peril if we still do not understand that public diplomacy establishes the context for further dialogue with people from other countries. We don't need them necessarily to love us, but we do want them to disagree with us for the right reasons. People everywhere will easily distinguish between the hard propaganda and a genuine effort to find common ground. A Fortress America approach will only limit our opportunities and will end badly in a new great depression or worse, where "get me some" becomes our new motto as we seek to use others as our poodles. Public diplomacy must remain in the toolkit so that we have a fighting chance to make our way in this brave new world.

Jon Beard said...

I guess, on balance, I agree with Michael Hurley's comment (above) re the continuing need for traditional public diplomacy efforts and programs. However, we need to be mindful of the impact on our efforts of erratic leadership and poorly conceived policies. Twas ever thus, I suppose, but based on what's occurred so far, this could be a truly heavy lift.