Thursday, November 9, 2017

Diplomacy's Public Dimension: Books, Articles, Websites #88

November 9, 2017; via email from BG
Gregory image from

Intended for teachers of public diplomacy and related courses, here is an update on resources that may be of general interest.  Suggestions for future updates are welcome.
Bruce Gregory
Institute for Public Diplomacy
   and Global Communication
George Washington University
Janna Anderson and Lee Rainie, “The Future of Truth and Misinformation Online,” Pew Research Center, Internet & Technology, October 19, 2017.  Anderson (Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center) and Rainie (Pew) posed the following question to 1,116 internet and technology experts.  Will trusted methods emerge to block false narratives and allow accurate information to prevail in the online information environment during the next 10 years?  Or will the quality and truth of online information continue to deteriorate?  The study finds consensus that “the current environment allows ‘fake news’ and weaponized narratives to flourish.”  But respondents are evenly divided on the future.  51% believe the situation will not improve; 49% forecast improvement.  The report summarizes their wide diversity of views on strategies, the impact of new technologies, and the influence of social divisions and human nature.  See also “Tech Experts Split on Whether People and Technology Can Conquer Misinformation Online,” October 19, 2017.

Corneliu Bjola, “Trends and Counter-trends in Digital Diplomacy,” Working Paper, Project ‘Diplomacy in the 21stCentury,’ No. 18, September 2017.  Bjola (University of Oxford) considers a fundamental challenge facing foreign ministries.  Will they continue to see trends in technological acceleration as an opportunity for adaptation and “getting it right?”  Or will counter-trends that technologies unleash (emotional contagion, algorithmic determinism, and strategic entropy) cause foreign ministries to put the brakes on integration of digital technologies in diplomacy?  His paper identifies key issues for diplomacy: (1) a cognitive shift away from following current trends to anticipating new trends; (2) an operational change that replaces a privileged role for foreign ministries with emphasis on a “digital diplomatic system” that features multiple actor (governance and civil society) “networks of networks” in national diplomatic systems; (3) using the concept of “digital emotional intelligence” in navigating fact-based reasoning and amplification of emotional content online; (4) understanding and dealing with negative consequences of artificial intelligence; and (5) understanding and managing “how to balance and prioritize digital outputs vs. policy outcomes.”

“City Diplomacy,” Public Diplomacy Magazine, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, Issue 18, Summer/Fall, 2017.  Scholars and practitioners in this timely edition of PD Magazine examine city diplomacy, an increasingly important category of diplomatic study and practice attributed to urbanization, the rise of populism, the growth and power of megacities, and their capacity to wield diplomacy on critical global issues more effectively than state-based actors. Their articles address a variety of topics: city networks, countering violent extremism, culture, sports, climate, immigration, city branding, and governance.  Particularly useful is the overview essay on “City Diplomacy in the Age of Brexit and Trump” by Benjamin Leffel (University of California Irvine) and diplomacy and urban theory scholar Michele Acuto (University College London) who has written extensively on the subject.  Also included is Nicholas Cull’s thoughtful memorial tribute to the late Ben Barber, his life, scholarship, and contributions to the work of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

Atlantic Council, “State Department Reform Report,” August 2017.  Think tank and advisory panel reports on structures and process have been a standard approach to improving performance in US diplomacy for decades.  This 50-page report, signed by ten longtime State Department professionals, led by Ambassadors Chester A. Crocker, David C. Miller, and Thomas Pickering, continues the tradition.  This is an “insiders” report.  It’s about trying to make the State Department more efficient as a hierarchical organization while preserving its control, and that of the Foreign Service, as the primary actor in US diplomacy and foreign affairs.  One key recommendation: make foreign assistance and public diplomacy “stand-alone” agencies with separate budgets, personnel, and responsibilities reporting to the Secretary of State.  One looks in vain in this report for the implications for foreign ministries of power diffusion, powerful sub-state and non-state actors, networks, digital technologies, city diplomacy, globalization, the huge complexity of today’s “strategic buffet,” and any serious approach to whole of government diplomacy.  See Karen DeYoung, “Report Recommends Consolidating State Dept. Foreign Aid Programs under US State Dept.,” September 7, 2017, The Washington Post; Jared Serbu, “Report Calls for Flatter State Department with Fewer Bureaus,” September 7, 2017, Federal News Radio; “Bipartisan Experts Call for Strengthening US State Department,” September 7, 2017, Voice of America.

Nicholas J. Cull, “A New Beginning? The Obama Administration and U.S. Public Diplomacy,” in Maud Quessard et Maya Kandel, Les États-Unis et la fin de la grande stratégie ? Un bilan de la politique étrangère d'Obama, Études de l’IRSEM, September 2017, 149-169.  Cull (University of Southern California) deploys his historical knowledge, contacts with practitioners, and five core categories of public diplomacy analysis (listening, advocacy, cultural diplomacy, exchange diplomacy, and international broadcasting) in this critique of US public diplomacy during the Obama administration.  His central theme: despite initial promise, the administration “slipped into bad habits which would severely limit its ability to deliver a new beginning.”  Key elements in this trajectory were leadership deficiencies in the White House, State Department, and Broadcasting Board of Governors.  Within this narrative, Cull’s essay identifies some achievements and one area of “impressive success” – partnerships with private sector and civil society actors.  He credits “the professional strength and individual resourcefulness of public diplomats in the field.”  He also notes that US international standing “remained remarkably stable” during Obama’s eight years.  Scholars and practitioners will find plenty to agree with and to debate in Cull’s arguments.  His discussion of “partnership” as an emerging sixth “area of work” is particularly useful in that it raises innovative questions about how contextual drivers of change are reshaping concepts and practice in diplomacy’s public dimension.  (The article, in English, can be found by downloading the full report at the link and scrolling down to page 149.)

Nicholas J. Cull, “Soft Power’s Next Steppe: National Projection at the Astana Expo,” Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, 2017, 13:269-272.  Cull (University of Southern California) evaluates national pavilions and spaces at Kazakhstan’s recent international expo.  Its theme: “future energy.”  He offers brief descriptions and judgments on their strengths and limitations and usefully frames his essay in the context of “world” and “specialized” expos of the past.  Expos, for Cull, reflect the competitive use of soft power, place branding, and public diplomacy by states.  He awards high marks to Austria, the UK, Japan, and France.  He gives kudos to Kazakhstan for hosting the event and planning for long-term use of the site (reserving judgment on its return on investment).  And credit to the US for its excellent deployment of engaging Russian-language qualified student guides (shades of the Cold War), a film portraying American vitality and diversity as the source of its energy (avoiding the issue of US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord), a popular cardboard Hollywood sign for selfies (in the social media competition), and the “miracle” that the US found resources to “deliver a solid contribution.”

Cory R. Gill and Susan B. Epstein, State Department Special Envoy, Representative and Coordinator Positions: Background and Congressional Actions, Congressional Reference Service (CRS), R44946, September 15, 2017.CRS analysts Gill and Epstein have written a timely study of the State Department’s special, temporary positions.  With gem-like precision, they identify purposes and authorities for a wide variety of special envoys and related positions, arguments for and against their use, issues for lawmakers (and practitioners), and their use in US diplomacy since 1789.  The report contains information on specific positions, current occupants, reporting requirements, compensation, and proposed changes.  Most temporary positions have a bearing on US diplomacy’s public dimension.  One, the “Special Envoy and Coordinator of the Global Engagement Center,” created by legislation in 2016, reports to the Under Secretary of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.  Concerns about the growth and use of special positions expressed by the American Foreign Service Association, some lawmakers, and many current and former practitioners raise questions.  Which positions should be continued and discontinued?  What is their impact on public policy?  To what extent do they adversely affect the career Foreign Service?  Are some special positions (e.g., the “Coordinator for Cyber Issues” and the “Special Envoy for Climate Change”) essential for dealing with complex “whole of government” issues that exceed the expertise of most career diplomats and capacities of the Department’s bureaus?  The CRS report is an indispensable resource on these issues.

Niall Ferguson, “The False Prophecy of Hyperconnection: How to Survive the Networked Age,” Foreign Affairs,September/October, 68-79.  Ferguson (Hoover Institution, author of the forthcoming The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, From the Freemasons to Facebook) challenges utopian visions of a networked world, as being “at odds with everything we know about how networks work.”  Today’s networks are bigger and faster.  But in other respects they have properties in common with smaller and slower networks that have been ubiquitous in the natural world and social life of humanity.  Using historical examples, Ferguson offers arguments that explore past dominance of hierarchies as networks, the strength of weak ties, network structures as causes of “virality,” networks as complex adaptive systems, innovation and conflict as consequences of networks interacting, and networks as profoundly inegalitarian.
H-Diplo Article Review Forum 721 on ‘Diplomacy and Sport’ in Diplomacy & Statecraft 27:2 (2016): 207-378, published online November 2, 2017.  H-Diplo’s forum begins with “Prologue: Diplomacy and Sport,” the introduction by J. Simon Rofe (University of London) and Heather L. Dichter (Western Michigan University) to their compilation of articles on sport and diplomacy published by Diplomacy & Statecraft in 2016.  The authors, scholars from different disciplines, examine sport and diplomacy as a field of study; its relevance to public diplomacy, soft power, and participatory diplomacy; and a variety of case studies. 
In her generally positive review, Jessica M. Chapman (Williams College) highlights efforts to frame conceptual boundaries, multi-directional relations between state actors and sports federations, and issues calling for further research.  Limitations of the collection, she notes, include apparent restrictions of actors to states and sports federations and its relative inattention to the significant role of sport and diplomacy in the decolonizing and post-colonial world. 
Paul Sharp’s (University of Minnesota Duluth) close reading of these “original, stimulating” articles is valuable both for his constructive critique of their arguments and his discussion of how they reflect larger issues in diplomacy as “also a relatively new field of inquiry.”  The articles provide ample confirmation that sports diplomacy is increasingly important, he argues; they also demonstrate numerous challenges in analyzing sport and diplomacy separately and in the way they fit together.

Harry W. Kopp, “The State of Dissent in the Foreign Service,” Foreign Service Journal, September 2017, 41-45. Kopp (retired diplomat and author of The Voice of the Foreign Service: A History of the American Foreign Service Association) profiles historical lessons and examines dilemmas (professional and moral) that career diplomats face in making difficult choices at the crossroads of dissent and Foreign Service discipline.  His article opens with a brief survey of the contrasting responses of career diplomats during the McCarthy era, Vietnam, and the Iraq War.  He discusses the State Department’s Dissent Channel, created in 1971, its purpose, frequency of use, and minimal effect on policy.  Two recent dissents, on Syria and the Trump administration’s travel ban, became public through leaks to the press and social media.  Kopp warns that dissent should remain private.  Public dissent erodes trust, undermines the Foreign Service as an institution, and puts professional diplomats in the political arena where they are “ill-equipped to play, and where they will almost surely lose.”

Harry W. Kopp and John K. Naland, Career Diplomacy: Life and Work in the U.S. Foreign Service, (Georgetown University Press, 2017, 3rd edition).  Retired US diplomats Kopp and Naland provide a guide to the Foreign Service as an institution and a profession in this updated and revised third edition.  Drawing on their experiences and numerous interviews, they offer insights into what to expect in a Foreign Service career, from the entrance exam to senior assignments.  They discuss work in its five career tracks: political, economic, public diplomacy, consular, and management.  This edition includes new information on relations with other agencies and the US military’s combatant commands, more in-depth analysis of hiring procedures, an examination of the changing nature and demographics of the Foreign Service, and views on the proliferation of political appointments in the Department of State.

Richard LeBaron, “A New Citizen of London Shines on the Other Side of the Thames,” The Foreign Service Journal, September 2017, 57-61.  Ambassador (ret.) LeBaron draws on his experience as former deputy chief of mission in London to discusses challenges in achieving the new US embassy: (1) a fraught site selection process that turned out well (in center city, not out near Heathrow), (2) an architectural design that met strict Bureau of Diplomatic Security guidelines and also created “a welcoming and impressive structure – not Fortress America,” and (3) a building that sets “new standards of sustainability” with systems that conserve power and have the capacity to sell surplus energy to neighbors.  LeBaron anticipates the new space will not satisfy some critics.  He cautions that people who manage security and energy systems will matter as much as the structure.  His role in its construction gives him a vested interest.  Nevertheless, the new US Embassy London is an instructive chapter in the ongoing story of space, access, security, and efficiency in diplomacy’s public dimension.

Stuart Murray and Patrick Blannin, “Diplomacy and the War on Terror,” September 18, 2017, Small Wars Journal.  Murray and Blannin (Bond University, Australia) contend that, although diplomacy has played a vital role in the “war on terror” since the attacks of 9/11, it is now a marginalized instrument and analytical perspective in US national security and foreign policy.  Their paper begins by examining the spread of extremist groups and efforts to counteract them in what promises to be a decades long conflict.  It then constructs a framework that describes and maps diplomatic methods and practices used by state, non-state, and radical actors to achieve political ends.  Their goal is to increase attention to diplomacy in the fight against terrorism, address deficiencies in the academic study of diplomacy, and guide future scholarship.  In discussing traditional state diplomacy, the authors give attention to summit diplomacy, defense diplomacy, secret diplomacy, public diplomacy, and digital diplomacy.  They argue the diplomacy of large numbers of non-governmental organizations is just as dynamic as the diplomacy of states, and they link the two with a deep dive analysis of the study and practice of networked diplomacy.  They also address in persuasive detail the concept that radical actors engage in diplomacy.  Murray and Blannin conclude their thoughtful and challenging analysis with recommendations for theorists and practitioners.  A lengthy series of endnotes provides references to the practitioner literature and recent work of leading diplomacy scholars.

Dina Smeltz, Ivo Daalder, Karl Friedhoff, and Craig Kafura, What Americans Think About America First, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, 2017.  The Chicago Council’s survey, led by experienced public opinion analyst Dina Smeltz, tested the appeal of President Trump’s slogans and ideas among the American public.  They found that, aside from his core supporters, most Americans continue to endorse an active role in world affairs and maintaining alliances.  A record number say international trade is good for consumers, the economy, and job creation.  The perceived threat from immigration has gone down, and support for citizenship opportunities has gone up.  A majority supports the Paris Climate Agreement.  Overall, they conclude, most Americans favor sustaining policies of engagement typical of US administrations of both political parties since World War II.

U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, 2017 Comprehensive Annual Report on Public Diplomacy & International Broadcasting, Washington, DC, September 2017.  As is now customary for this bipartisan, Presidential Commission, its 2017 annual report divides into two parts.  A sizeable majority of its 350-pages constitutes a reference guide to objectives, funding levels, and management of public diplomacy activities conducted by the Department of State, US missions abroad, and international broadcasting activities of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).  In rich detail, and with useful cautions on interpreting the data collected by State and the BBG, the Commission provides context, historical comparisons, and analysis of costs per program, country, exchange participants, and other indicators.  Policy analysts, lawmakers, scholars, and practitioners will find it an indispensable resource. 

The second part of the report contains the Commission’s recommendations.  Key recommendations call for (1) new “clean slate” legislative authority to consolidate and replace “labyrinthine and antiquated” 20th century legal mandates and reform a sclerotic bureaucracy that inhibits “coordinated, synchronous” State Department responses to new public diplomacy challenges; (2) leadership and training for all practitioners that will enhance strategic planning, calculated risk-taking, continuous learning, and appreciation of learning by mistake; (3) a variety of legal and management changes intended to increase State’s capacity to “conduct industry-standard research and evaluation;” (4) a full strategic review of the scope and organization of more than 75 educational and cultural affairs programs leading to consolidation of similar programs, greater efficiencies, and improved public understanding of their value; and (5) a “blue-sky conversation” on reform of the BBG and ideal structures and functions of US-funded international media.  Overall the Commission seeks sweeping changes in authorities, structures, and practice.  It is uniquely positioned in future reports to illuminate in greater depth reasons, desirable outcomes, and politically viable roadmaps leading to the transformations it seeks.

Vivian S. Walker, The Floating Tree: Crafting Resilient State Narratives in Post-Truth Environments: The Case of Georgia, CPD Perspectives, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, Paper 3, October 2017.  Walker (Faculty Fellow, USC Center on Public Diplomacy) continues to provide informed, teachable, and well-written case studies.  Here she examines Russia’s efforts “to shape a narrative about Georgia as a security and economic partner that at the same time serves as a counterpoint to Euro-Atlantic interests.”  Her paper weaves together insights on Russia’s use of disinformation, national identity, memories, aspirations, and external threats in narrative construction.  She discusses problematic elements – strategic ambivalence and structural dysfunction -- in Georgia’s strategic communication and efforts to create its own narrative.  She also analyzes broader implications for creation of resilient state narratives and offers recommendations for official responses to disinformation.  As usual, citations in her endnotes and her trademark distribution of discussion questions throughout the text make her study ideal for classroom use.

R. S. Zaharna, “Diversity in Publics and Diplomacy,” Working Paper, Project ‘Diplomacy in the 21st Century, No. 15, September 2017.  Zaharna (American University) argues “Western diplomacy needs an expansive vision of communication to match the global reach of its communication tools.”  Diplomatic actors need to give the same intensive attention to what makes communication meaningful as they do to digital communication tools.  She urges greater attention in particular to mediating identity and emotion in relations with diverse publics and political actors.  Her 5-page paper is a menu for further research. 

Recent Blogs and Other Items of Interest

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, “Top U.S. Diplomat Blasts Trump Administration for ‘Decapitation’ of State Department Leadership,” November 8, 2017, Foreign Policy; Barbara Stevenson, “Time to Ask Why,” Letter to American Foreign Service Members, forthcoming December 2017, The Foreign Service Journal.

Matthew Armstrong, “Don’t Do It: Why the Foreign Agent Designation Is Welcomed by RT and Sputnik,” September 21, 2017, MountainRunner.US

Kathy Artus, “Cultural Exchange: The Intangible Benefits,” October 2, 2017, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

Mark L. Asquino, “Uzbekistan,” November 2, 2017; “Senate Committee on Appropriations Slams Proposed Cuts to State/USAID Budgets,” September 14, 2017, Take Five Blog, Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication, George Washington University.

Andrew Beaujon, “Can This DC TV Show Win the Messaging War Against Russia?” November 1, 2017, Washingtonian.

Corneliu Bjola, “Satellite Remote Sensing and Diplomatic Crisis Management,” October 11, 2017, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

Mieczyslaw Boduszynski and Philip Breeden, “Russian Disinformation and U.S. Public Diplomacy,” November 1, 2017, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

Tom Fletcher, “How to Become a Soft Power Superpower,” October 13, 2017, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

Yoichi Funabashi, “Japanese Strength in Soft Power Foreign Policy,” November 6, 2017, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

Irwin Steven Goldstein, Nominee for Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Written Statement for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, November 1, 2017.

Joe Johnson, “New Public Diplomacy Chief Named for US State Department,” September 26, 2017, Public Diplomacy Council.

Markos Kounalakis, “Donald Trump Is Decimating America’s Tourist Economy,” October 16, 2017, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

Olga Krasnyak, “Evolution of Korea’s Public Diplomacy,” October 9, 2017, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

Tomás Kroyer, “Soft Power and Public Diplomacy in Latin America: A View From Argentina,” September 15, 2017, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

Laura Kyrke Smith, “Digital Power and the Power of Citizen Networks & Advocacy Organizations,” October 25, 2017, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

Mel Levine, Rockwell Schnabel, and Jay Wang, “American Public Diplomacy Is Our Country’s Best Foreign Policy Tool,”September 9, 2017, The Hill.

Pippa Norris, “Trump’s Global Democracy Retreat,” September 7The New York Times.

Michael Pelletier, “Owning Leadership,” November 2017, The Foreign Service Journal.

Shawn Powers, “Valuing Public Diplomacy,” November 3, 2017, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

Sean Riordan, “The Real New Diplomacies,” September 11, 2017; “What is a Diplomat,” September 4, 2017, CPD Blog, USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

Sayed Salahuddin and Pamela Constable, “U.S. Commander in Afghanistan Apologizes for ‘Highly Offensive’ Leaflets,”September 7, 2017, The Washington Post.

Moira Whelan, “It’s Time for the State Department to Stop Throwing Money at Facebook,” October 31, 2017, Foreign Policy.

Jason Zengerle, “Rex Tillerson and the Unraveling of the State Department,” October 17, 2017, The New York Times Magazine.

Gem From The Past

Geoffrey Cowan and Nicholas J. Cull, eds., “Public Diplomacy in a Changing World,” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Volume 616, March 2008.  It soon will be ten years since Cowan and Cull (University of Southern California) compiled what has become a truly seminal collection of articles intended “to explain the concept of public diplomacy, to put it into an academic framework, and to examine it as an international phenomenon and an important component of statecraft.”  Innovative articles by scholars and practitioners writing from academic perspectives in this special edition of The Annals have influenced subsequent scholarship, and they are still widely assigned as course readings in college classrooms and foreign ministry training programs.  The table of contents and inexpensive used copies are available online. 
Articles especially useful for students over many years, in this writer’s experience, include:
-- Geoffrey Cowan (University of Southern California) and Amelia Arsenault (Georgia State University, US Department of State), “Moving from Monologue to Dialogue to Collaboration: The Three Layers of Public Diplomacy.”
-- Nicholas J. Cull, “Public Diplomacy: Taxonomies and Histories.”
-- Joseph S. Nye, Jr., (Harvard University), “Public Diplomacy and Soft Power.”
-- Monroe E. Price, Susan Haas, and Drew Margolin, (Annenberg School of Communication, University of Pennsylvania), “New Technologies and International Broadcasting: Reflection on Adaptations and Transformations.”
-- Giles Scott-Smith (University of Leiden), “Mapping the Undefinable: Some Thoughts on the Relevance of Exchange Programs within International Relations Theory.”
-- Michael J Bustamante (Florida International University) and Julia E Sweig (University of Texas, Austin), “Buena Vista Solidarity and the Axis of Aid: Cuban and Venezuelan Public Dipl[o]macy.”

An archive of Diplomacy's Public Dimension: Books, Articles, Websites (2002-present) is maintained at George Washington University's Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication.  Current issues are also posted by the University of Southern California's Center on Public Diplomacy, the Public Diplomacy Council, and

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