Public Diplomacy Today and Tomorrow

October 29, 2011: Please note we are updating and revising this page. The new version should appear in November.
Below we define some of the special characteristics and powers of public diplomacy, examine some of the missteps that have brought American public diplomacy into disrepute and made it ineffectual, look at some demonstrably successful best practices that may form the basis of a rehabilitated public diplomacy capacity and suggest organizational reforms that would integrate public diplomacy insights into the foreign policy process in ways that would enormously enhance U.S. interactions with the world. We've divided our observations into five sections, which bear the following titles:

1. Public Diplomacy: What It is, Why It's Needed and How It Could Work Well for 2. 3. 4. 5.
America Again Public Diplomacy: A Profession within a Profession Deconstructing the Interactive Shibboleth The Field: Where Foreign Policy Succeeds or Fails Public Diplomacy Tomorrow: How to Make It Work, if We Want It to Work

PUBLIC DIPLOMACY TODAY AND TOMORROW By Patricia H. Kushlis and Patricia Lee Sharpe


Music, art, drama, literature---there are so many way of sharing culture across national borders. Our lives are enormously broadened, deepened and enriched when we learn from one another, and governments often make it possible, through subsidies and various complex negotiations, for exhibits and performances to be mounted in distant countries. To the extent that familiarity increases mutual respect and understanding, the world benefits from a multiplicity of such interactions, and public diplomacy uses some of these cultural and intellectual resources to good effect. However, the purpose of public diplomacy, which employs other media as well as the arts, and the reason it deserves strong support and generous funding by the American people has little to do with idealism or purely benevolent inclinations, however much the authors of this article are delighted to encourage and enjoy the arts as private citizens. Public diplomacy is what America does when the U.S. needs popular support in other countries for American policy, which is almost always the case. Public diplomacy, well done, pressures governments to do what leaders might be less inclined to do behind the closed doors of traditional diplomacy. In short, cultural and intellectual interaction for public diplomacy purposes isn¶t chummy chitchat. It¶s a carefully articulated, infinitely modulated, multi-media campaign for achieving essential national goals. Public diplomacy, along with traditional diplomacy, works hard to avoid that hideous waste of life and resources called war, which is seldom as cheap or conclusive as habitual hawks would have us believe. Government-to-government diplomacy is an ancient and essential function, but public diplomacy is a newer tool that only governments with good things to share and relatively little to hide can use effectively. As the diplomatic tool par excellence of democracy,

public diplomacy operates by precept and example. abuse of power. Bits and pieces of a once coordinated whole were scattered dysfunctionally among the offices and bureaus of a chronically underfunded State Department. the Pentagon . such as university-to-university exchanges. its remains hardly differentiated from the proliferation of voices aimed manipulatively at slivers of audience here and there.S. therefore. ³Psychological operations´ won¶t regenerate confidence in U. was married.S. America¶s ability to design and transmit policy imperatives to carefully picked foreign audiences was allowed to atrophy by traditional diplomats who never appreciated the immense value of open communications with foreign publics. Although the tried and true educational exchanges and international visitor programs housed in the bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs may appear to have been unaffected during this post-USIA decade. Many influential programs. to the State Department. After 9/11. Although the State Department now ostentatiously revels in a quick adopter approach to new communications devices. Much worse lay in store for USIA¶s information function. dishonesty. Working unheralded for fifty years. timely information to audiences abroad. when the functionallycoherent Unites States Information Agency (USIA). ECA¶s programs have been more or less privatized. Smarter policy and intellectually-respectable public diplomacy may. Even the once authoritative VOA was devalued and dismembered. Even the enormously popular Sister City program is now under the gun. thanks to the Smith-Mundt Act¶s restrictions against ³propagandizing´ the American public. USIA information officers funneled accurate. The problem? It seemed to have no lucrative contracts on offer. Conversely. the way back is difficult. has never performed as its cost-cutting designers promised. leadership. corruption or hypocrisy. The Shambles that¶s U. Public diplomats disseminate information that can stand up to critical or even hostile examination²and when truth penetrates secretive or corrupt regimes the hold of tyranny erodes. shotgun-style. They are subject to the whims of competing sub-contractors. each intent on delivering less for more. since they are funded and staffed through a separate budget line. Credibility has been lost. which was protected by no budgetary firewalls after consolidation. These finely tuned mechanisms for providing contextually-sophisticated materials to foreign media didn¶t just languish under the new dispensation. PD Today The ramshackle public diplomacy architecture created in 1999. no longer exist. a world-respected advocate for American values and policy. should an exemplar of good governance fall into patterns of deceit.

Public diplomacy used to have a wellorganized. Who of his national stature would be willing to assume the powerless position of Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy these days? None that we have seen. The Pentagon. denatured and defunded. No wonder the Obama Administration has set up a White House Global Engagement Directorate to compensate for the skill and vision gap within the State Department. There is no coherent well-integrated public diplomacy function with an attractive career ladder for specialists who may rise to share in major foreign policy decision-making. high morale home in an independent agency run by the likes of the legendary Edward R. An in-house PR capacity will always tempt a powerful executive. some intentionally deceptive. The recruitment. training and assignment process now in place has not replaced this lost generation with a capable new cadre. all tending to undermine the credibility of U. Others just resigned out of misuse or disgust. information programs overall. the Pentagon planned to spend $4. According to an AP story on 2/5/09. And when under-qualified people fill this critical position.´ And the attrition of State¶s public diplomacy specialists continues. employs 27. Budgeting ever more for propaganda masquerading as information. as war propaganda tends to be. What thrifty little old USIA could have done with money like that! Unfortunately. As public diplomacy under the State Department was downgraded. Murrow. advertising and public relations ± almost as many as the total State Department workforce. too many of these slots are filled by generalists with little training and less experience in public diplomacy. throwing billions at untested contractors for ³strategic communications´ programs. a reduction of 24%. . and not enough of them have seen a future in public diplomacy. because many of the experienced information officers who could pull things together are gone.000 for ³recruitment. In 1986 there were 1742 PDdesignated positions. others merely inept. the Pentagon reaps skeptics not friends. Foreign service recruits aren¶t dumb. Today there are 1332. America¶s PD capacity erodes that much more. although we are not entirely surprised. The State Department¶s organization chart tells all.7 billion²in one fiscal year!²for its overt and covert information operations. Worse yet. by contrast.S.leapt to fill this vacuum. many devoted and skilled officers retired early. merely redirecting money from Defense to State won¶t improve the quality and impact of American public information programs quickly.

couldn¶t they? No. too. although we sometimes. slip into PD mode. especially those already working abroad in business. but also because their outspokenness.S. devote themselves to the day-in day-out business of supporting U. Academics do make impressive speakers for PD programs. Chat. This is not to say that PD specialists should not celebrate humanitarians as fine examples of American voluntarism. None of them can. So why can¶t ordinary Americans do the job. mandate and²this is very important²the sworn responsibility to represent current official policy. in healthy doses.PART TWO A PROFESSION WITHIN A PROFESSION Smile. which is why public diplomacy isn¶t for amateurs. on the cheap. Goodness knows. we feel no need to mount a defense of policies we don¶t agree with. or in good conscience. from time to time. Though corporations may. but pure and never so simply. savvy tourists could represent us. back a ballet tour or sponsor a conference. students and/or each decade¶s version of the swashbuckling adventurer. . So²sorry! Only presently-serving Foreign Service Officers have the skills. But few academics could happily. But their skills and commitments are different. out of habit. policies without regard to their own deeply held partisan or philosophical inclinations. they can¶t. The Citizen Diplomat Fallacy Conflict of interest is one problem. academic or humanitarian capacities? Amiable. when the authors travel. the event is usually selected to enhance the corporate image or to soften up or highlight some official with the power to grant concessions or contracts at home or abroad. which is fine. not only because of their subject matter expertise. As for tourists. Academics and humanitarians also have allegiances and values that trump what they often see as crass or transient national interest. Some people think that¶s all there is to public diplomacy. with no competing professional imperative. Seek friends. they represent only themselves. experience. as private citizens now. They should. serves to exemplify the American commitment to free speech and free-wheeling politics. Businessmen go abroad to make money. information.

without complaint. it is also true that not all Foreign Service Officers are cut out to be public diplomats. . Add top notch writing and analytical skills. and the Foreign Service should use and reward such competencies. They can be found and recruited. should be able to operate in one or more foreign languages and cultures. Public diplomacy alone draws on a vast reservoir of skills and tools. That¶s why the Foreign Service exam has a well-earned reputation for difficulty. to support longstanding policy needs or to respond to sudden diplomatic crises. seminar and conference organization. Naturally all FSO candidates should know a good bit about foreign affairs and foreign policy. there¶s no substitute for growing into PD competence under the guidance of senior public diplomacy officers. Bishkek. to be really useful. information technology. Nor does a laundry list even begin to suggest how tools. some that must be acquired by progressive experiences in the field under well-seasoned mentors. and previous experience in a host of professions or occupations doesn¶t hurt. Mostly. liaison with local notables²a list that is not exhaustive. economics. they represent us in Bamako. unpredictable) demands in almost infinite variety. in a population of some 300 million. etc.. on entry into the service or by means of in-service training. Wow! Do such paragons exist? They do²and why not. geography. methods and skills are combined. inevitably. making sure that officers arrive well prepared at post. Baghdad. All diplomats. Add curiosity. high and popular culture. many FSOs these days have more than one degree. all of which must be at hand in order to meet predictable (and. In addition to demonstrating the background qualifications sketched out above. Given such an array of tools. cultural center direction. Diplomatic Bedrock Obviously any FSO needs an excellent education. if that. successful FSO candidates will discover that each diplomatic specialty has its own tricks of the trade. London or Tokyo. Add idealism and loyalty to country. and they should also demonstrate a reasonably sophisticated understanding of their own country²history. exchanges administration. polling and public opinion feedback. But wait! We¶re not finished. too. some working progressively over time. politics. since most officers don¶t spend more than a few years in the likes of Paris. speech-writing and public speaking. And don¶t forget excellent health. including media relations and placement. etc.However. some teachable to recruits. some ideal for quick reaction situations.

unfortunately. special mi-level recruitment is also unnecessary. about 30 percent of American ambassadorships are distributed as political plums or political payoffs. whether the White House is occupied by a Republican or a Democrat. They know how and when to use all their resources. to achieve US foreign policy goals. ever-changing world won¶t be improved by bringing in hordes of people who¶ve succeeded in other fields of endeavor. as it¶s often put. including public diplomacy. Ironically. And yet. Political appointees tend to be the most problematic from this point of view. well prepared for leadership at a given post. In reality. however well-honed their skill sets may be for non-diplomatic purposes. biased toward giving higher marks to midcareer professionals in their thirties and forties. to shake up the moribund State Department) a counterproductive proposition. not for their knowledge of the country they¶ll be serving in. in fact. they may or may not . instead of showing gratitude for the backup that prevents embarrassment all around. not for their knowledge of US foreign policy. not for their proven ability to head an operation as complex as an American Embassy. The Foreign Service entrance exam is. although a happy few arrive already tempered by experience with the country or region. Worse. need 24/7 oversight when it comes to public relations. Political appointees with deep pockets are considered to have the ear of the President. year after year. As for those who continue to argue for a transformative fantasy cadre brought in from the outside and set to work well above the normal intake rungs (and pay levels) on the diplomatic career ladder.but what¶s the use if they lack diplomatic sense or the appropriate skills? Similar drawbacks render the recurrent call for expanding the intake of lateral entry specialists to fill Foreign Service positions (or. perhaps we have gone some way toward demonstrating that any . Some are gems.Shortcuts That Seldom Work The PD specialist¶s job isn¶t made easier by the curious lack of PD literacy that¶s often found among US ambassadors and chiefs and deputy chiefs of mission abroad. these political ambassadors often need enormous amounts of care and feeding. Too many others. They have the experience and rank to maintain fruitful contact with the host country¶s highest echelons of power and influence. Diplomatic success in a complex. Recent college graduates don¶t do nearly as well. Rewarded for their campaign fund-raising abilities. these politicals too often expect from the professionals at post the bowing and scraping they assume is automatically due to anyone with the supreme and exalted position of Ambassador.

What¶s more. for the VIPs involved. needless to say. translate. analyzing and reporting on a country¶s political events and/or economic trends while colleagues down the hall in USAID deeply understand the whole gamut of responsibilities involved in overseeing US aid for developmental and humanitarian purposes. mid-level entries on post morale is unlikely to be positive²and whatever the sweeteners. It¶s for those who are comfortable with the relatively unscripted give and take of public debate of live press conferences. But all Foreign Service specialties share one quality: it takes training. Read the everlengthening roster of those who¶ve given their lives in the line of duty. perseverance and years of experience on the job to master the job. Many Temperaments Meanwhile. Many Talents. for those who²at the drop of a hat²can make the media side of a visit by the President. the Vice President. for those who can get it right without relying on tired (and unconvincing) boilerplate. Others are superb at gathering. the impact of queue-crashing. Clichés notwithstanding. The list grows longer every year. for those who can smoothly handle an in-your-face challenge. Public diplomacy is also a genuine specialty. as with all professions. Their names are engraved on the marble walls of the State Department¶s Diplomatic Entrance. for those who revel in performing on a tightrope stretched between cultures. diplomacy in our world is no tea party. the Secretary of State or a Senatorial delegation into a triumph for the US² recruit has much to learn before he or she reaches professional competence in the Foreign Service. commitment. rephrase and improvise as the climate of opinion mutates. the uncommitted too often don¶t like the life once it¶s theirs. Some FSOs excel at consular work. for those who can adapt. Others are terrific administrators with an uncanny ability to make the embassy machine work efficiently² and happily. PART THREE DECONSTRUCTING THE INTERACTIVE SHIBBOLETH . diplomacy¶s sub-specialties call for different skills and different temperaments.

but once a new communications methodology looked as if it would perform reliably from Austria to Zimbabwe. since there is no end to the upgrading of computer systems.USIA. USIA posts regularly employed highly competent. too. editors and reference specialists who cover the stories. it took more than a few hours time to account for all the communications equipment required to keep a USIA post running. sysops. was quick to understand the usefulness of the computer. schlepped monitors and VCRs to provincial capitals where power often came from generators. and ferret out information on the specialized topics valued by US Embassies abroad. Meanwhile as radio technology improved. it often seems as if the State Department is trying to make up for lost time. The Aura of the Newest Gadget We Americans are so in love with gadgetry that. positioning itself precariously on the other extreme of the spectrum. USIA showed 16 mm films in the jungle. But State has failed to hire (or train staff from within its thinning information specialist ranks) enough information technology specialists to keep all these media running 24/7 while retaining its traditional knowledge workers ± the reporters. provide the texts. of the World Wide Web. writers. one of the glaring differences between the two cultures was USIA¶s pragmatic embrace of communications technology and the State Department¶s technophobia. rented whole theaters. Lately. to keep it in service. as current public diplomacy recruits fall all over themselves to prove they can out-Facebook. Very seldom did a USIA program have to be delayed much less canceled for technical reasons. babbling on and on about the wonders of blogging. we find ourselves going gaga over each new electronic communications device. however. When annual inventory times came around. USIA was ready to put it into service. When USIA was ingested by the State Department. always available audio-visual specialists and. once installed. so hard fought for over the years. like serial monogamists. later. and sometimes for extra special 35 mm film occasions. USIA kept urging that VOA signals be ever upgraded. out-Tweet and out-text the most desperate friend-seeker on the block. was eventually rather sadly compromised. USIA wasn¶t an early adapter in the trendy way the term is currently used. as a communications agency. of interactive press conferences and panel discussions first via telephone and later via satellite TV. texting. though the integrity of VOA news. tweeting and who knows what¶s next on the . What¶s more.

Film. Camera-equipped cell phones enabling twitter. Reports from unknown witnesses. Real People Still Matter Meanwhile. They¶re also to be found chatting in an editor¶s office or sharing telling anecdotes over dinner with contacts they consider to be trustworthy informants. the demise of our major dailies is probably not imminent. some one-way. No gadget. For example. it seems. would supplant all that had gone before. Both pictures and eye-witness data usually need contexting. only a young woman returning home from a music lesson. each ready to serve a specific communications need. CVRs. seemed to have come into their own as important electronic media during the aftermath of the Iranian presidential elections. And so on. Americans thought. and even pictures don¶t always tell the whole truth. So far this has never happened. can be hard to assess. most everyone assumed she¶d been demonstrating against a stolen election. analysis and information about the source who may or may not be well-informed or inclined to objectivity. of course. intelligence. saying that she and her daughter had been involved in at least some of the protesting. . video cassettes. even as texting and instant photo transmissions were keeping a secretive regime more or less honest. some interactive. radio. public diplomacy today is fortunate to have this vast array of communications media at its disposal. fervent. plain old person-to-person interaction is still the gold standard for sharing sensitive information. even the land lines we grew up with ± each of these also arrived with the aura of glamorous newness. TV. each demanding verve. contrary to fonder expectations. cell phones. the latter a recent State Department infatuation. when TV news channels showed shocking footage of a young woman bleeding to death on a street in Tehran. however.horizon. especially here in the U. Nevertheless. Who to believe? Thus. And then her mother was interviewed. field knowledge and general good sense in its application.. This is the stuff of traditional diplomacy. a caveat emerged.S. the internet. That said. Each breakthrough. CDs and DVD. for explaining complicated issues to key players and for hammering out agreement. there were some reliability problems. though public diplomats can also be found at the receptions and cocktail parties where a telling conversation may actually occur. Though print is looking a little wobbly these days. is the be-all and end-all its entranced early adopters claimed it to be. Or maybe she wasn't a protester according to other reports.

This needs to be changed. Legislation was passed. in the end. public diplomats have always tried to assess the effectiveness of their efforts. listening. however the message is conveyed. who likes or opposes whom.S. has always been about interaction. another somewhat obvious. An editorial appeared in a newspaper. debating. the third for establishing a tap into public opinion. The first stage calls for identifying a country¶s most important institutions. although the data was collected by locally-experienced professional polling organizations. the media are not the message. who must have timely. A parliamentarian returned from a trip with a professedly deeper appreciation of the U. Let¶s make it absolutely clear: geek monomania aside. A perhaps unintended result of this bureaucratic decision is that survey design and results are divorced from the on-theground knowledge and program needs of field officers. even this information comes into play: who likes music or books or movies ± or sports.S. mediating. persuading ± and yes. Talking to Whom about What? Competent public diplomacy is always expressed in vocabularies and via media that are natural to those it¶s aimed at. who influences whom and how. When USIA was an independent agency. And when the list is narrowing. This critical who-thinks-what-and why function is now located in the State Department¶s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. about talking. this computer age dictum always applies: garbage in. but such verifiable outcomes should not be . garbage out. Meanwhile. Feedback like this is often dismissed as anecdotal today. the second for knowing its most influential individuals. but mindlessly-iterated mantra these days. explaining. Soon policy changes. It¶s about linking people and cultures. makes what decisions. In the perhaps naive old days. listening carefully.Diplomacy. Choosing an audience (or audiences) within any country is a three stage process.-sponsored cultural and social events that allow for serious talk around the edges. regular feedback if their PD programs are to be relevant and effective. but what transpires isn¶t chatter. And ultimately this: who. in fact. It¶s selective. Networks are also noted: who talks to whom. What¶s more. public diplomacy strategies were informed by opinion surveys designed and analyzed by well-qualified in-house survey research specialists. Then decision-makers and opinion-shapers can be invited to U. the methods seemed obvious. the media are useful public diplomacy tools. It¶s purposeful.

Otherwise the audience feels insulted. This is not good. to gossip. The mass media may work well for starters. that any pretense to rigorous quantification of public diplomacy outcomes must surely be undertaken with a considerable degree of admittedly rare social science modesty. demeaned. including the cultural underground. they recognize recurrent myths and the symbols. each country. And always the process works like a constant feedback loop. attentively ± to people. to body language and facial expressions. They read up on history and literature. is more likely to be candid and open to persuasion. as if they are worth a personally-tailored message. they speak the language. Moreover. to radio.minimized. its success depends on calibration and modulation in the field. Antennae up 24/7 Good diplomats have always listened. it must be articulated and delivered somewhat differently for each public. to TV programs and commercials. to popular music. to art. Those in tune with the exuberances and nuances of a culture can design and deliver messages that get through. they are. Policy is set in Washington. they understand religion and folk lore. If they can cuss in it. let along in the long run. for that matter. And. on any given day. makes every personal contact count. each culture. to the life styles of all social strata. Even a great song needs a new twist from time to time. Public diplomacy isn¶t a profession for the timid. A good PD officer makes the people he or she is interacting with feel special. The Field Matters Whatever the policy-related action or understanding needed. so long as they also know when colloquialisms are appropriate and when they aren't. which is not the same as a playback loop. but close and personal closes the deal. Above all. each individual. taken for granted. aka lies and distortion. including the political impact of natural calamities as well as spillover from revolutions in neighboring countries. A local leader talking with a diplomat who¶s sympathetic and too impressively well-informed to swallow garbage or spin. undervalued. too ± to graffiti. The same alertness. They keep their eyes open. PART FOUR THE FIELD: WHERE FOREIGN POLICY . there are so many variables. so much the better. seasoned with respect.

Overwhelming strength is often resented. Friends are made. Attention is sought. Straddling the two. expensive indulgences whose impact is difficult to measure. Competing influences are neutralized or co-opted. up to a point. although PD¶s need for reliability and credibility makes it more akin to journalism.S. since no country wants to appear to have been coerced. can¶t go it alone in today¶s world. too. even the U. but only because conventional polling is at its weakest when assessing qualitative phenomena and complex interactions. making the U. Being militarily strong helps. accurate and timely information to foreign publics whose mobilization is critical if American foreign policy goals are to be met. better understood and more attractive as an ally. via all media platforms. Properly orchestrated. Alliances are built. youth exchanges. links which keep doors open.SUCCEEDS OR FAILS Foreign policy needs and goals are defined in Washington. It aims simultaneously for immediate and longer term impact. a disadvantage to be adroitly overcome. The Trifecta: Information. Cultural programs are often dismissed as frills. They provide. Education Public Diplomacy at post in the field works both directly and indirectly. They create lasting links between individuals and institutions. It becomes. Planning for Success .S. Public diplomacy¶s role is to move governments by inspiring their citizens to see American goals as good for them. though not customarily administered as such. academic exchanges like the Fulbright program and even. relevant. cultural²these are the co-equal mutually-supportive elements of an effective PD program. Culture. It helps hugely when policy is intrinsically attractive. short trips to the U. Sometimes the information function is confused with the manipulations better known today as propaganda. which is true. thus ensuring a hearing when tough or sensitive issues need support. until recently. Informational. Goals are achieved²or not. the two time lines corresponding roughly to the two branches of traditional PD work: information and culture. paradoxically. for promising mid-career foreign citizens. they enhance the overall American image.S. too. educational. but foreign policy succeeds or fails in the field. university linkages. But raw power flaunted or sheathed. are the educational programs which involve knowledgeable Americans interacting with foreign audiences. Criticism is met.

a social psychologist. Meanwhile. PD-controlled vehicles²to offer a high-quality. which is why. Deputy Chiefs of Mission or Consuls General. a master of media. a human resources geni. perceptive and imaginative field officers must be trusted to devise ways to sell it. In the past. for decades. a self-confident performer²and make it all look smooth and easy to the public. a public relations whiz. the typical State Department officer found it so difficult to appreciate what those public diplomacy colleagues were doing. the wherewithal to run a full service American Center. describing (in cooperation with the entire mission) how the post proposed to nourish the relationship while promoting. therefore. at every post. Naturally big posts in big countries enjoyed more staff and bigger budgets. there was. according to specified strategies. the superb managers that State acquired when it absorbed USIA. and. Washington¶s policy priorities and. last but not least. Talk about squandering capital! . USIA posts were required to submit an annual country plan assessing the state of the bilateral relationship. The State Department has a habit of bemoaning the lack of administrative skills among its high level officers²and yet. and anyone who wanted to be a Public Affairs Officer had to be an adroit CEO. a dollar-squeezing CFO. Expectations for evaluation and feedback were built in. perhaps. a vast range of highly-responsive. year-round program that could and would put America in the best possible light. skilled.Because every country is different²even Canada and the United States differ in ways that would call for modulated communications strategies²a Washington-dictated. except as recorded in the memoirs of better times. requesting the financial. Although a very few prospered and even became Ambassadors. Washington-based backup services. one-size-fits-all approach to public diplomacy. human and material resources to do so. Therefore. however tempting it might seem to bean counters. retired prematurely. firewalled budgetary authority. a cultural impresario. Even today there are calls for outside hires to supply the State Department with managerial talent. a whole cadre of field-tested managers who were also Foreign Service Officers: the public diplomacy people. a supervisor with a knack for delegating. Many. once Washington establishes policy priorities. an appropriate inventory of up-to-date equipment. well-balanced. oneway. a linguist. a program coordinator. doesn¶t work. Even fairly junior officers had managerial responsibilities. But all posts in all countries were guaranteed sufficient resources²Public Affairs Officer plus American and/or locally-hired personnel. were ignored or devalued. last but not least. most public diplomacy operational skills are in a state of disuse bordering on atrophy and will soon be lost. experienced.

Improvisation is necessary. . They make the Ambassador look good. another country throws a monkey wrench into the works²and an IO needs to react quickly. professors and students. They create talking points. the range of counterparts is practically infinite. They lack the multiplier effect of lasting institution-to-institution ties that typically result from multiyear university-to-university linkages or even ongoing classroom to classroom exchanges between high schools. In very different but complementary ways. PAOs and IOs also advise ambassadors and consuls on whether and how to meet the press. So IOs act and react. Knowledgeable Americans may also be asked to join seminars or conferences with local scholars or government administrators or judges or²well. Educational Programs Two flagship educational programs funded by the U. using deft combinations of all available media. Yet Fulbright and International Visitors programs hardly scratch the surface of what can and should be done. each program fosters familiarity with America and Americans that usually translates into useful long term good will. things work according to plan. Institutional relationships also have the advantage of increasing the number of Americans with a deeper knowledge of our increasingly interconnected world. when they aren¶t feeding media reaction to Washington and the Embassy¶s front office. As often or not. an earthquake flattens a city. have been the least affected by the shattering of a once coherent public diplomacy enterprise. in person or via interactive media. to address issues or themes needing attention in a given country. they write speeches. disinformation and plain old misunderstandings. both lost in the consolidation shuffle or thereafter. reporting the latest developments and hoping for guidance in time to stay ahead of the game. a government falls. On an easy day.S. it makes a certain sense to include under the educational rubric the recruiting of academics and other experts who contribute their knowledge. depending on the knowledge gaps the field post deems it important to fill. Finally. The International Visitor Program brings foreigners nearing career peak to the US for two to four weeks of escort-led professional appointments interspersed with tourism. An experienced IO usually makes the right guess. they turn bad news into good press. a leader dies. The Fulbright program is a two-way exchange of academic researchers. Someone has to counter the inevitable misinformation. Sometimes there is no guidance. That¶s what information officers do every hour of every day.The Information Imperative Someone has to figure out how to make American policy goals accessible and attractive.

Why must the U. especially when American pop culture permeates the world? For one thing. private support is also essential. What¶s more. Private Sector Dividends The success of the international visitor program depends on private citizens in cities all across the country. dancers or exhibits of art and photography around the globe. Transporting and housing a theatre company or an orchestra or a dance ensemble is very expensive. With the big ticket cultural items. It¶s often seen as violent and sex-obsessed. They volunteer to help foreigners understand what makes America America .S. each press conference.Cultural programs Cultural programs are the easiest to describe and the hardest perhaps to understand. Arts programming counteracts that image and cements relationships with cultural leaders. but as representative Americans whose friendly helpfulness quickly dispels the negative stereotypes perpetuated by popular culture. even the most generous sponsor doesn¶t get to choose the performance or control the invitation list. who show them the sights and invite them to dinner.´ but this is a mistake. government spend good money to send writers. and this is very important. The true value of these volunteers is the volunteers themselves. Nobody finds it amiss if a corporation sponsors a performance with a few discreetly placed banners or a display ad in the program. The most appreciated reward for volunteers: enjoyable stimulating encounters with fascinating people. plays a part in this larger purpose. These are the people who draw up schedules. whatever its intrinsic interest. However. who accompany visitors and their official escorts to local appointments. pop culture is not universally admired. each lecture. But a little more personal recognition for an important job well done might also be in order. There¶s been an attempt to try to dignify this function by coining the term ³citizen diplomacy. Each recital. not as diplomats. a welcoming full service information operation with a good collection of books and . The Heart of Public Diplomacy The heart of a public diplomacy program abroad has always been the American Center. musicians. Public diplomacy is about activities orchestrated for the primary benefit of furthering America¶s interests abroad. who have considerable influence in the many countries where the arts are more highly valued than they generally in America. many a politically important relationship is rooted in a confidence-building mutual appreciation of some poet or violinist or photographer.

³And there¶s the American Center!´ while showing visitors around the city. PD loses an important in house program venue for conferences. Yes.R. . which should surprise no one. if the State Department¶s budget and regard for public diplomacy were what it should be²and if security experts were willing to cooperate. money well spent. and USIA was absorbed and dismembered by the State Department. Raw unilateral power would do. Bush administration had already decided. shines out from the American Center. No local person says with a pleased smile. PART FIVE PUBLIC DIPLOMACY TOMORROW: HOW TO MAKE IT WORK. After the U. and the Muslim World bestirred itself. make the best possible use of them. Studies indicate that usage suffers badly. exhibits. an American Center declares that America wants to engage the world on an intellectual and cultural level.´ the Secretary of State spoke of the U. people who should have known better crowed about the ³end of history. The days of go-it-alone were over. But it was.S.journals and banks of computers and a congenial professional staff to help each visitor. IF WE WANT IT TO WORK For twenty years America¶s leaders neglected public diplomacy. Either people can¶t get in at all .S. it costs money to run an American Center.and even holiday parties. Without a center or a library.S.S. had won the Cold War and the U. discussions. not just with missiles and Special Forces. Even when policy issues vex bilateral relations. Russia got uppity. didn¶t need diplomacy. But the George W. To save money in recent years. reputation for intellectual achievement. ³cheese-eating Old Europe´ rebelled.S.S. Even the Bush administration knew that diplomacy needed another chance. and could be again. for cultural vitality and for high quality education. When economically disadvantaged students have free access to these facilities. its wars weren¶t going well and its economy had crashed. Then history restarted. Other studies show that the use of American information materials housed in fortress embassies falls by 85%. American Centers have been closed and materials have been transferred to an ³American Corner´ in a local library. English teaching . films. fell apart. the American Center says something valuable about American society.or they¶re unwilling to put up with elaborate security barriers that come across as insulting. as the ³indispensable nation´ in a unipolar world. the U. China and India reinvented themselves. alliances or negotiation to work its will on the world. whatever his or her rank. Above all. By the end of 2008. America was hated. well before 9/11. that the U.

as we have explained elsewhere. But we can dream. It looks as if America¶s foreign policy will remain over-militarized. Discouraging as this is. and his ability to massage budgets . while the State Department puzzled over what to do with its public diplomacy step-child. He may yet wake up to the power of and need for a more securely institutionalized public diplomacy capacity. even if the Pentagon lets more than a few dollars slip through its fingers. Barack Obama¶s popularity remains fairly high abroad. a well-balanced public diplomacy program is not limited to those highly visible educational exchanges and cultural events. funds intended for educational exchanges and certain cultural programs have been firewalled by law. When it comes to lobbying Congress. If State goes hungry.Opportunity Still Beckons Unfortunately. Here¶s the conundrum: the president proposes a budget and Congress signs the checks. that pittance (from the Pentagon point of view) could make a vast difference²providing. Otherwise. the money is protected from the departmental raiders who have made a habit of siphoning PDintended funds and staff slots into other State Department offices. Budgets speak. the Pentagon and its generous contractors are far more adept than Foggy Bottom. Unfortunately. each subject to outside influence. including desperately needed budget increases for beefed up information programs and the reestablishment of American centers abroad. which is to say. the Pentagon began to spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on PD simulacra. should be equally non-fungible. as time goes on and hard choices are made. nine months into the Obama administration. Yet. The resulting series of highly visible fiascos will undermine the credibility of the real thing for years to come. public diplomacy will continue to subsist at starvation level. especially since State¶s limpgoody bag attracts very few well-heeled lobbyists. All public diplomacy funding. it¶s important to remember that moving money from one department to another isn¶t as easy as it should be. they can be put to no other use. assuming that the State Department can regain control over communications with foreign publics²or seriously cares to. and his decision to work with the Europeans while also engaging the Russians and Chinese shows signs of paying off. Yet. his popularity could slip. Ever since consolidation in 1999. of course. his speech in Cairo had resonance in the Islamic world. However. public diplomacy¶s ability to influence events will continue to be compromised. even if the merest fraction of Pentagon funds could be transferred to the State Department¶s Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy to beef up PD staffing and enhance PD programming. there is no sign that the State Department¶s budget will be proportionate to the need for savvy communications on a global scale. but the State and Defense Department budgets are processed through separate Congressional committees.

due process. because public diplomacy has been systematically neglected for twenty years. the top PD position had been filled by otherwise brilliant people who did not understand that public diplomacy is like nothing else in the communications world. as Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy. during her Congressional confirmation hearing that growing up as the child of a Foreign Service Officer made her especially qualified for the job. Now the authors of this series are both mothers of Foreign Service brats. Africa and Latin America have been well-planned and well-received. Judith McHale. the budget must be enhanced and protected and leadership recruitment must be based on more rigorous qualifications. the State Department¶s organizational chart must be revamped. under both Bush and Clinton administrations. More seriously. the Far East. public diplomacy can help America to regain its dangerously diminished moral and intellectual preeminence. the PD mission must be explicitly reaffirmed.S. Off-Target Leadership Choices When the Obama administration nominated the very visible and internationally well liked Hillary Clinton for Secretary State. Meanwhile. Indeed. we watched. . we wonder how many more truly qualified candidates were offered the job and turned it down. late of the Discovery Channel. as the U. Hopefully. the separation of powers. To the extent that Obama strenuously reaffirms the values of the rule of law. assuming the tool kit is kept well-stocked and at the ready. Then came a presidential crony who may have understood Texas politics and American motherhood. Believe us. But promoting America isn¶t the same as selling cars or colas. a superficial understanding of the wider world. Two disappointing incumbents were stars in the advertising and public relations worlds. open government. At minimum. is needed. McHale to date is proof that more. attempted to pad her largely irrelevant vita by stressing. a figure whose public pronouncements to date suggest a shallow understanding of diplomacy and. the unacceptability of torture. Unfortunately the Obama administration has followed the lead of its predecessors in nominating. but she ludicrously misread the mentality of educated Muslim women and was equally out of her depth when attempting to communicate on other global issues.would lessen accordingly. and the inalienable civil rights of every citizen. by far. worse. and over the years we have known many more. that experience alone does not translate into a credible qualification for leading this country¶s public diplomacy efforts. Secretary of State Clinton¶s travels to India. the Obama administration will realize that fluid situations create great opportunities for public diplomacy. withdraws from Iraq and finds a sensible and sustainable equilibrium in Afghanistan and Pakistan. For the past twenty years. But the tool kit isn¶t ready. with high hopes. to see who would be nominated to the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy job.

gaps. a bad sign for the proper performance of any of those functions. has no control and not much influence over PD staffing abroad or in Washington. This is the province of State¶s human resources bureaucracy in . a seat on the National Security Council and an adequate budget. by many multiples. than the entire State Department. The Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy. (2) Meanwhile. Radio Free Europe and an increasingly confused array of US government supported foreign broadcasting spin-offs. duplication. What¶s getting in the way of accomplishing these mandates? Lack of clarity. one of six Under Secretaries. a bipartisan board of directors that oversees the Voice of America. Notice that no exception was carved out to allow the military or any other agency to conduct go-it-alone public diplomacy programs whether or not funds were available internally. restructure the State Department¶s organizational chart to give the Under Secretary direct supervisory control over public diplomacy staff. budget and programming within the Department and at US missions abroad. (1) Recreate USIA as an independent agency with a clear mandate. when the new Secretary of State announces that her department¶s mission is ³diplomacy. Moreover. The result is bound to be confusion. Confused and Neglected Mandates Oddly enough. development and defense. We say step-child because there are also enough internal organizational complications to make a really qualified candidate hesitate to take the position.´ it¶s not clear which entity is doing what and who is responsible to whom. filling the step-child position of Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy can¶t help but be an extremely challenging head hunting operation. the two founding mandates for handling public diplomacy within the State Department were sweeping enough to have attracted the most ambitious talents: (1) The Under Secretary would be responsible for coordinating all US government public diplomacy efforts. since the Pentagon¶s wish list is always munificently funded²the military¶s strategic communications operation alone receives more.those turf-battles and unhappiness. (2) Or. plus constant turf battles with the Pentagon. at minimum. the Under Secretary would not only oversee the day-to-day operations of public diplomacy within the Department of State. What¶s more. for one thing. focus and bureaucratic infighting within the State Department. which has expanded its jurisdiction to development projects as well as public diplomacy over the past decade.Why wouldn¶t they? Who of any major caliber would want to be Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy as the position is presently constituted? Who would take a job that has become powerless by design? There are only two ways to attract top talent to lead America¶s public diplomacy efforts again. but also represent the US government on the BBG (Broadcasting Board of Governors).

If implemented. out-staffed public diplomacy efforts. using its bottomless resources to assign strategic communications teams to US Embassies. of course. The teams¶ often incompatible activities and narrow focus undermine the credibility of outspent. the Under Secretary for PD is fulfilling neither mandate. A more attractive and reasonably feasible option for reorganization is a modest reform proposal originating with figures who know public diplomacy and the State Department well. none speaking for the U. Needless to say. then. that is. The mere fact that they exist indicates that something is seriously wrong with America¶s public diplomacy picture. independent USIA was far more powerful and influential. America¶s public diplomacy voice is becoming a fragmented. Just as there is no longer one VOA speaking clearly and proudly for America. Recommendations have ranged from simply establishing a permanent seat on the National Security Council for the Under Secretary of Public Diplomacy to creating a non-governmental entity called ³USA-World Trust´ to be funded jointly by the US government and the American private sector.cooperation with the geographic bureaus. each strain speaking for some one agency or department. and the Under Secretary occupies an equally powerless slot within the tradition-bound State Department itself. the Director of the small. Once again the Pentagon is there to fill the gap. it would by statute unify control of existing State Department public diplomacy . the US would cease to have a coherent public diplomacy presence in the world at the very time when public persuasion is increasingly essential to preserving America¶s ability to influence world affairs. incoherent. the resulting organization would be one more addition to the ever proliferating ranks of ³non-governmental´ organizations receiving federal funding. let alone oversee PD-like operations in the Pentagon. and the Foreign Service is diminished by the lack of a pipeline for training an experienced cadre of public diplomacy experts. so the puny PD operation in the State Department certainly can¶t influence. Other agencies show signs of doing the same. Even without a designated seat on the National Security Council. In the latter case. What to Do? The studies and recommendations proffered (and ignored) since 9/11 are too numerous to list here. the quality of public diplomacy programs suffers. Let¶s face it. What¶s more. who often fill PD slots at embassies and consulates with unenthusiastic under-qualified or unqualified officers²when the slots aren¶t left vacant. It would lack the clout and the strong claim to international attention that¶s automatically accorded to an organization speaking as America¶s official voice. Clearly. as a whole.S. Tails don¶t wag dogs. cacophony.

the U. as religion reasserts itself as a world-changing force. it¶s hard to resist the conclusion that public diplomacy and development support should once again be housed in separate agencies. unified. needs every communications skill and device it can muster simply to maintain let alone extend its influence. of course. but the two functions. as the various regions of the world jockey for more respect and a bigger role within global decision-making bodies. which means that America¶s public diplomacy program must also have global scope. as restive or submerged ethnic groups challenge international borders and internal governance. experience to date suggests that State¶s internal fiefdoms and vested interests will continue to obstruct the emergence of an effective. Foreign aid programs. All in all. modest and sensible as this proposal may be. Now more than ever public diplomacy matters. then. In our view.staff. We can do it again. not absolutely. Bureaucratic politics can be deadly. on the other hand. influential public diplomacy operation within the Department itself. This proposal for well-defined PD consolidation is referred to in the final document of a conference held at White Oak this past winter. Isn¶t it time to reclaim the profession we invented and that others. Furthermore. programs and funds both in Washington and in missions abroad under the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy. It didn¶t last for long. are concentrated in areas with very specific needs. are simply too different to be jointly administered. Conference participants included American public diplomacy specialists as well as prominent concerned citizens. very cleverly. What it dramatically fails to do is to address the Under Secretary¶s current inability to coordinate public diplomacy efforts government-wide. the internal restructuring proposed in the White Oak document represents the bare minimum of what needs to be done. as the world is bombarded by old media and new media churning out entertainment. India and Brazil. As US economic power shrinks. but in comparison to rising economies like China.S. during the 1930s evidently. As if this obvious mismatch were not disqualification enough. so destructively absorbed into the State Department ten years ago. America¶s foreign policy encompasses the entire world. a similar marriage of development and public diplomacy was tried. as environmental and climaterelated issues claim ever greater attention and established political and economic doctrines fall increasingly under challenge. each with appropriate provisions for cooperation and coordination with the State Department. it should be noted that. Others have suggested the creation of a hybrid new civilian program agency that would house development and humanitarian assistance as well as public diplomacy operations. are copying? Why should we find ourselves beaten at our own game? . We¶ve done this before and very well. information and disinformation and as nuclear ambitions and capabilities proliferate.