Security Studies Program Seminar
Public Diplomacy and U.S. National Security Policy
Kristin M. Lord
Elliott School of International Affairs
The George Washington University
April 16, 2008
Outline of Talk
- What is public diplomacy?
- Why is it important?
- How has it evolved?
- What can it realistically accomplish?
- What are the instruments of public diplomacy?
- Who conducts public diplomacy?
- Vision for the future
1) What is public diplomacy?
- Public diplomacy is the promotion of national interests through efforts to inform, engage, and influence foreign publics.
- Not a new phenomenon, but newly important. Why? Four reasons:
- rise of global transparency;
- rise of mass politics;
- rise of global norms; and
- limits of military force.
2) Why is public diplomacy important?
- Five reasons:
- Foreign support or at least acquiescence is necessary to advance U.S. interests.
- Prefer a climate in which active support or “agreeing to disagree” is not politically impossible.
- Global challenges sometimes require cooperation with friends competitors and even enemies.
- Need to avoid creating new enemies or networks of support for enemies.
- Public diplomacy is an effective tool for achieving national security objectives.
- Achieving national security objectives is more difficult in the current climate.
- Anti-Americanism does matter.
- Rising Anti-Americans, according to the 2008 Pew global attitudes survey.
- Goal of US to weaken and divide Islam (April 24, 2007 PIPA survey).
3) What is public diplomacy for?
- “Moving the needle” is a flawed way to look at public diplomacy. Have to measure success by how U.S. interests are advanced.
4) How has public diplomacy evolved?
- Long history of ambivalence with public diplomacy (even during the Cold War). The U.S. was slow to adopt compared to other great powers.
- PD seen as a wartime necessity, abandoned in peace.
- Fluctuations in budge commitment, tactics, and philosophy.
- Strategic objectives for public diplomacy have been, historically:
- Promote support for American policies
- Promote understanding of America
- Promote positive change
- The problem? Sometimes these goals compete and domestic politics adds complexity
From Strategy to Action
- Tactics in U.S. public diplomacy:
- Maintain complex attitudes about America
- Segment audiences
- Appeal to multiple aspects of identity
- Build dense networks of relationships
- Play to strengths
- Then build programs to achieve goals.
- Public diplomacy: Not pixie dust or playing defense. Not a magic dust that you throw on policies to spruce them up. Not something that is done on the back-end of policy.
5) What are the instruments of public diplomacy?
- Ask first: what do we wish to communicate to whom, by whom, in what manner by what means?
- Once establish desired ends, choose appropriate means: exchanges, publications, websites, advertisements, broadcasting, libraries, area and culture, science diplomacy, speeches, visitor programs, video games, cherry trees.
- How do you pick tactics? Pay some more attention to data; Zobgy poll shows points of entry.
- This is harder than it seems. Four tactical challenges are:
- The “drop in the bucket” problem.
- The “who's the real audience” problem
- The security paradox problem (need to protect American people and facilities overseas, but this sends the wrong message)
- The diffuse gains/targeted costs problem
6) Who conducts public diplomacy?
- Nearly every agency of the U.S. government engages in public diplomacy. Key actors are:
- Broadcasting Board of Governors
- Intelligence Community
7) Vision for the Future
- Backed by a long-term commitment
- In support of national interest
- Considered during policy formation
- Integrated with other tools of statecraft
- Implement with tactic that a flexible, well-informed, and scientifically driven
- Reflecting an appreciation for public diplomacy's possibilities and limits
- Grounded in core values
Rapporteur: Stephanie Kaplan
back to Wednesday Seminar Series, Spring 2008