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End of the Semester Reflections

by mflash16

For this last blog post, I want to reflect on what I’ve learned over the course of this semester, and how I think I can apply it to my (hopefully) career as a lawyer. Walking into this class, I had no idea what public diplomacy meant, or that social media was something more than a way to share cute pictures and recipes. However, after seeing how the effective use of tools like Twitter and Facebook can be used to help start a revolution, spark discussion, and disseminate critical information, I find my self looking more and more for relevant blog posts and actually used twitter as a way to follow public opinion during the election. While I will never be a “twitterite,” I no longer think of social media as something that is outside the realm of my interest.
Furthermore, I realized just how much I had learnt in researching my final paper for this class, I was astounded to find just how little the legal community valued the use of social media as a tool of promoting justice and accountability. Perhaps because we spend so much time learning to carefully select each and every word, conscious of legal ramifications of a misspeak later on, that we miss opportunities to engage and argue our case in the twitter courtroom. Worse than the Department of State twitter approval chain of command is the complete ignorance and lack of interest present at the ICC today because it hampers the Court’s ability to refute criticisms, in part because they are completely unaware of the changing dynamics and interests groups who have a grouping power to effect social change, and limit or increase the Courts ability to function in conflict situations.
Law and Twitter might be an unlikely match, and just as I struggled to accept the seriousness of a tweet, twitter users will have to bare with us lawyers as we learn to turn 3 thousand page judgments in to 160 characters or less. But I think the end result will be worth it. International Justice for the crimes under the jurisdiction of the ICC is justice crimes that affect us all and there is a need to explain and demonstrate how the ICC helps bring accountability and end impunity for these crimes. The more communities and countries understand how the Court functions, the better it will be able to function as a forum for truth and justice.

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The Necessity of Higher Education in Public Diplomacy

by mflash16

In his article, Public Diplomacy Scholars and Practitioners: Thoughts for an Ongoing Conversation, Bruce Gregory described how “[w]rong ideas can ruin lives, and useless ideas “can waste precious resources.”” For me, this state captures the most daunting of the obstacles facing Public Diplomacy Officers. And one such decision/resource is education and training. I was surprised when Gregory articulated the State Department’s lack of push for hire education among diplomats. Perhaps it is because my only exposure to PD is through higher education, but it seems to me that an acute understanding of the scholarly work on PD, such as issues in evaluation, best practices, etc., is critical to all potential PD Officers because it forces a broader conversation about PD that expands a practitioner’s knowledge beyond their own personal experience. Much like how social media creates a platform for a wider discussion on trending news topics and current culture, the network of academia creates a platform for a deeper and more nuanced understanding of PD.
And without higher education, who could a PD Officer know what practitioners who went before them consider to be, “necessary skills”? As Scott discusses, the necessary skills for a PD officer are, “(1) a mastery of language and rhetoric, (2) an aptitude for narrative…, and (3) a heightened awareness of the elements that contribute to allegiance.” While all of these things may appear to be common sense, parsing them out to precise skills and aptitudes requires not only the training to recognize what the included skills are, but also learning the actual skills. I would argue that high education allows a PD Officer to recognize the necessary skills and on-the ground training provides them.

Cultural Diplomacy: It’s not about high and low

by mistertunde

Among all of our reading this week, I found the Cull article the most informative and insightful.  The meaning of cultural diplomacy is kind of self-explanatory since it’s implied in its name, but Cull’s breakdown of cultural diplomacy into four categories really refined the concept for me.

In fact, I think his piece is helpful for all of us, especially in the wake of our discussion about the wisdom of using high or low art for cultural diplomacy programs.  I know that I was truly torn!  Sometimes I consider myself a culture vulture (yes, I know how awfully pretentious that sounds) – I’ll be all about the latest art house movie playing at E Street Cinema or listening to some seeing some fancy show at Kennedy Center (fyi – I have a hookup – not buying tickets on my student budget!).

But that just sometimes, I’m perfectly happy enjoying the latest blockbuster or tuning into TLC so I can follow the adventures of Honey Boo Boo Child.  In other words, there’s a time and a place for everything; I embrace the highs and lows of American culture.  In fact, the highs and lows are what I think make American culture so dynamic.  In any case, Cull show us that cultural diplomats don’t have to be so strict in what they choose to represent American culture.

While I’m certain that Professor Cull would not advocate highlighting Honey Boo Boo, he did say that “the best contributions to cultural diplomacy tick one or more of these boxes and the truly remarkable programs may be considered to operate under all of them.”  For Cull, it’s not a matter of high vs. low; instead ideal cultural diplomacy programs presents what we consider our best (the prestige gift), what we think needs more attention (cultural information), what we think brings people together (dialogue and collaboration), and “capacity building.”

I think Cull has the right approach that future American cultural diplomacy makers should keep in mind.  I also think he’s a Brit, otherwise I’d suggest the State Department hire him for a position.

Birth of a PDO

by ckilbyus

Challenges and opportunities face practitioners of public diplomacy, but I would like to highlight a few by exploring the “birth” of a fictional Public Diplomacy Officer, Tom.

Educational Opportunities

Tom earned a BA, and started his first job. While doing clerical work for a government contractor, Tom’s boss Dick assigned him and his coworker, Harry, to write blogs and post information to the office’s social media account. Tom really enjoyed this and thought back to his studies in international relations and suddenly a lightning bolt of clarity struck him. Here he was doing Public Diplomacy on a government contract. Of course! Tom’s life calling was to become a PDO. Everything suddenly made sense to him. Tom went to Google and found – yes! There were master’s programs in public diplomacy out there. Tom attended USC. Tom was thrilled with the recent educational opportunities.

Starting a Career

After graduating with an MA in PD, he saw that there were many jobs in the private sector. Yet, Tom did not want those jobs! Tom wanted to represent his country overseas and engage international audiences. After taking the Foreign Service Officer’s Test and writing his personal narratives, Tom waited for a response. Months later, the State Department informed him that he made it on to the Oral Assessment. He passed that as well and was selected! Ten months of security clearances later, Tom counted himself lucky to have made it all the way. Thank God, Tom thought, he had found a job in the interim. Tom’s friend Sally had also earned an MA in PD at USC, and passed the Oral Assessment. However, during the long process Sally accepted a more attractive job in the private sector. It was the Foreign Service’s loss.

Tom’s First Assignment

While fluent in Russian and a bit of a VKontakte junkie (Facebook clone) from his time in Moscow, the State Department decided that his country would need Tom in Erehwon. For the next two years, both Erehwonese and numerous local languages challenged Tom. He hardly had the free time to learn them, and his Russian skills were fading fast.

On arrival, Tom’s supervisors informed him that U.S. Embassy Erehwon had no funding for public diplomacy. The last PD officer had neglected to work it into the budget. That officer had moved on to his next post, and this was Tom’s problem now. Unfortunately, since budget requests were on a two-year cycle, all Tom could do about this was to argue for PD funding in the next budget – in the hopes that it would help the PDO after Tom. While challenged by this, Tom took advantage of the opportunity presented by an innovation fund. This provided him with the funding he needed to form the very first Erehwonese youth Baseball league.

Luckily, free social media opportunities were also abound! Tom was excited to present and defend narratives and engage the local populace in real time on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr (and their international equivalents). However, Tom found much of his time went into emails back and forth to Washington to receive approval for every written word. By the time Tom was able to post a reply tweet, the debate was already over. In time, Tom created public private partnerships to fund PD programming, became acquainted with the local reporters, and even pulled his skills in the national language enough to lighten up his presentations with a joke or two. By then though, Tom’s time was up and he would have to move on to the next post, language, and media environment.

Innovating with Less

by marcrambeau

It is clear that contemporary public diplomacy practitioners face a number of challenges from several fronts—both traditional and unconventional. However, the rise of new ways of conceptualizing and approaching public diplomacy also offers a wealth of opportunities.

The first—and arguably most obstructive—challenge is one that has vexed public diplomats for ages, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future: budgets. We find ourselves today in a peculiar position on this point: policymakers and the public increasingly see the value of public diplomacy after the events of the last decade, at the same time budgets have tightened in governments around the world. The challenge for practitioners, then, is to figure out a way to “do more with less.”

With increased public and governmental scrutiny also comes a need for a much greater focus on effective monitoring, evaluation, and overall measurement of the achievements of public diplomacy programs. While the effects of PD programs are often long-term and hard to quantify, practitioners absolutely must be able to “make the case” for their continued existence.

The need to “do more with less” has made innovation an exceedingly valuable quality. It is doubly important thanks to another great challenge facing practitioners, which also happens to be their greatest opportunity: the rise of new media. New media have made Phil Seib’s notion of “real-time diplomacy” a reality, and practitioners must have the courage to pioneer adaptation in outmoded or insufficient organizational cultures and institutions. However, this disruption presents a rare opportunity to produce lasting change.

Public Diplomacy Moving Forward

by mistertunde

Thinking about the challenges that face public diplomats, one of the first things that come to mind are the attacks that occurred at American embassies in the wake of that weird Anti-muslim video released in September.  The situation represents a Catch-22 in many way.  The angry protestors kind of represent the audience that PD should be trying the hardest to reach; unfortunately, engaging more directly in difficult areas may pose a physical risk to a diplomat.  American embassies can sometimes come across as fortresses – I remember this feeling from many years ago when I was an intern at the American embassy in London. I think we’ve learned throughtout this semester that effective public diplomacy can’t only take place behind embassy walls.

The idea of public diplomacy as more of a two-way street is contnue in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office report, where Professor Nick Cull states that one of the important lessons for public diplomacy is that is “begins with listening.”  That obviously can’t happen if diplomats don’t actually get out there, but Cull also makes sure to mention that listening for listening sake is not the answer either.  After all, the “listening tour” that former US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes did not work out so well becauseit unsurprisingly turned out that the audiences that Ms. Hughes was listening to found it patronizing that the concerns they raised were not addressed in a meaningful way.

I think the other challenge to public diplomacy is just finding ways to do it with less money when there seems to be a wave of austerity sweeping across many countries during these uncertain economic times.  It’s very likely that public diplomacy practioners are going to have to learn to do more with less while simultanesouly demostrating value and keeping standards high – quite a tall order!

-Tunde

Nation Branding as a debate over Self-Identity?

by mflash16

Nation Branding is an interesting concept, and I think it is one that inherently violates the Smith-Mundt Act. Please indulge me while I go on a slightly political ramble, but given the past weeks events, I hope you’ll understand. Using America as an example, I think you could safely say that we have been engaged in nation branding since we wrote the Declaration of Independence, declaring our values and self-identity with world, and in doing so, reediting what a nation could be. Along with the French, America was one of the first nations to brand itself by a national identity rather than an identity that was completely tied to a Monarchy. I don’t think anyone would define the Revolutionary War as an act of nation branding, but that is in fact what is was.
In the 1800s, America defined itself as “The New Frontier.” There was a growing national sense of “the land of opportunity” and the “American Dream” of owning your own farm etc. That notion was just as powerful and convincing for Americans as it was for foreigners, evidenced by the waive of immigrants from Europe seeking the “golden land” AND the waive of American immigrants from the east coast to the west coast, similarly seeking a “golden land” quiet literally in the California gold rush.
If you will forgive me for skipping 100 years of history, similar conclusions can be drawn from the Cold War where both Americans and foreigners defined American as the anti-Red, shinning example of Capitalism. But for the first time, defining America as the remedy to communism was an intensional campaign on the part of the State Department. And it was clearly successful but I think one of the reasons it was so successful was that the American population was so unanimously behind the concept that PD officers had little trouble convincing foreigners.
Today, we are struggling to define ourselves and explain our actions to the world, and I think that one of the reasons is that we have not settled on a brand that all, or at least a majority of American’s can agree on. Should we or shouldn’t we act as a global police force? Do we stand for a growing acceptance of government obligations to its people through social welfare programs or should we stick to a small government. The US presidential debates were broadcasted and tweeted throughout the world and probably had a bigger impact on our nation brand than a lot of State Dept. programs. Therefore, I think that we cannot successfully brand ourselves until we recognize that Public Diplomacy is no longer something we can pick up and leave at the boarder, it is a very internalized process and as politics becomes more and more a tool of propaganda, not only for voters but for foreign audiences as well, I think we can safely conclude that we are engaged in a massive propaganda campaign – but w just aren’t sure what we are advertising for yet.

Distinguishing Nation Branding from PD

by ckilbyus

Place and nation branding, public diplomacy, and national image promotion have a lot of overlap. For example, Gryorgy Szondi in “Public Diplomacy and Nation Branding: Conceptual Similarities and Differences,” used a Venn diagram to show these two fields overlapping at culture, identity, image, and values. The subject of nation branding in the U.S. may seem like a bit of a foreign concept. While the imaging aspects have the familiar attributes of an ad campaign, when looking at foreign nation branding it looks a little like propaganda. Foreign countries do not have to live with Smith Mundt and can engage broad self-imaging efforts. Additionally, nation branding is a simpler concept to grasp and open to simplifying explanations. A good example is Simon Anholt’s Nation Branding hexagon.

A key way to distinguish it from public diplomacy is that people other than government officers often do nation branding. Examples from Szondi included the Serbian Institute of Public Diplomacy, and the German Association for Place Branding and Public Diplomacy (Szondi). Both have PD in the name, but focus heavily on nation branding. Numerous consulting companies and freelance agents also do nation branding.

The in-class presentation on Korea’s nation branding efforts made it clear that small countries can especially stand to benefit, and while state directed, there are many different players. Strategic self-representation is important for Korea as it tries to assert its unique identity, and distinguish itself from China and Japan. Korea’s campaign consistency was admirable, such as the prolific display of the Yin Yang, as was the energetic promotion of Korean values, as through Tae Kwon Do and KORUS House. The Korea Foundation especially succeeds in incorporating many different voices. Additionally, even a small country has a diaspora that it can reach out to, as in KORUS House programs that use local volunteers for Korean language programs. As Korea has demonstrated, nation branding is a public diplomacy activity that can engage a broad number of players and be effective in establishing a national identity.

How Did We Get Here?

by marcrambeau

As Kavaratzis and Ashworth note in their article, “Place Marketing: How Did We Get Here and Where Are We Going?”, the idea of “place branding”—the application of corporate marketing principles to geographic locations such as cities, states, regions and even countries—is not a really a new concept. The notion as we understand it today is simply the latest development in a series of phases. Because of its unusual straddling of the business and government realms, “place marketing has been shaped by developments in marketing science and cognate disciplines but also by the external historical contexts.”

Kavaratzis and Ashworth point out seven limitations or challenges facing the field. The first is the need for practitioners to fully understand the concept before engaging in place branding efforts; the second, the need for “wide cooperation.” The pair also points out that place branding has historically put too much emphasis on tourism development, and should expand into other relevant fields. These recommendations appear to track the expansion of public diplomacy from one-way communication to dialogue, from messaging to listening. Evidently, while place branding and public diplomacy are not necessarily the same, they face many of the same predicaments thanks to changes in the international environment.

Portmanteau needed for Nation-Branding and Public Diplomacy

by mistertunde

Sometimes I’ll get myself into trouble discussing public diplomacy and nation-branding because I’ll sometimes start using the terms interchangeably.  I think it’s somwhat undestandable to conflate nation-branding with public diplomacy since both dsiciplines are aimed at moving foreign publics.  I also think it’s entirely possible for thedsiciplines too become even more closely intertwined than they already are.  Rather than their target audiences, which I think are very similary, I think the areas which provide the most contrast between place branding and public diplomacy are th actual praciticioners of the respective disciplines and the techniques they use.

In terms of the actors/stakeholders,  the involvement of government officials is much more pronounced and direct when in it comes to public diplomacy.  Whether it’s providing the funding for an organization like NCIV or diplomats in the field in engaging directly with foreign audiences, the goverment has a more direct role to play in making public diplomacy happen.  That dynamic is doesn’t seem to be mandatory for the examples of nation-branding that we discussed in class.

An illuminating point raised for me in the Gyorgy Szondi piece is the connection between public diplomacy and conflict.  According to Szondin, all of the major turning points in the development of American public diplomacy centered around conflict,  the end of the Cold War and September 11th being the most recent examples of this dynamic.  This observation fits into the personal sense I have that more is at stake for public diplomacy.  If public diplomacy is done well I think it has the potential positively affect people’s lives.  I’ve heard stories about participants in the State Department’s Internatioanl Visitor Leadership Program who’ve made connections and learned lessons here in the US that continually pay dividends after the program  I don’t get that same sense when I think about nation-branding.  For example, Great Britain has been engaging in what I consider pretty agressive nation branding during and in the aftermath of the London Summer Olympics.  If their campaign is succesful and perhaps increases tourism or international development, the main benefiiciaries will mostly be people in the United Kingom.  That’s not a knock from me against nation branding (because I actually find the pracitce quite interesting), but I do find it is a more transactional than public diplomacy (which I don’t think is completely altruistic either).