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The Daily: Nelson Mandela, Public Diplomat

December 9, 2013 9:06 am by: Category: The Daily Comments Off on The Daily: Nelson Mandela, Public Diplomat A+ / A-


Our round-up of news, notes, tips, and Tweets exhibiting how public diplomacy affects the world each and every day.

P.J. Crowley says Nelson Mandela was soft power personified.

As the Cold War was ending, Professor Joe Nye at Harvard introduced the concept of soft power, the ability to attract and persuade through shared interests, culture, ideals, legitimacy and credibility. Nelson Mandela was the personification of soft power, a one-man pubic diplomacy force of nature. Mandela relentlessly pursued peace and reconciliation, had a keen understanding of his personal power of example and was not afraid to use it. As former President Bill Clinton said of Mandela at a peace conference on Burundi in Arusha, Tanzania in August 2000, “He knows there is no guarantee of success, but if you don’t try, there is a guarantee of failure. And failure is not an acceptable option.” [Take Five Blog]


Tara Sonenshine also chimes in, calling Mandela the ‘ultimate public diplomat.’

So much has been written about Nelson Mandela, but what is rarely said is that he is the epitome of public diplomacy—one of those rare individuals who understood the power of people to move nations and ideas.  Mandela was a connector, bringing people together from all walks of life—rich, poor, skilled, unskilled, men and women, athletes and artists.  He had the gift of gab and the kindness that radiated a room. [Take Five Blog]



China’s insistence on ideological oversight is constraining its art scene and the potential soft power it could create.

This conflict between artists and regulators poses a dilemma for the Chinese government. On the one hand, it wants to maintain a tight ideological grip on the arts, while also increasing its “soft power” by promoting Chinese culture overseas … Artists like Wang are anxious to see what, if anything, the arts and media reforms announced after the Communist Party Central Committee’s third plenum last month will mean for artistic expression on the mainland. Measures advanced by party leaders included lifting ownership restrictions on arts, media and publishing companies. But party officials said they would continue their strong oversight in the sector. [SCMP]


Does China’s recent refusal to renew visas for foreign reports signal that it is finished pursing soft power?

China is gradually losing interest in soft power. The Party spent much of the past decade seeking to project a more attractive and welcoming image to the world; it placed billboards in Times Square, expanded the reach of its news outlets to broadcast more of its views to Africa and Latin America, and built hospitals, roads, and soccer stadiums in developing countries. Those efforts will continue, but the leadership is signalling that it has concluded being liked is less important than simply surviving. I spent some time with a senior Chinese diplomat recently, and when I asked what motivated the threat of expulsion, the diplomat said that the Times and Bloomberg were seeking nothing short of removing the Communist Party from power, and that they must not be allowed to continue. That argument surprised me: I had expected a bland procedural defense—this was a blunt expression of fear. [New Yorker]



Moderate rebel groups in Syria are launching soft power campaigns in an effort to balance the ideological battle with radical Islamists.

In a bid to counter the growing influence in Syria of militant groups linked to al-Qa’ida, moderate rebels are launching a campaign to win the hearts and minds of civilians living in opposition-held areas. Mimicking tactics used by the Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham (Isis), an offshoot of al-Qa’ida, the Syrian opposition is to focus greater efforts on “soft power” by increasing the provision of badly needed humanitarian aid and services to areas in most need. [The Independent]


The EU and the African Union agreed to create a research partnership that focuses on food and farming in Africa.

African and European officials have agreed to work together on food, nutrition and agricultural research, with the first round of calls for research grants in this area expected next week … Focus areas for these grants are set to include: sustainably enhancing the agricultural and food chain in Africa; the role of small and family farms in food and nutrition security; and water management for sustainable agriculture and food security, the Commission said. Europe and Africa also intend to set up a “framework of enhanced coordination” by the end of 2017 to align their efforts in food and agriculture research, according to the plan laid out in ‘The Way Forward’ document. This could be based on the ERAfrica model, where 16 countries from both continents fund joint research activities. [Sci Dev Net]



The Strategic Studies Institute of the Army War College released a paper last week that assesses important questions in public diplomacy, such as how to properly evaluate programs.

In further exploring Target Audience Analysis, Tatham argues that polling is often far too subjective to be an effective indicator. Despite its common usage, as employed, polling can contradict anecdotal evidence and paint a picture that is not reflective of the reality as experienced on the ground. This contradiction is also not unique to overseas target audiences. While it is a mistake to assume that anecdotal evidence and polling should always coincide, a better understanding of the relation between the two can help paint a better picture of the factors at play in a given situation. Rather than focusing on opinion polling, Tatham believes that measures of effectiveness should be based on scientific behavioral analysis—that means quantitatively measuring actual changes in behavior. This is especially important as opinion is not necessarily an indicator of behavior—though in certain cases it can be. [American Security Project]


John Worne argues for a boost in language teaching in the UK in order to advance the country’s international reputation.

This has to mean we are missing out –- great opportunities for international trade, cultural exchange, and advancing international understanding are getting lost in translation every single day. But if we could harness and grow the UK’s linguistic wealth, we would improve our prosperity and security, as well as improving social inclusion and intercultural understanding here at home. And if that isn’t enough incentive, languages are investments for all ages, with increasing scientific evidence that learning languages improves cognition and helps ward off dementia. Everyone, at every age, is a winner if they get to learn languages. Which is important, because in a multipolar world we need to shatter once and for all our national myth that speaking English alone is enough. [CPD Blog]



Latin America is electing a record number of female legislators, and it is having a profound affect on gender issues.

The rise of Latina candidates and presidents may not be such a surprise thanks to quotas in 16 Latin American nations that have helped achieve record numbers of female lawmakers in the region. Roughly 1 in 4 legislators here is a woman. Only Scandinavia has a higher proportion. The US, by comparison, is some way behind, with women making up just 17.9 percent of the House of Representatives and 20 percent of the Senate. While critics claim quotas lead to women being elected based on sex rather than merit, proponents say they merely level the playing field. Either way, Latin America needs more decision-makers intent on remedying bleak realities for many women here. According to UN Women, 69 percent of Latin American women have been physically abused by their partners and 47 percent have been victims of sexual violence at least once. [Global Post]

Africa Union Army War College Confucius Institutes EU evaluation farming foreign press gender equality ideological battle Islamists language teaching Nelson Mandela propaganda RT Rugby World Cup state media UK
The Daily: Nelson Mandela, Public Diplomat Reviewed by on . Our round-up of news, notes, tips, and Tweets exhibiting how public diplomacy affects the world each and every day. [divide] P.J. Crowley says Nelson Mandela wa Our round-up of news, notes, tips, and Tweets exhibiting how public diplomacy affects the world each and every day. [divide] P.J. Crowley says Nelson Mandela wa Rating: 0

About Michael Ardaiolo

Michael Ardaiolo is currently a student in Syracuse University's Public Diplomacy Master's Program: M.A. in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and M.S. in Public Relations from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. In addition, he is a recovering record slinger, a Criterion Collection addict, an NBA obsessor, and a struggling student of the Korean language.
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