Our round-up of news, notes, tips and tweets exhibiting how public diplomacy affects the world each and every day.
Really good piece on how ‘hacking’ diplomacy can aid the modernization of the field and public diplomacy’s particular position as a space for innovation.
Communications technologies in particular have become central tools for the transmission of messages, to connect with communities, and to listen to citizen demands. The key to success is the effective connection of governments with the interests of citizens. A government’s relationship with citizens abroad should be independent of its diplomatic relations with those citizens’ government. Public diplomacy involves creating communities of interest with publics abroad. The demographic challenge deserves special mention: public diplomacy will not be able to exert influence if it does not adapt to online social networks where young people (comprising 45% of the world’s population) spend half of their lives. Within conventional diplomacy, it’s high time we create and define a doctrine on digital geostrategy: the protection of individual rights, neutrality of the net, the digital divide, fostering freedom of expression, and many other issues are in need of international response. That’s where the diplomats’ experience in dealing with multi-stakeholder and multilateral approach to new challenges will be critical. [CPD Blog]
Matthew Wallin says USAID’s ‘Cuban Twitter’ project doomed from the start.
With news breaking this week about USAID’s creation of a “Cuban Twitter,” it’s a perfect time to discuss the alignment of public diplomacy goals and the tools used to accomplish them. In this case, the tools, goals, concept, and the executor of the plan were all misaligned, dooming the project from the start. The premise behind the Cuban Twitter, known as ZunZuneo, was to create an SMS (text message) based social network for Cuba, and build up a substantial user base by encouraging signups with innocuous, non-political messages. Eventually, after the network reached a large enough size, political messages could be introduced in order to call for street-protests and Arab Spring-style demonstrations against the Cuban government. Unfortunately, this premise was based on false assumptions, and was bound to fail for several reasons. [American Security Project]
The Public Diplomacy Council also points out that the covert project wasn’t public diplomacy, either.
The U.S. Agency for International Development has confirmed that it set up a text messaging service in Cuba under false pretenses. The Associated Press broke the story earlier this week. USAID used “shell companies” to create a cellphone text messaging service that would deliver infotainment to attract an audience of young Cubans, and at a later stage, use the network to promote political activism. The project attracted 40 thousand subscribers before USAID abandoned it in 2012, according to news accounts. Clever public diplomacy? No. For two reasons. [Public Diplomacy Council]
Excellent piece by @lolzlita on the propaganda war in Ukraine #softpower http://t.co/9KjdDg6Xwn
— Eytan Sosnovich (@EytanSosnovich) April 4, 2014
Interesting analysis of the MH370 tragedy in terms of China’s current soft power limitations.
Unless Beijing is concealing its true capabilities — something unimaginable in such circumstances — regional countries would still turn to the West, if not always, for leadership, at least for its technical competence and know-how, even on territory that China claims. According to David Shambaugh at the Elliot School of International Affairs, China currently remains a “partial power” despite its global ambitions. Its international behaviour remains fraught with inconsistencies which will continue to play out on the world stage and its brand of soft power is insufficiently attractive. Given this, regional countries will continue to align themselves with China on their terms, and not on Beijing’s. [New Straits Times]
Tara Sonenshine goes as far as to say that it is a case study on how to NOT conduct public diplomacy.
Malaysian Flight 370—specifically how the Malaysian government has handled the crisis to date—shows the negative side of public diplomacy, and reminds us why crisis communications matters. From the moment the airplane disappeared from radar in the early morning hours of March 8, , the government in Kuala Lumpur faced a challenging task of communicating with its own citizens and citizens overseas. With passengers from a dozen countries on board—most of them Chinese—the public diplomacy assignment required careful, consistent, and credible information sharing. That never happened. The result was conflicting stories, shifting narratives, and an overall picture of confusion. Now it will be difficult for the Malaysians to re-establish credibility. [Take Five Blog]
“‘Russification’ of ‘Soft Power’ — Part 1: #Russia‘s view of #softpower as #hegemony” - Global Chaos [new post] http://t.co/6bc9YQ2grz
— Lena O (@LenaOsipova) April 3, 2014
Good read by an Ethiopian diplomat on the growing use of public diplomacy in Ethio-Sudanese relations.
The contemporary media-saturated system of international politics needs wider public involvement in regional and global affairs to advance the desired goals of shared interests. Superseding traditional diplomacy, with ambassadors and politicians negotiating in dark corners, a new public approach to diplomacy has come to the fore, placing transparency at the center of affairs in attempts to communicate foreign policy goals and objectives, cultures, histories, traditions and values. The objective is to win the hearts and minds of both publics through discussions of ideas, the results will provide for a continuous development of friendly partnerships. It is in this sense that Ethiopia and Sudan have recently embarked on the process of sharing and communicating all-round ideas and publicizing their ties, in effect positioning two friendly peoples at the epicenter of their diplomacy. [The Reporter]
China is using a proposal dubbed the “Economic Silk Road” as an economic diplomacy device linking it with Germany.
Using the role of Duisburg as the world’s largest inland harbor, an historic transportation hub of Europe and of Germany’s Ruhr steel industry center, he proposed that Germany and China cooperate on building a new “economic Silk Road” linking China and Europe. The implications for economic growth across Eurasia are staggering. In his remarks, accompanied by German Economics Minister Sigmund Gabriel and local politicians, Xi stressed that Germany and China were the two economic locomotives at either end of that Silk Road and, by cooperating on a shared vision of rail and other infrastructure, could being entire new economic areas into being along the route. [Press TV]
I think we can squeeze this into a public diplomacy context. (By the way, listen to Masha Gessen expertly explain the entire Pussy Riot story if you are unclear of its origins and consequences.)
Great to meet the strong & brave young women from #PussyRiot, who refuse to let their voices be silenced in #Russia. pic.twitter.com/7JVkZ9TYx3
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) April 4, 2014
Interesting to read about how well public diplomacy scholarship is holding ground at the International Studies Association conference.
My overwhelming impression from the conference is that we as a community face a number of important challenges. The first is that PD and soft power are still not recognized as useful concepts by many international relations scholars. One description I heard on a number of occasions was that PD is “epiphenomenal;” that is to say, merely a symptom or by-product of foreign relations. This is, of course, entirely inaccurate and there is strong evidence to suggest that PD is an integral tool of foreign policy that sits alongside – rather than downstream of – the other tools. It most certainly can act as a driving force in foreign policy, and is more than simply press releases and propaganda. The challenge of bringing PD into the IR mainstream seems to be about establishing its value within existing IR paradigms – realism, constructivism, critical theory etc – without stating that it belongs to one of them exclusively. A number of PD scholars presented papers that hinted at ways of approaching this problem, and I think we can expect some more confident steps forward in this regard over the coming year. [CPD Blog]
What does this say for #publicdiplomacy? RT @AJEnglish: FIFA is not the UN’ says #FIFA Secreatry general | http://t.co/hqZAhRiiE7
— stacyi (@stacyi) April 6, 2014
photo credit: CPD Blog