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Short History of U.S. Public Diplomacy


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Short History of U.S. Public Diplomacy

  1. 1. A Short History ofU.S. Public DiplomacyTim Standaert, Deputy Cultural Attaché U.S. Embassy Kyiv, Ukraine June 2011
  2. 2. Public Diplomacy• The attempt by one country’s government by communicating and interacting directly with audiences – academics, NGOs, businesses, institutions, and even the general public - in one or more foreign nations in order to promote/protect its national interests and/or serve the mutual interests of both sides.• The aim of a country’s Public Diplomacy is to: 1) influence how foreign citizens perceive that country; 2) correct misperceptions about the nation’s policies and values; 3) promote greater mutual understanding; 4) and (perhaps) impact official relations with the foreign government in a way that serves the country’s national interests.
  3. 3. Public Diplomacy Three DimensionsAccording to JosephNye, author of SoftPower, there are 3dimensions to PD• Daily communications: explaining decisions and policies to the media, the public, elites, etc.
  4. 4. Public Diplomacy Three Dimensions• Strategic communications: focus on simple themes, with symbolic events and activities planned over the year, at times relying on individuals and groups outside government.
  5. 5. Public Diplomacy Three Dimensions• Lasting relationships: With key individuals, institutions, and organizations, through exchanges, conferences, seminars, etc.
  6. 6. U.S. Public DiplomacyEmbassy Country Team
  7. 7. U.S. Public Diplomacy: Some Basic Questions• What is the aim of Public Diplomacy? Is it simply propaganda, or something else?• To what extent can the U.S. Government really influence foreign publics?• If we “tell America’s story,” if we clearly explain US policies, society, and values, will our relations improve with other people? How does that help better protect our nation’s interests?
  8. 8. U.S. Public Diplomacy: Continuing debates/tensions/questions• Should the U.S. Government (USG) be funding cultural diplomacy at all? If so, how much of the taxpayer’s money should be spent on it?• Can/should Public Diplomacy help us promote our national interests?• Does Public Diplomacy – both the information and cultural sides – belong under the U.S. State Department? Or should an independent agency, like the U.S. Information Agency, be brought back to manage these activities?• What share of Public Diplomacy is should be carried out by foundations, educational institutions (public and private), and other non-governmental partners?• Is information more important than cultural programming, e.g., exchange programs, libraries, etc?• Should the USG aim for the elite in foreign countries, or the average citizen/broad masses?• How do you coordinate the Public Diplomacy of various government agencies, e.g., State, USAID, Peace Corps, U.S. military, etc? How do you also involve academia, cultural institutions, NGOs, business, etc?• How does new technology influence Public Diplomacy?• How do you measure the effectiveness of Public Diplomacy? What are the metrics?
  9. 9. Soft Power• Term coined by Joseph Nye, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense, Dean of Kennedy School of Government (Harvard University), etc. – Watch Nye’s TED talk on global shift in power at: ml• Definition: The ability of a country or organization to shape the preferences of others, i.e., to get them to behave in a way that supports interests, without overt tangible benefits coming to them, i.e., without threats (sticks) or payments/inducements (carrots).
  10. 10. Soft Power• Three vehicles: According to Nye, Soft power rests largely on: a country’s or organization’s culture (high and low); its political values; and its foreign policy.
  11. 11. Soft Power Africa and HIV/AIDS• Presidents Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR): Bush commited $15 billion over five years (2003– 2008, much of it going to Africa.
  12. 12. Soft Power Audience• Soft power depends on the existence of willing interpreters and receivers in a country or in group.
  13. 13. Soft Power Beyond Government’s Control• The central government, at least in liberal, democratic countries, cannot (and should not) control all levers of soft power, e.g., television, movies, music, sports, products, companies/firms, groups and individual citizens, etc.• These other agents can have a positive or negative impact on a country’s soft power.
  14. 14. Soft Power
  15. 15. Soft Power Negative impact of Bhopal•A subsidiary of Union Carbide was operating apesticide plant in Bhopal, India.•On night of December 2-3, 1984, a leak of gasand chemicals from the plant killed perhaps3000 within the first week and 8000 moresince, plus over 550000 injuries, includingalmost 40000 temporary or partially disablingand almost 4000 severely and permanentlydisabling.•8 ex-employees were convicted in 2010.
  16. 16. U.S. Public Diplomacy: Some historical background• French Revolution: Appealing directly to foreign publics to promote a revolutionary ideology.• 1883: France creates Alliance Francaise in wake of defeat during Franco-Prussian War to repair national prestige, promote French language and literature.• Italy and Germany soon follow suit.
  17. 17. Early U.S. Public Diplomacy (Exchanges): Boxer Rebellion Indemnity Scholars•1900 Boxer Uprising in China•Qing Empire defeated, fined $333million.•U.S. share of indemnity: 7.32% (plusinterest)•U.S. “Open Door” Policy towardChina – general opposition to“spheres of interest”•U.S. sets up program in 1909 usingindemnity funds for education.
  18. 18. Early U.S. Public Diplomacy: Boxer Rebellion Indemnity Scholars•In China: •1909-1929: 1300 Chinese students prepared to study at American universities, most at Tsinghua College, established in Beijing in 1911. •1929: Tsinghua College expanded into a university, with 4-year undergraduate and post- graduate school.•In America: •1926: China Foundation (later the China Institute) founded in New York. 5 groups of scholars educated in U.S. before 1937 Japanese invasion of China.
  19. 19. Early Public Diplomacy: Boxer Rebellion Indemnity Scholars•Graduates: •philosopher Hu Shih (later Chinese ambassador to US); •physicist Chen Ning Yang (Nobel Prize-winner; •mathematician Kai Lai Chung; •linguist Yen Ren Chao; •rocket scientist Tsien Hsue-shen.•UK, France, Japan later follow suit,set up similar programs.•Boxer Rebellion Indemnity ScholarsProgram became model for FulbrightProgram (established in 1946).
  20. 20. First World War:Committee on Public Information (CPI)• One week after U.S. enters war in April 1917, President Woodrow Wilson creates the CPI (Executive Order 2594).• CPI headed by George Creel, editor of The Rocky Mountain News.• News articles, movies, lectures, posters, signboards, wireless cable service, foreign press bureaus, film division, leaflet- filled balloons.• Propaganda? Psychological warfare? Honest attempt to counter German disinformation?
  21. 21. First World War:Committee on Public Information (CPI)• One week after U.S. enters war in April 1917, President Woodrow Wilson creates the CPI (Executive Order 2594).• Main purpose: build U.S. public support for the war. But also had offices in 9 foreign countries.• CPI headed by George Creel, editor of The Rocky Mountain News. Over 20 divisions and bureaus.• News Division: Official Bulletin, an 8-pages (later 32 page) paper, with positive news, distributed to all US newspapers, post offices, government offices, military bases.
  22. 22. First World War:Committee on Public Information (CPI)• Films Division: Three feature- length films released.• Division of Pictorial Publicity: posters.• Other activities: lectures, signboards, leaflet-filled balloons.• Propaganda? (Creel said no.) Psychological warfare? Honest attempt to counter German disinformation?• CPI ends domestic work with Armistice in November 1918, Congress ends funding for foreign operations in June 1919, formally abolished by Wilson in August 1919.
  23. 23. Franklin Roosevelt, the Good Neighbor Policy, and Internationalism•Uneasy relations with Latin Americabefore FDR – neglect, exploitation, and/orintervention: War with Mexico (1848),business deals, Panama Canal, etc.•Good Neighbor Policy •FDR’s speech at Pan American Union (1933): need for mutual understanding •Montevideo Inter-American Conference (1933): Announcement of lower tariffs, plans to establish cultural exchanges. (Buenos Aires 1936, Lima 1938.)
  24. 24. Franklin Roosevelt, the Good Neighbor Policy, and Internationalism•By 1937, U.S. (and Britain and France)aware of threat German and Italianpropaganda and cultural diplomacy•US State Department sets up Division ofCultural Relations in 1938 to promoteexchanges, English language study, set uplibraries and reading rooms, translatebooks, provide, technical assistance, etc.•But Congress still does not want to fundfully…
  25. 25. Second World War:Coordinator for Inter-American Affairs• August 1940 (before US entry into WW2), FDR names millionaire Nelson A. Rockefeller to position. Committed to art and education.• Responsibilities: Coordinate cultural and commercial relations with Latin America.
  26. 26. Second World War:Coordinator for Inter-American Affairs• Rockefeller’s contributions: – Promotion of American high culture, including modern art (though very controversial Washington!) – Position portrayal of Latinos in Disney movies, e.g., Saludos Amigos, Three Caballeros – Assistance to Mexico’s railroad industry• But also mixed in business, propaganda (paying for placement of positive stories in newspapers), and intelligence- collecting. (Bad mix.)
  27. 27. Second World War: Office of War Information (OWI)• 6 months after Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) establishes Office of War Information (OWI).• OWI’s goal: Explain US policy to domestic and foreign audiences, public and media through movies, leaflets, magazines, and RADIO. – Soviets had begun radio broadcasts in 1926. – Germany, Japan, Britain, Holland follow suit. – “Voice of America” (VOA) inaugurated July 1942.
  28. 28. End of Second World War Fulbright Exchange Program• Sen. William Fulbright (Democrat – Arkansas)• Himself a Rhodes Scholar• 1946: Sponsored legislation to begin exchange programs.• 1992: Fulbright Program launched in independent Ukraine: – Over 700 Ukrainians graduate students, young faculty, and scholars have take part in last 19 years. – Over 400 American graduate students and scholars have come to Ukraine.
  29. 29. Cold War• Rivalry between USSR and U.S./West in many areas, including Public Diplomacy• Information: Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty• Libraries, books, etc• Obstacles/challenges for U.S.: – racism/segregation – McCarthyism/Red Scare
  30. 30. Cold War American Exhibit at Sokolniki in Moscow• Soviet exhibit in New York City (June 1959)• American exhibit at Sokolniki in Moscow (July 1959)• YouTube video on Nixon-Khrushchev "Kitchen Debate” (GWU)• "Nixon, Khrushchev And A Story Of Cold War Love” (NPR)
  31. 31. Cold War1959 American Exhibit at Sokolniki in Moscow
  32. 32. Jazz Diplomacy• Promote better understanding of American society, including musical heritage.• Part of bilateral cultural exchanges with Soviet Union and other nations.• Also helps U.S. combat “image” problem with racism and segregation.• Parallel developments: Cold War, Jazz Diplomacy, U.S. Civil Rights Movement.
  33. 33. Jazz DiplomacyCold War and Today
  34. 34. Cold WarRadio, Magazines, Publications
  35. 35. Peace Corps (PC)• Peace Corps in Ukraine – http://ukraine.peacecorps.go v/projects.php – Largest PC program in the world – 3 areas of activity: • Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) • Community Development (CD) • Youth Development (YD) Peace Corps – PC Volunteer (PCV) website:
  36. 36. USAID
  37. 37. Other Cultural Diplomacy
  38. 38. Cold WarLibaries, Reading Rooms, Books
  39. 39. Exchange Programs
  40. 40. Other Programs