Public Diplomacy Essay

IntroductionThis essay attempts to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the conduct of public diplomacy for the conduct of foreign policy. It will be divided into four parts, the first part will discuss about the nature, definition and history of public diplomacy. The second part will elaborate the advantages of public diplomacy and continued by the third part which will state the disadvantages of public diplomacy. They also will be accompanied by examples which support the arguments stated above.

The final part of the essay will have the conclusion of this essay, which in short could be presented that Public Diplomacy is a double edge sword in it connection toward Foreign Policy, it could be a powerful tool to achieve national interest abroad if conducted in a proper way but if not it will be a boomerang to the perpetrator. It also considered a very complex concept since it needs a proper balancing act for it to achieved maximum results.BackgroundIn his book “Strategic Public Diplomacy and American Foreign Policy: The Evolution of Influence”, Manheim stated that there are four distinctive aspects of diplomatic activity: government to government, diplomat to diplomat, people to people and government to people contacts1. In this sense, he also added that public diplomacy belong to the realm from cultural exchanges to the ‘efforts by the government of one nation to influence public or elite opinion in a second nation for the purpose of turning the foreign policy of the target nation to advantages2’.Public diplomacy is not a new thing, in the Cold War, it was considered to have played an important role in containing communist doctrine and finally gave victory to democracy.

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As Leonard stated ‘During the Cold War, the United States created a robust array of cultural and intellectual instruments to spread American values behind the Iron Curtain and plead the U.S. case to nonaligned nations’3. Public diplomacy could be defined as the whole range of communication information and propaganda in order to project an image of one country to other people in different countries. In the case of the United States of America, it is one of the components of US effort to manage the emerging formation of neo-liberal Empire and one of the tools of national security4.It main purpose is to win the Heart and Mind of the people from other countries. It is not directed to the government of other country but directly toward the people themselves.

It is often considered as the link between overt and covert activities. Condoleezza Rice once said that “The victory of freedom in the Cold War was won only when the West remembered that values and security cannot be separated5” and public diplomacy would be an essential part to achieve victory in war on terror. Some experts furthermore even define public diplomacy as the broader strategy of political warfare and it is depend on credibility of the enforcer.The term ‘public diplomacy’ basically involves a range of policies and programs that are created in order to influence foreign public opinion through communication, culture and dialogue. Public diplomacy more recently reflects the increased legitimacy among policy elites of concepts like Joseph Nye’s ‘soft power’, and carries the implication that policies which manage the credibility and image of the country are necessary to sustain strategic objectives in the post-Cold War era6.

In the end, public diplomacy is tightly influenced by the rapid development of technology which has change the nature of traditional diplomacy as a whole.Advantages of Public DiplomacyThere are several advantages that public diplomacy promises if it conducted in the right way. The first is the ‘power of attraction’ of ‘soft power’ (which an advantage and a great source of power if it works well). As stated in above paragraph, public diplomacy categorized as ‘soft power’ which differ from military power. It offer a great source of power to the enforcer if is works well.

Nowadays, with the advance development of technology of communication, people are having difficulties in sorting all kind of information; here public diplomacy could act as a media that help people received accurate and comprehensive information. It is also can be used to project the image of one country which want to be presented to world.For example the United States of America always wants to be seen as the champion of democracy, the leader of the free world and the most powerful nation in the world. The US try to present itself through various means and one of that is Voice of America (VoA). It started in New York “soon after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, it was created to counter propaganda from the Axis powers”7. After the World War II, VoA served as a tool in order to contain communist influence through out the world.

It is become a “widely respected brand name, symbolizing honest international radio journalism with an American twist”8. The network still has a critical role to play in introducing American values to the rest of the world.Some might argue that as a government-funded network, the VOA should be expected always to portray U.S. policies as righteous and successful; they might even claim that, in the right hands, such propaganda could help defuse anti-Americanism abroad. But experience demonstrates that the VOA is most appreciated and effective when it functions as a model U.S.

-style news organization that presents a balanced view of domestic and international events, setting an example for how independent journalism can strengthen democracy9. After all, these are the values that the network’s charter sought to enshrine, and they are no less important today than before. Many still believe that the VOA delivered its finest performances in the midst of severe crises which needed to be addressed in a proper manner.

Public diplomacy also could “help small and medium size states to utilize Non-Government Organizations and transnational issue groups to reinforce their message in multilateral negotiations, giving such states a stronger bargaining position vis-a-vis their more powerful allies such as US and EU in a new form of two level games to advance theory diplomatic objectives”10.Fist example came from the 1990’s Gulf War. Several days prior the Iraqi attack to the state, Kuwaiti leadership in exile turn to one of the most known public relations firm to help them portrait the situation in their home country. Many efforts had been conducted such as revealing atrocities that committed by Iraqi soldiers toward Kuwaiti people after the invasion and interviews with the victims of such treatments. After spending significant amount of money, Manheim stated that Kuwaiti Leaders spent some $11.5 million11, these efforts finally provided good results for the Kuwaiti, its help shape the policy of the US in addressing the situation.In the case of Canada, public diplomacy is used as a way to receive legitimacy for the government from public opinion which in the end provided the desired outcome.

It helps government to obtain information from experts and to gain their support for policies. Its also reduce critics from the public since the government already received legitimacy from domestic and international experts and Non-Government Organizations. Recent examples include sessions on human rights, small arms proliferation, war-affected children, conflict prevention and preventative diplomacy, and Canada’s bilateral relations with other states12. Public diplomacy could reach broad segment of population, especially the young since public diplomacy mainly use television and radio as their prominent media.

So it is safe to say that public diplomacy is ‘not merely about advocating and promoting political and economic goals to the international public: it is instead about relationship building between nations and cultures through better communication13’.Disadvantages of Public DiplomacyOne main disadvantages using public diplomacy in the conduct of foreign policy is that it is very essential for the perpetrator to provide accurate, comprehensive and the correct facts since it is meant for mass audiences, it is very dangerous to say something that is not the truth. Earlier example can be seen in the case of Iraq in the aftermath of war with Iran. In an attempt to disprove the charge that Iraq had used chemical weapons against its enemy, the Iraqi government arranged for foreign journalists to visit the ground zero of the allegation took place but this effort was considered counterproductive since in the end some ‘reporters observed troop transports, loaded with Iraqi soldiers wearing gas masks’14.In the case of United States, the comparison of international support between the US invasion toward Afghanistan and Iraq is very obvious. The international community ‘accept’ the US invasion of Afghanistan as appropriate since the Taliban regime was proved supporting Al-Qaeda in the tragedy of September 11 by the harboring the alleged mastermind of the tragedy, Osama Bin Laden and other Al-Qaeda’s top leaders. In other hand, the failure of the US to find weapon of mass destruction in Iraq which used as a justification for the invasion has cost the US its image to world.

Not only it cost the US to lose its legitimacy, it also increases anti-American sentiment through out the world. In short, public diplomacy demands transparency from the enforcer. There will be no secret in conducting public diplomacy since the risk of getting caught of lying in public is enormously immense.Other expert such as Jan Melissen argues, ‘what is problematic with the approach of public diplomacy as an immediate foreign policy tool is that it exposes public diplomacy to the contradictions, discontinuities, fads and fancies of foreign policy’15.

In this case coordination is very important in the conduct of public diplomacy since it is very complex in nature.The enforcer need to consider other things that might seem not connected in the efforts of public diplomacy but in fact its play a significant role in it. For example, culture, it is extremely important for the perpetrator to create a message which is acceptable to all parts of an audience (maybe world wide). Again referring to the case of US in the Middle East, it is something near useless to force western culture and ways of thinking in a region which mainly influenced by Islamic culture that preserved a totally different and often contradict way of life in US and other western countries.There are several challenges in the conduct of public diplomacy.

One of them is that it can not provide an instant result. Public diplomacy needs sufficient time in order to give desirable outcomes. This is due to the nature of public diplomacy which aims in winning the hearts and minds of the international public. This situation lead to other challenge namely funding, even the one and only superpower left in the world, the US, considered by many experts still spent to little for the conduct of public policy. It is ‘ineffectual and under-supported’16. Other expert such as Pahlavi stated that public diplomacy tend to ‘lack the financial and technical resources, the necessary databases, and the appropriate perspectives to carry out properly a long-term evaluation of their effectiveness’17.Other challenge in the conduct of public diplomacy is that it is very dependent on the policy from the country which produced it.

When a government of one country set a controversial policy which receive criticism and disapproval from many other countries then it is very hard the enforcer to receive support, good image and cooperation from international audiences. Some experts also argued that public diplomacy can only fit in a bi-polar world such as in the Cold War situation.In the current situation, when information technology had developed through out the world, it is harder for one country to dominate the news which led to difficulties in separating domestic and international audiences. Other concern is that the other side could also use the same method which might lead to information and influence war.

Nowadays the environment is critical toward everything. Some critic also said that public diplomacy is largely serves as window dressing and has led to little real change.In its objective to reach many audiences, public diplomacy is facing skeptical view of it neutrality.

For example, Editors have repeatedly been asked to develop “positive stories” emphasizing U.S. successes in Iraq, rather than report car bombings and terrorist attacks, and they were instructed to remove from the VOA Web site photographs of abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison, even though they were already widely available elsewhere18.ConclusionThe rapid development of communication and information technology has change how to conduct diplomacy among international actor. Vickers stated that’the interaction of technological, economic, political and social changes, such as globalization, the development and rapid expansion of information and communication technologies, the increasing ability of citizens and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to access and use these technologies, and the rise of transnational and co-operative security issues, are affecting the ways in which governments conduct their diplomacy’19.It basically opened diplomacy to other actors beside nation-states which dominated diplomacy in the early years. Public diplomacy emerged as a mighty tool which many nation states turn to in conducting their foreign policy. It promises a lot of success when conducted in the suitable way.

Be that as it may, there are several concerns regarding public diplomacy which are funding and coordination among the enforcer. It considered as ‘soft power’ which mean that it is based on persuasion and communication rather than force and military power.Other characteristics that shown by public diplomacy are that it is very difficult to separated international and domestic information activities, between public and traditional diplomacy and between cultural diplomacy, marketing and news management.

This is where balancing act is needed the most to make public diplomacy works.1 Manheim, J.B., Strategic Public Diplomacy and American Foreign Policy: The Evolution of Influence, Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 3.2 Manheim, J.B., Strategic Public Diplomacy, p.

4.3 Leonard, M. ‘Diplomacy by Other Means’, Foreign Policy, No. 132. (Sep. – Oct.

, 2002), pp. 48.4 Kennedy, L and Lucas, S., ‘Enduring Freedom Public Diplomacy and US Foreign Policy’, American Quarterly, p. 310.5 Kennedy, L and Lucas, S., ‘Enduring Freedom Public Diplomacy and US Foreign Policy’, p.

309.6 Nye, J., Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics (New York: PublicAffairs, 2004)7 Ungar, S. J., “Pitch Imperfect”, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 84, No. 3, 2005. accessed at 1 Mach 2008.8 Ungar, S. J.

“Pitch Imperfect”.9 Ungar, S. J. “Pitch Imperfect”.10 Vickers, R., ‘The New Public Diplomacy: Britain and Canada Compared’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations”, 6, 2 (2004), p. 18711 Manheim J.

B., ‘Strategic Public Diplomacy ‘, p. 45.12 Vickers, R.

, ‘The New Public Diplomacy: Britain and Canada Compared’, p. 186.13 Wang, J.

, ‘Managing National Reputations and International Relations in the Global Era: Public Diplomacy Revisited’, Public Relations Review 32 (2006), p. 93.14 Manheim J.B.

Strategic Public Diplomacy , p.4215 Melissen, J. ‘The New Public Diplomacy: Between Theory and Practice’, in Jan Melissen (ed.), The New Public Diplomacy: Soft Power in International Relations (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005),p. 15.16 Hayden, C.

, ‘Arguing Public Diplomacy: The Role of Argument Formations in US Foreign Policy Rhetoric’, the Hague Journal of Diplomacy 2 (2007), p. 230.17 Pahlavi, J.

C., ‘Evaluating Public Diplomacy Programmes’, the Hague Journal of Diplomacy 2 (2007), p. 256.

18 Ungar, S. J. “Pitch Imperfect”.19 Vickers, R., ‘The New Public Diplomacy: Britain and Canada Compared’, p.182


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