Monday, March 18, 2013

A quote on Cultural Diplomacy

Not that I didn't have enough to do... but well, next month the International Studies Association (ISA) will be holding its Annual Convention, again, and as a good aspiring academic I have two paper presentations and a panel to prepare for. So, while everything else is put on hold, I'm now frantically doing last-minute brush-ups (all right, and last-minute writing) on issues that, among other things, include cultural diplomacy research.

While looking for more articles on the subject today, I came across this piece by Helena Finn, published 10 years ago in Foreign Affairs: "The Case for Cultural Diplomacy: Engaging Foreign Audiences". Here's, then, the quote du jour:

During the 1990s, an isolationist Congress, its understanding of the world singularly unsuited to the new realities of American power, challenged the idea that the United States should disseminate information through educational and cultural exchange. Foreign Service positions were cut, leaving many embassies with skeletal public-diplomacy staffs. American Centers, crucial organs of local outreach, shut their doors. The general sentiment in Washington was that the United States could afford to get out of the business of person-to-person interaction: in an age of mass electronic communication, so the thinking went, technology could do it all. ‘What do we need diplomats for?’ asked Ross Perot. ‘Just send a fax.’

10 years ago! Now, it would be a tweet. Or even better -- a drone!

So much has changed since, especially in terms of the American understanding of the importance of public diplomacy... or has it? Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sonenshine on Global Outreach

I just opened YouTube and among the suggested videos (creepy -- I know), I saw this short segment from an interview which Voice of America had just uploaded on their channel. In that interview, Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy Tara Sonenshine is talking about how new information and communication technologies are helping the work of US public diplomacy and giving it the opportunity to "trump everything" in other countries. Well, OK, she is referring specifically to repressive governments and regimes - she even names a couple - but still, it's pretty amazing to see the Undersecretary herself making such blunt statements.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ah, branding...

I don't have anything particularly "new" to discuss in this post, but in the past couple of days I kept stumbling upon a "story", so I thought it would be a good excuse to break the silence on Global Chaos, even if briefly. I just wanted to share a couple of interesting videos and pictures, which I probably should have done way earlier...

So, on Sunday, The Washington Post ran a story on its home page about Brand USA, the public-private partnership aimed at promoting the US on the international travel market, i.e. it was charged with branding the country. Here's a little snippet of that effort's "Discover America" campaign: