Sunday, November 28, 2010

Public Diplomacy: Forming our Image

Part of James Glassman's description of PD 2.0 was centered around the use of new technologies, but also to use this new technology in a capacity that was more attuned to welcoming the voices of those countries with whom we aspire to build diplomatic relations. Listening and building conversation should undoubtedly be a focal point of a new public diplomacy, especially one that has an online presence. Merely participating in online forums, contributing to a blog, or making a comment on Twitter is a steps towards creating a more inclusive and participatory enviroment that is attractive to those looking at the US. I do wonder if as Glassman says, the 'gentle informing' of the State Dept. Digital Outreach Team is as welcomed as he makes it seem-but it is regardless, a step in the right direction.

How then does PD 2.0 fit into Jospeh Nye's 3 dimensions of public diplomacy? It seems to facilitate the first-daily communications of foreign policy decisions-it provides a new space for this information to be disseminated. However, it does seem that Nye sees this as a one-way flow, not a forum for discussion, although in PD 2.0 perhaps this is what it should be. The second dimension of creating strategic themes has great implications if one of these very themes can be the US as a country that is willing to welcome and listen to international viewpoints. These themes are supposed to be reflective of US interests, and perhaps the PD 2.0 dogma of dialogue and respectful listening should be at the top of the list. The third dimension of creating long term relationships is extremely powerful, and has great potential if the new public diplomacy is indeed centered around an exchange of ideas. The virtual exchange of ideas could well lead to more meaningful and substantive exchanges of people across cultures. The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs already has several programs that accomplish this, but there is room for more.

Although it may not immediately seem like it, the central tenants of public diplomacy (as laid out by Nye) don't necessarily need to change according to PD 2.0. Rather, there is potential for them to be adapted in a way that increases their reach and effectiveness. By welcoming reciprocity and the creation of more open dialogues, the US is definitely on the right track towards maintaining its relevance.

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