on June 6, 2009 @ 10:06 am
Thanks for this great piece.
Your readers might be interested in my
"Smart Power In, Public Diplomacy Out?"
on June 6, 2009 @ 11:40 am
The term of art in the Clinton Administration was the slightly obscene "enlargement." You might want to consider the possibility that the paternity for this new term --"engagement" -- lies there in recent Democratic administration phraseology and thinking about America's role in the world rather than as a euphemism for public diplomacy and a reaction to Bush. It would suggest that economic development women;s rights, and humanitarian global goods have priority over public diplomacy (or strategic communication) as was the case in the Clinton Administration when USIA was euthanized.
There is a good Foreign Affairs piece discussing the origin of the word "enlargement" in the Anthony Lake sponsored "Kennan Sweepstakes" here:
I know it is seductive to think the Obama administration is following in the footsteps of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and their excellent report; but perhaps there is no relationship at all. Perhaps that bodes even less well for public diplomacy than you had suggested. Time will tell.
on June 6, 2009 @ 8:12 pm
Just a nitpick (I can't resist getting PD history right): the new Undersecretary in State came into being in October 1999, not during 1998.
on June 7, 2009 @ 3:07 am
Mike, While the USIA was not formally consolidated into the State Department until 1999,(see http://www.publicdiplomacy.org/6.htm), I would say that arguably the 1998 date for the creation of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs position is not technically incorrect, as the “Reorganization Plan and Report
Submitted by President Clinton to the Congress on December 30, 1998,
Pursuant to Section 1601 of the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998, as Contained in Public Law 105-277” specified (and thus, arguably, "created") the function of an Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs: “Proposed Integration into State [:] The Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs will advise the Secretary of State on public diplomacy and public affairs. The Under Secretary will provide policy oversight for two bureaus dealing with public diplomacy and public affairs, and coordinate such activities in State.”
on June 8, 2009 @ 5:30 am
The mendacity of eumhemisms is worse than you say. It is not a two-latered but has three or even four levels, like a Napoleon cake. "Information" was Creel's eupemism for propaganda, which he admitted openly. It bounced around in the 40's and ended up as the key-word in USIA in 1953.
PD was invented for his own purposes, again admittedly to avoid Propaganda, by Ed Gullion in 1967. It did no honor to the man it enshrined. It did not slither its way into government until the summer of 1978 when veteran propagandist Lou Olom, exec of the Advisroy Commission for the new ICA--NB euphemism 2, C'cation-- spent months with the new chair of the memberless commission Olin Robison nattering over a manageable name for the Commission. Olom suggestred PD and Robison grabbed at it, as he would have at any straw after months circling. The general misinterpretation of the phrase, which has continued until our times, allowed the Reagan White House to load the Commission with propagandists--after the first two academics rotated off (JHFranklin and Robison), they put on anyone they wanted to this bi-partisan group, including "Democrats" who happened to have supported Reagan.
"Engagement" is based on an active verb, thus is a functioonal word, denoting exactly what CD (and hoppefully PD too, at its best) are designed to do. It is not altogether a bad name, so long as the US is incapable of swallowing the reality that what it intends is massively cultural and only marginally propagandistic, as most of the world's nations have known all along.
I hope this will interest you. If you'll send me your private email, I'll send you a tidbit that will interest you for sure.
on June 8, 2009 @ 8:46 am
All good points, Nick.
To be sure, when it comes to international political communications, the best PD can never compensate for flawed policy or failed practice. In that respect, so far since last November there appears to have been been rather more hope than change on display.
There are some possible reasons as well to be concerned with the concept of smart power, which I think rests on some highly volatile and possibly incorrect assumptions. Moreover, as soon as PD is placed in any kind of power context or framework, genuine dialogue becomes very difficult.
For more along these lines, you and your readers might be interested in a glance at this short take:
on July 20, 2009 @ 5:42 am
Apart from a more active-sounding approach, the change from PD to Engagement looks like it signals a change on two fronts:
- in terms of the depth of its reach - the White House "Global Engagement Directorate (GED) is supposed to leverage diplomacy, communications, international development and assistance" which suggests a linkage with the real money, which has an impact on the ground. Here we in the EU have always been playing catch-up, trying to match the real positive changes brought about by our aid policy with the perception of effectiveness, and with long-term change; and
- in terms of policy – the GED objectives apparently include “leverage …of domestic engagement and outreach in pursuit of a host of national security objectives, including those related to homeland security.”. Does this suggest a fresh look at Smith Mundt?”