history & theory

A little more than seven weeks after the United States officially entered World War II, a live, 15-minute shortwave radio broadcast was transmitted into Germany from a small studio in New York City on February 1, 1942. It was introduced by the American patriotic song "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Then, announcer William Harlan Hale's voice could be heard saying: “We bring you Voices from America. 

This is the early version of what we now call the DIME model of national power — diplomacy, information, military, economic. A July 1945 report from the State Department recognized that the “nature of present day foreign relations makes it essential for the United States to maintain informational activities abroad as an integral part of the conduct of our foreign affairs.” 

Nicholas Thomas is the director of Cambridge’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. He likens museums to regions and nations in which all sorts of disparate elements are brought together [...] The thrust of his ruminations on the nature of collections is that, like collections of people, the sum is greater than the parts because of the dialogues, conversations, connections and interactions between inanimate objects as well as people.

Just a few minutes on foot from the bustle of downtown Bucharest, the State Jewish Theater, down a small side street in the Romanian capital, cuts a forlorn figure. Yet the theater is one of the few vestiges of what was once a large Jewish community in Romania, and one of the few professional Yiddish-language theaters left in Europe.

Digital Diplomacy is the new radio. Ever since politicians figured out that they could speak directly to ‘the masses’, we have had the phenomenon of public diplomacy. It became possible, via radio, to speak directly to people without having to go through official government channels. In the early 20th century, the Nazis and the Bolsheviks effectively used the radio to stoke revolutions in neighbouring countries.

January 11, 2017

“Speak softly and carry a big stick” Theodore Roosevelt famously said in 1901, when the United States was emerging as a great power. It was the right sentiment, perhaps, in an age of imperial rivalry but today many Americans doubt the utility of their global military presence, thinking it outdated, unnecessary or even dangerous.

The U.N.’s second secretary-general Dag Hammarskjold defined the job’s role as a diplomat who has the ability and courage to navigate a course independent of the major powers and in defense of the world’s population. [...] Once Ban was installed at the U.N. in 2007, he broke with tradition by naming Americans — two former State Department diplomats — to be his chief political officers during his ten-year tenure. 

Measurement and evaluation is nothing new to public diplomacy. Nicholas Cull holds that America’s public diplomats have always understood the need to move the needle. However, most historical accounts also agree that the topic has gained considerable traction since 9/11. 

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