Cultural historians mostly discourage making cross-history comparisons of important events, since they take place in fundamentally different contexts and the parallels that are drawn are rarely meaningful or useful. With that caveat, I will argue how President Obama's administration might best utilize the soft power of cultural diplomacy by recalling a similarly pivotal moment from March 4, 1933.
Like many great orators President Obama knows how to quote scripture to maximum impact. His Cairo speech included passages from the Holy Koran, which his audience applauded.
President Barack Obama inherited two major public diplomacy problems. The first was the obvious crisis in America's communication with the world and the attendant decline in America's global standing. The second was the identification of the process of public diplomacy with the administration of George W. Bush. It was a paradox. The administration could not summon the cure without reminding people of one of the causes of the disease. The linking of Bush with Public Diplomacy was not wholly fair. The term was brought into its modern use in the U.S.
The nascent Obama era has captured the imagination of people everywhere who believe that the foundational aspects of international relations involve human, not economic, interests, and that those interests involve healthy dialogue. That has led to a pushback from those who suspect that Obama is, well, a wimp.