An article by George Packer in the December 18, 2006 issue of the New Yorker raises some interesting questions for public diplomacy. The article, titled "Knowing the Enemy: Can social scientists redefine the 'War on Terror'?" highlights how insights from counter-insurgency and cultural anthropology studies have revealed that the U.S. conflict with jihadist groups is largely informational.
Joe Nye reminds us that soft power is the power to get others to want what we want. By that definition, soft power advocates haven’t done so well. Ironically, they have failed to use soft power to get others to want what they want – that is, more soft power.
It’s easy to beat up on the current administration for failing to understand and deploy "soft power" and public diplomacy in their toolkit of foreign policy. Bush, Cheney and the gang prefer coercion, i.e. hard power.
The next round of the seemingly endless frustration over U.S. public diplomacy is underway. Rod Dreher's recent rebuke of contemporary public diplomacy programs succinctly recapitulates the "problem" with U.S. public diplomacy -- at least according to how he frames the subject. For Dreher, the U.S. public diplomacy is losing the "information war," because it is being outflanked by jihadist media campaigns. For Dreher, U.S. efforts look absurdly anachronistic. The U.S.
The letter of President Ahmadinejad to President Bush, its wide range of topics on different context and in various dimensions, deserves detailed discussions by the people of knowledge and experience in the related fields. The purpose of this writing however, is not to analyze and judge the content of the letter, rather it's a small contribution to ring the bell that the noopolitik is already on its dawn, at the doorstep of the new century, and people of creeds and values should not miss the opportunity.