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The efficacy of Brazil’s soft power in its continuing rise as an emerging global power has been the source of some controversy in the news over the past month, which showcases the ups and downs of the country’s most recent public diplomacy efforts. While the world’s unwavering attraction to Brazil is largely owed to its effortlessly exotic culture, there is much more to Brazil’s soft power than Carnaval, samba, and skimpy swimwear. Brazil’s regional and global influence is a testament to this fact.

South African President Jacob Zuma spent much of his first term shuttling between the capitals of the original BRIC countries to secure the Republic’s entrance into the club of emerging markets. He did this to open up South Africa to investment from these economic powers that seemed to be the emerging leaders after the 2008 financial crisis.

Russia’s public diplomacy in the past month has been under an increased level of pressure. This pressure resulted from Vladimir Putin’s return to office, which caused both negative perceptions outside the country and a rotation of the elites inside the country which led to changes among the public diplomacy leadership. Most of the news coming from Russia in May 2012 had to do with domestic decisions and their international consequences.

Cultural diplomacy has often been underrated as a potent form of public diplomacy. Currently, we are seeing a change in the practice of cultural diplomacy as it expands to include non-state actors. One example is Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, whose award-winning film, A Separation, has provided foreign audiences around the world with an accurate and credible portrayal of Iranian culture and identity at a time when tension has been running high between Iran and the West.

On March 5, 2012, Invisible Children, a San Diego-based non-profit organization, posted

“I enjoyed Dr. Nick Cull‘s recent column on film. It is pertinent to us - we have just set up a film library incorporating 11 feature films and six short films for use by our posts overseas, and we are actively undertaking film public diplomacy around the world, sometimes using the library, sometimes not.

“Babeeta Dhillon‘s short essay in PDiN issue of October 2010 is a fine quick summary of the major failures of the
Commonwealth Games (CWG) of October 2010 hosted by India. This event provides rich material for the PD practitioner, an almost instant case study. Writing this a month later, I would stress a couple of additional points.

“Now that President Barack Obama has concluded his $200 million per day trip to India (just kidding—that risible far right-wing canard has been thoroughly debunked), it‘s a good moment for some initial thoughts about the soft power dimensions of the episode.

Let‘s start at one remove with the People‘s Republic of China, which is, to state the obvious, a key driver of the developing Indo-American entente—New York Times columnist Tom Friedman calls the situation “containment lite” - and whose recent diplomatic blunders helped create a propitious atmosphere for Obama‘s visit.