The question of which hemisphere Asian-American NBA star Jeremy Lin belongs to has frequently emerged from the so-called “Linsanity” following the recent meteoric rise of the New York Knicks’ rookie point guard. Lin’s largest shareholders are the United States, where he was born and raised, and Taiwan, where his parents are from. The Chinese have also attempted to claim Lin on the basis of his grandmother’s birthplace of China’s Zhejiang Province.
The aim of public diplomacy is to approach the citizens of other countries directly by means of art, knowledge, media, language, aid, and so on. It is beyond the traditional government-oriented diplomacy.
2011 brought many things to light through public diplomacy in the news, including the growing understanding that civil society is becoming more and more significant with every passing day, month, year and decade. With massive protests from Tunis to Tahrir to Tel Aviv, Benghazi to Bahrain and London to New York, publics have become global players. So, what does this mean for public diplomacy? What has driven public diplomacy news content for 2011?
The 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks was an opportunity to revisit and reflect upon how the attacks fundamentally reshaped public diplomacy in the United States and across the globe. In the days prior to, and immediately following the anniversary, much was written about public diplomacy and foreign policy in the post-9/11 world. From U.S.
“The window for diplomacy is closed.” So said President George W. Bush as the U.S. prepared to launch military action in Iraq. Mr. Bush intended that statement as a message to Saddam Hussein that the U.S. was no longer willing to negotiate and that his immediate departure from power was the only option; but in light of history his metaphor was somewhat ironic. In the aftermath of the attacks on September 11, 2001, the United States missed a number of opportunities to repurpose the enormous outpouring of good will around the world into a focused and potent strategy of public diplomacy.
One decade later, has anything changed? This question was asked over and over during the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
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The 9/11 Commission charged by the U.S. Congress and president with investigating the “facts and circumstances relating to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001” and making recommendations for “how [to] avoid such tragedy” in the future had little to say about failures related to the nation’s diplomatic preparedness to combat ideological threats. In fact, the Commission’s conclusions about pre-9/11 diplomacy were summed up in its final report in one sentence:“The diplomatic efforts of the Department of State were largely ineffective.”