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Summary: Secretary Clinton’s trip to Asia highlighted the importance of confidence-building measures and symbolism in traditional state-to-state diplomacy, but also reflected the distinctive style of the Obama administration.

Summary:  The Gaza crisis has once again highlighted the growing significance of public diplomacy and information campaigns during global conflicts.  In 2006, Israel suffered a significant public diplomacy setback during its summer war with Hezbollah.  In spite of a renewed focus and some notable improvements to its communication strategy, Israel has once again sustained a blow to its image, while Hamas’ popularity, among Palestinians in particular, has increased in the aftermath of the war. 

Ever since his rise to power in 2005 Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has enjoyed being in the spotlight of American attention. Not without the help of the news media and the White House’s preoccupation with his persona, the Iranian President successfully managed to turn many of his public appearances into public diplomacy triumphs.

The overall narrative for these Olympics seems somewhat ambivalent: “they were a rousing success, but…” But they could only take place in a totalitarian country where the government can direct resources at will towards any national project. But the protest zones were left empty and some of those wanting to protest were arrested after they filed their paperwork.

Alhurra – “The Free One” – is a U.S. government-funded broadcaster available throughout the Middle East. Established in 2004, Alhurra, along with its FM radio counterpart, Radio Sawa (launched in 2002), represent America’s largest commitment to public diplomacy in the region. Over the last six years, the U.S. government has invested just under $500 million dollars in the two broadcasters.

The diffusion and evolution of new technology has profoundly changed the practice of public diplomacy. Originally considered an activity only practiced by states, private actors have increasingly begun to invest in public diplomacy related initiatives.

On March 25, the European Union celebrated the 50th anniversary of its founding Treaty of Rome. This momentous event and the Berlin Declaration drafted by the German presidency to mark the occasion and preset a “road map” for the Union, sparked discussion on the successes and failures of the integration community, its utility today, and its role in the future. The wrangling over the text of the Declaration highlighted current foreign policy disagreement between member-countries and the fresh memory of the 2005 “no” vote on the constitution in the referenda in France and the Netherlands.