Editor's Note: Research Associate Reza Aslan, a scholar of religions and the author of No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam (Random House), recently published in paperback, submits this examination of a public diplomacy challenge for the United States and its image in Iran and surrounding Muslim countries. Aslan offers that current U.S. policy considerations may provide an untenable challenge for public diplomacy practitioners.
According to the Reuters news agency, "Cuba today started 24-hour jamming in Havana of Radio Marti, the United States' Spanish-language station transmitted from Miami, and said it would extend the jamming to the whole island."
That was back in May 1990.
There is good news and bad news in the world of public diplomacy.
The good news is that respected observers and senior American officials are now paying more attention and trying to develop public diplomacy strategies. The not-so-good news is that they are getting it wrong. And the really bad news is that until America fixes its diplomacy both public and traditional, our national interests will continue to be badly compromised by precisely those institutions most responsible for protecting us.
50 years after Gullion, Nicholas J. Cull looks at the origin of the term "public diplomacy."
Delivered with equal measure of art and science, diplomacy is a
non-violent approach to the management of international relations and
global issues which seeks to resolve conflict through discussion,
negotiation and partnership. The diplomats' brief is unambiguous: to
advance or defend their country's political and economic place in the
world by the most effective means. That is the purpose, the essence of
"[T]hrough the press section of USIS that the Communist parties themselves represented at the Moscow Congress have come to know one of the most serious and dramatic documents in the Communist literature of the world."
--Pietro Nenni, Secretary General, Italian Socialist Party, 1957
This week workers at the Brooklyn Bridge chanced upon a forgotten room
containing supplies stockpiled against a nuclear attack. Dates on the
materials were evocative: 1957 - the year of Sputnik; 1962 - the year
of the Cuban missile crisis. This discovery is an oddly evocative
interruption from the high point last long war into what future
historians will doubtless see as the opening phase of the era-defining
conflict. It is like a ghost in a Shakespeare play -- reminding us of