South Asia

In recent years Australia has made great strides in its public diplomacy and has demonstrated a remarkable ability to ‘punch above its weight,’ especially in the realm of international education. As the US international student recruitment became bogged down in visa bureaucracy and post-9/11 paranoia, Australia surged ahead to take up the slack and recruited large numbers of students from Asia especially.

How do you perform public diplomacy effectively in the Age of Drama Queens?

It’s a special challenge if you’re Judith McHale, the State Department’s new Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy, with a special charge to rebuild America’s image in the Muslim world, especially in places such as Pakistan.

One of the mysteries of our day is that American hard power has been so ineffective for so many years in apprehending Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri), leaving the group free to use public diplomacy to speak to Muslim publics — especially to a Pakistani nation that distrusts the United States.

NEW DELHI – While much of the world celebrates Valentines Day, February 14th will be celebrated in India as the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's 1959 visit. And it all ties to photographs of King, Gandhi and President Obama.

To celebrate the anniversary, ten programs are planned in India featuring King's son, Martin Luther King III, Representative John Lewis - a veteran of the civil rights movement, and musician Herbie Hancock. (The U.S. embassy's description is here).

MUMBAI -- Following the attacks here two weeks ago, much of the coverage on local media looks familiar: red banner stripes and logos with such phrases as "26/11 Fight against Terrorism". But it is not quite the same as US networks' "War on Terror".

There are "Indians of the Year", mini-package profiles of the soldiers and others who died during the fighting that occurred the week before last just down the street from my hotel, and live coverage of vigils and demonstrations. Also, the attack on Mumbai has been framed as attack on modernity. So far, again, it looks quite familiar.