Vladimir Putin is obsessed with cinema’s potential to sway hearts and minds. Over the past several years, Russia’s paramount leader has been tightening the screws on his country’s film industry. What is most remarkable about Putin’s move is not his power grab per se, Radio Free Europe’s anxiety-laden reportage in late December notwithstanding.
Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy James Glassman gave a comprehensive overview of his vision for the next phase of United States public diplomacy during his talk in early December at the New America Foundation.
Much that is written about public diplomacy focuses on Europe and the Muslim world. National news media in the US, headquartered in New York and Washington, equates foreign opinion with approving editorials in The Guardian and large crowds in Berlin. By those criteria, President-elect Barack Obama is wildly popular. Just elect Obama, the thinking goes, and America's public diplomacy problems are solved.
Not quite: The data indicate Obama was never as popular in Asia as in Europe. And it turns out President Bush was never as unpopular in Asia as he was in Europe.