An edited transcript of the CPD-BBC Forum held at USC, asking the hard questions about soft power.

A German and French plan to send military-surveillance drones to monitor the fragile cease-fire in eastern Ukraine is running into a thicket of security and legal problems, underscoring the obstacles facing Europe as it tries to tamp down violence in the region.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker isn't afraid to travel to hot spots. Recently returned from a mission that took her to Ukraine, Poland, and Turkey, she is ready to enter another volatile area if she thinks her style of "commercial diplomacy" can make a difference.

There’s also been potentially catastrophic damage to the West’s influence and credibility. The US is accused of over-prioritizing and withdrawing attention and resources from Eastern Europe; it’s an open question whether the EU is an effective foreign policy actor at all. 

A delegation of five Ukrainian doctors in Great Falls studying U.S. health care this week spoke before an audience Monday morning of about 30 at Great Falls College-Montana State University. The delegates are participating in the Open World Leadership Program, a U.S. Department of State-funded program that allows cultural exchange between young leaders in former Soviet countries and politicians and ordinary people in the United States.

After weeks of defying international pleas to free eight European officials they had captured in May, pro-Russian rebels in east Ukraine released them unexpectedly in June following a public appeal by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill.

Diplomacy is traditionally carried out behind closed doors, in hushed rooms, with perhaps a bowl of Ferrero Rocher to hand to put ambassadors at ease. Diplomacy 2.0, though, is carried out in public and, like everything else on social media, with a fair amount of sarcasm. 

Photo reprinted courtesy of Micke Jakobsson via Flickr
September 5, 2014

Soft power was all over the news this week in public diplomacy.