Glasnost & Goodwill: Citizen Diplomacy in the Northwest

The Washington State Historical Society explores the importance of people-to-people exchanges in reducing Cold War tensions. 

As World War II ended, America faced another challenge: the Cold War with the USSR and the Eastern Bloc it influenced. As relations began to freeze, it became clear that nuclear weapons, spies, and the traditional tools of war wouldn’t be enough to fight Soviet hegemony. And so the West, argues Greg Barnhisel, turned to their secret weapon: books.

BITTER HARVEST Official Trailer (2017) Max Irons, Samantha Barks Movie

A new film tackles historical memory.

“We are one in nine billion,” states a striking stainless steel sculpture at the entrance to the U.S. Pavilion at Milan Expo 2015: “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life." That visual statement is intended to get visitors thinking about the fact that in 2050, the world’s population is estimated to reach 9 billion, and more sustainable ways to feed people must be found.

Anne Chermak Dillen, on the right

A tried and true public diplomacy method comes back to life.

At various times I have heard public diplomacy programs referred to as “public relations” or simply as “propaganda”. It is a common misunderstanding. Public diplomacy is supposed to be about informing others about your society and how things work in a truthful and unvarnished fashion. It is not supposed to be about presenting a pretty picture or covering-up warts.