The CPD Blog is intended to stimulate dialog among scholars and practitioners from around the world in the public diplomacy sphere. The opinions represented here are the authors' own and do not necessarily reflect CPD's views. For blogger guidelines, click here.

A young woman checks her smart phone

Philip Seib encourages public diplomats to read the comments section.

Aleppo City

Maintaining order in some areas of the failed state is a constant struggle against anarchy. The Integrated Community Security Program (ICSP) may be the answer.

On the mountain road between Sulaimani and Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan

The rarity and significance of Kurdistan’s stability are underscored by events of this week. 

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told a Washington audience on Wednesday that Russia’s absorption of Crimea is a “wake-up call” for his organization. The alarm had best ring loudly, because NATO has been sleeping deeply.    

Successful public diplomacy is based on providing foreign publics what they need, be it information, a vaccination program, or help in securing economic well-being.

Among the principal assets of U.S. public diplomacy are American values. They are admired around the world, even by many people who dislike American policy. No other political system offers such extensive individual and systemic freedoms as those enumerated in the Bill of Rights. Showcasing and standing up for those freedoms should be at the heart of U.S. public diplomacy.

“Soft power” is an important element of foreign policy, emphasizing attraction rather than coercion. The concept, popularized by Harvard professor Joseph Nye, provides counterbalance to the infatuation with hard power, especially military force, which has been driven by the accelerated development of “smart” weaponry. Drones, for example, are appealing to their users because their “pilots” may be thousands of miles away, wholly out of danger while people on the ground are dying. It is war without cost for one side.

LONDON --- If Apple, Disney, Coca Cola, and other corporate giants benefit from their carefully nurtured brands, why shouldn’t nations do the same? “Branding” is a fashionable tool on which some public diplomats rely heavily…perhaps too heavily.

Helping global publics associate a country with nice things may be useful, but emphasizing a brand for a country can be self-defeating. A nation is not a soft drink, and public diplomacy planners will find themselves getting little return on their efforts if they are satisfied with mere imagery.