Friday, July 3, 2009


Dear Readers,

The Public Diplomacy Journal staff is working hard at revamping the site and coming back with a brand new design, new features that will foster user interactivity, and a continued commitment to high quality commentary on Public Diplomacy. 

We will announce the official launch of our revamped site in the coming weeks. 


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Quote of the Day: Art in U.S. Embassies

"...we really needed to step it up and get American artists and their work exhibited as a real symbol of American culture and the arts." 

-- U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, speaking at the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies Dinner -- 

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Quote of the Day: Dutch Fighting Extremism

"An active public diplomacy can be a counterbalance to the distorted picture that radicals in some Muslim countries paint of the West"

-- Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen, in an interview --

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Quote of the Day: Powell talks Twitter

"Young people such as you are blessed with sources of information on the internet and the TV, increasingly on the internet, that will make you even more sophisticated people who cannot be influenced one way or the other by the newspaper or a news show or radio talk show. You have access ... I call it the wiki-ing world"

-- Colin Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State, speaking to students at Chapman University --

Lights Off, Public Diplomacy On

"The world said yes to climate change, now governments must follow"

--World Wildlife Fund -- 

The success of Earth Hour 2009 serves as an example of the power of public diplomacy to mobilize global publics around an issue that transcends national borders. The initiative seeked to raise awareness about the dangers of global warming by asking individuals around the world to turn off the lights for an hour at 8:30 p.m. 

From New Zealand, around to the Pacific, people across time zones made a public statement about a global issue from their homes. They were joined by local governments and organizations which turned off the lights of landmakrs and monuments, from the Great Pyramids of Egypt to the Empire State Building. 

An initiative that based its success largely on the ability to connect publics throughout the globe, owes much of that success to its effective use of new media. With a campaign in which users could post photos on Flickr, receive updates through Twitter, friend each other on Facebook, or watch videos on YouTube, the mobilization of audiences that are defined not by nationality, but rather by a common interest, could have not been possible without an strategic use of new technologies. 

Hopefully, the impact of this symbolic gesture reaches Copenhagen in time for the climate change negotiations in December. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pointless Resistance to Public Diplomacy: China Blocks YouTube

The most popular online video site, YouTube, has been blocked in China, according to parent company Google. The action, which has not been explained by the Chinese goverment, is rumored to be a response to the posting of a video by the Tibetan government in exile in which Chinese police officers are shown aggressively beating Tibetans after riots last year. This is the video rumored to have sparked the controversy:

The images in the video above are very poignant, and have started to receive substantial attention throughout the web. China's response to the accusations, rather than publicly denying them or offering an official response, seems to have been to block the medium through which its citizens could access and view the video. This response suggests a lack of understanding of public diplomacy dynamics

For starters, the gap between govermental and non-govermental actors as communicators has decreased significantly in the age of public diplomacy. The democratization of media production allows anyone with a recording device to create a video and distribute it widely across the world. Individuals have a much greater potential to impact international affairs than they have ever had. The idea that it is an appropriate response for a goverment to simply dismiss a public accusation in order to prevent it from garnering public attention is most commonly wrong in today's world. 

Goverments no longer have exclusive dominance over the public debate, not even in the realm of international affairs, and as such, they must be ready to fight in the war of ideas. China's lack of willingness to defend itself from an accussation that is now being discussed in important international news outlets, conveys a limited understanding of the impact of new media in international affairs. 

More so, in the age of public diplomacy, increasingly, publics are not defined by their national affiliation, but rather by similarities that often transcend national borders. The communication, whether through text, images, or video, between individuals in different parts of the world had resulted in a reconfiguration of global publics. Yet, with this action, China once again seems stubbornly determined to break up publics by the national borders that no longer serve to contain them. 

The Chinese goverment's eager desire to dominate the public debate within its borders, not by winning the war of ideas, but rather by blocking and banning messages that it deems negative for its internal image is worrisome. The fact that the goverment would rather limit its citizen's ability to access information than to persuade them, gives the impression internationally that China is trying to hide its actions instead of standing by them. 

Futhermore, the futile attempt to clearly divide its citizens from other publics abroad, can lead to an isolation of Chinese citizens, who may wonder without fully understanding, why people around the world think about their country the way that they do. 

China can keep pretending like Chinese affairs are only discussed internally, it can keep trying to contain its publics within its borders, it can keep trying to regulate their citizens' access to new media content, but sooner or later public diplomacy is going to knock on the door, and China won't have any other option but to open. 

Quote of the Day: Karl Marx Musical

"We will bring [Marx's] economic theories to life in a trendy, interesting and educational play, which will be fun to watch"

--He Nian, director of a new Chinese musical that will focus on the theories of Karl Marx's "Das Kapital"