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David M. Edelstein and Ronald R.

Krebs, Washingtons Troubling Obsession with

Public Diplomacy, Survival, vol 47 no 1 (2005): 89-104.
Washington too obsessed with public diplomacy - done a poor job of persuading the
world of its benevolence. Forget if only we did it better ..., - Its not the packaging that
others dislike. Its the product.
Historically - bad rep in Muslim world. Tried to re-do this post 9/11, hired high-ranking
advertising agents like Charlotte Beers - Under-Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public
Affairs. (resigned later in ftrustration)
Stepped up public diplomacy - overt government-sponsored programmes designed to
shape public opinion in other countries. Based on idea that if people had better access to
information/independent media, theyd understand that America doesnt want an empire,
that the war on terror is in everyones interest, and that American values are universal.
But unsuccessful - favourable views of US on the decline, and post-Iraq even more so.
Americans as people/American values often more popular than government, inc. among
younger Muslims, Arabs.
Criticise implementation rather than premise? Clumsy/insulting tendencies. Lack of
continuity - Beers lasted 10 months in the job, her successor lasted only 5 months.
Underfunded? Understaffed? Under-measured? Lots of different criticism, but largely
Essence of public diplomacy - survived intact. Formation of a NFP Corporation for Public
Diplomacy? Public Diplomacy Reserve Corps? Or more substantive reforms. Greater
training for ambassadors? Local moderate voices? Expansion of student/cultural exchange
programmes? Creation of more accessible information centres? Stylistic/personal?
But better image management alone - wont allow US to exercise power without
opposition. Have to change substance.
Limits Critics of US not because they misunderstand US, but because they understand it too well.
Imperialism? Questionable, but the term sticks. Better public diplomacy might help at the
margins, but couldnt dispel this core worry.

For people in industralised nations - US quest for empire - penchant for unilateralism,
freedom of own action. Iraq, Kosovo, Kyoto Protocol, Land Mine Ban, ICC.
Developed world - problem of power. Cant really unseat US.
Russia, China - want their own power on own terms.
Image management cant massage away fundamental tensions, though it might loosen
some knots. Only control to unbridled use of power would resolve this.
The US would need to willingly bind itself in the short term for longer term benefit.
Ikenberry - this is what they did post-Cold War.
Developing world - globalisation leads to a explosive love/hate relationship with the West.
Difficult analogy Transition to market economy in Europe, 19th century, Jews seen as pre-eminent symbols
of global capital.
US the same?

no nation better epitomises the neoliberal vision both its economic

prescriptions and the attendant cultural patterns or has done more to
spread it worldwide than the United States.22

Globalisation not an anonymous process - US seen (justifiably) as the prime figure in this
process. Standards of living difference - Gallup - the citizens of Islamic nations are at
least outwardly not as much envious or covetous of the success of the West as they are
resentful resentful that the powerful West does not help ... [and] seemingly does not
US cant be blamed for everything, but myopic/malevolent American policies hurt especially when taking into account the (seemingly empty) promotion of
democracy/undermining democratic movements.
The truth will out - portraying US as generous, tolerant etc - failure.

Wrt developing world - difficult to resolve. Cant really abandon the market focus. Narrow
poverty gap? Maybe a bit, but not much.
Difficult to make regimes more responsive to their peoples wishes - disastrous
interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq.
Dont aid oppressive regimes (Saudi Arabia, Egypt) when it suits you.
Industralised world - willingly enmesh itself in institutions (not buck landmines, chemical
weapons, ABMT).
Concerns that need multilateral institutions - combatting terrorism, stemming drug trade,
preventing proliferation of WMD, fostering sustainable development. Might limit its action,
but thats the point - allies, adversaries aware that the US power would be tamed.
Imposing practical barriers. No looming threat to justify joining orders.
And building an unstable institutional order would be worse than building no order at all:
were the United States to go it alone whenever it so desired, it would add a reputation for
capriciousness to the fear of its unrestrainable power.
Public diplomacy alluring, but risks misleading US. Believe that theres a technical fix to
the countrys problems that allows it to keep on going as it does.
Americas critics get the big picture right more often than they get the details wrong.
Ironically, a congressional advisory group charged with fixing public diplomacy made
precisely this point: Spin and manipulative public relations and propaganda are not the
answer. Foreign policy counts. In our trips to Egypt, Syria, Turkey, France, Morocco, and
Senegal, we were struck by the depth of opposition to many of our policies. (Changing
Minds Winning Peace, p. 18, and see also pp. 2224). Nearly every major report on
public diplomacy published within the last year has recognised the depth of opposition to
US policy positions, but nearly all bracketed the question of policy reform either because
their mandate prevented them from recommending substantive foreign policy change or
because it was presumed that generating favourable opinion was not worth the (assumed)
cost to the national interest.

Public diplomacy does have a role, though - shaming other harmful states - preventing
flareups, overcoming deadlock etc - normal diplomatic functions still relevant.
But even the best marketing can only do so much.