Much that is written about public diplomacy focuses on Europe and the Muslim world. National news media in the US, headquartered in New York and Washington, equates foreign opinion with approving editorials in The Guardian and large crowds in Berlin. By those criteria, President-elect Barack Obama is wildly popular. Just elect Obama, the thinking goes, and America's public diplomacy problems are solved.
Not quite: The data indicate Obama was never as popular in Asia as in Europe. And it turns out President Bush was never as unpopular in Asia as he was in Europe.
When awake with jet lag in a hotel far from home, the traveler naturally turns to the TV remote. So it was for me in Moscow this week, when a few absent minded clicks brought me face to face with Russia Today (RT)– the English language news channel and flagship for contemporary Russian public diplomacy. The channel did not come highly recommended. It had raised eyebrows with recent magazine advertisements adorned with a portrait of Stalin holding a quill and that caption: “Stalin wrote romantic poetry” and the tag line “Proud to be different”.
A recap of the third Wilton Park conference on public diplomacy in the UK.