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GRAHAMSTOWN, South Africa – Public diplomacy is usually identified with and examined as the use of “soft power” by one nation or another. But the public diplomacy of non-state actors has had an impact sometimes even more profound than the efforts of the most powerful governments.

Any number of NGOs can claim a major impact on policies of governments and even world organizations through efforts in what could be characterized as public diplomacy, efforts that defeated far better organized and resourced forces arrayed against them.

TOKYO – For the first time in five years, the number of international graduate students admitted to U.S. universities has declined, according to a study by the Council of Graduate Schools.

The reaction in much of the world was muted, or less. But in some countries that have racial tensions similar to the U.S., the coverage was less muted — and looked familiar.

NEW DELHI – While much of the world celebrates Valentines Day, February 14th will be celebrated in India as the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's 1959 visit. And it all ties to photographs of King, Gandhi and President Obama.

To celebrate the anniversary, ten programs are planned in India featuring King's son, Martin Luther King III, Representative John Lewis - a veteran of the civil rights movement, and musician Herbie Hancock. (The U.S. embassy's description is here).

MUMBAI -- Following the attacks here two weeks ago, much of the coverage on local media looks familiar: red banner stripes and logos with such phrases as "26/11 Fight against Terrorism". But it is not quite the same as US networks' "War on Terror".

There are "Indians of the Year", mini-package profiles of the soldiers and others who died during the fighting that occurred the week before last just down the street from my hotel, and live coverage of vigils and demonstrations. Also, the attack on Mumbai has been framed as attack on modernity. So far, again, it looks quite familiar.



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.

WASHINGTON -- America should “trumpet” the doubling of visas issued in the past year to U.S.-bound students.

That was the advice of panelists at a public diplomacy program this morning.

Ed. Note: Discover America Partnership Executive Director Geoff Freeman writes in response to Adam Clayton Powell III's post, "Man Bites Dog: International Visitors to U.S. Up for Second Straight Year."

We've all heard that there are lies, damn lies and statistics. Adam Clayton Powell's recent post on international travel patterns to the U.S. is the latest example – albeit no fault of Adam's.

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