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.
Many journalists and commentators have examined and illuminated the role of new media and technology in the on-going protests in Iran. Exposing the electoral fraud perpetrated by Ahmedinejad last year and the violent repression of resultant protests certainly called for the skill of traditional journalists and the new media capabilities of Iranian citizen witnesses and participants.
The other day The Wall Street Journal ran a good summary of China’s conflict with Google. It looks like we’re in for another international war of words but, this time, it won’t be a classic Cold War confrontation over political-military issues, but rather a war of words over words — censorship, to be precise.
The Obama Administration is back to practicing public diplomacy — with the American public. Stung by the loss in last week’s election in Massachusetts, the White House is bringing back public outreach specialist David Plouffe, the mild-mannered star of the Obama election campaign. Plouffe had stepped back from politics after the election to write a book on the campaign. Now it appears the White House needs Plouffe’s grassroots/Internet organizing skills more than ever.
When I was growing up in India, the U.S. Information Services used to serve as ambassadors of American culture, ideas, and ideals. That entire approach to diplomacy was shuttered after the Cold War and even after 9/11 remains moribund.
– Fareed Zakaria, “The Post-American World”
Since 9/11, the U.S. military for the first time has dramatically expanded its effort to communicate with foreign audiences. But this has created new problems…[and] this “mission creep” has gotten way out of hand.
Now that the big Asia trip is history, it’s natural to judge it on the basis of known results from its biggest portion — Obama’s three days in China. For the American president, there were no obvious breakthroughs on exchange rates or trade, climate or human rights, so maybe this visit was not the most successful. On the other hand, viewed in the context of America’s recent history with East Asia, there was a certain welcome absence of drama. Expectations were managed, there was no brinkmanship. Maybe that could be considered an achievement.
An overseas trip by a U.S. president is always costly, logistically challenging, and full of colorful backdrops. President Obama’s trip to Japan, Singapore, China and Korea is no exception. If anything, there will be more excitement than usual, since it is his first trip to the region as President and there is still tremendous foreign public interest in this appealing, young, intelligent leader, his inspiring speeches, and his photogenic wife.
Why, then, is the mood so downbeat among the U.S. press corps — the “traveling press” — as they begin covering this trip?
In Washington last week I sat down with a group of bloggers to interview two smart and savvy foreign correspondents. The fact that they were women, representing influential media from the Middle East, made their views interesting on several levels.
Nadia Bilbassy is a correspondent with MBC (Middle East Broadcasting Co.) and Joyce Karam is with London-based Arabic language daily Al Hayat. MBC owns Al Jazeera.
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