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.
The use of Twitter as a diplomatic tool fits in nicely with the new sense of political empowerment that has accompanied the rise of social media. As Internet connectivity rates continue to grow (particularly through the rapidly expanding availability of smartphones), Twitter helps foster an unprecedented sense of community among members of global publics.
Egypt’s president, Mohamed Morsi, is visiting the United States for the first time since taking office, and in an interview with the New York Times shortly before departing Cairo, he provided insights not only about his style of leadership but also about how Egypt has changed since the 2011 revolution that marked the end of Hosni Mubarak’s lengthy rule.
Ten years ago, the Innocence of Muslims controversy would not have happened. YouTube did not exist, and without this means of reaching a global audience the offensive snippets of the “film” would never have been seen.
Americans’ attention rarely strays beyond domestic discontents these days, and when it does extend overseas it is most likely to settle on the endless war in Afghanistan or the challenging puzzle that is China.
Cultural diplomacy has avid supporters partly because this facet of public diplomacy usually is not controversial and has a high feel-good quotient. Sending an orchestra to China or a dance troupe to Algeria has value because each such venture opens doors and minds. Reflexive resistance to cultural diplomacy is far less than occurs when more blatantly political efforts are undertaken.
SIMI VALLEY, CALIFORNIA --- The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library is a lovely memorial on a hill, overlooking many miles of California countryside. It also hosts thoughtful discussions about Reagan’s legacy, including a recent one that marked the thirtieth anniversary of his speech to the British Parliament – the “Westminster speech” – in which he proposed an assertive future for builders of democracy.
Nearly everyone likes cultural diplomacy in principle, but some remain skeptical about its value. It is seen by many as soft power at its softest, safe and fuzzy, with more aesthetic rewards than diplomatic ones.
For those of us committed to using cultural diplomacy as a significant force in advancing the national interest, that kind of condescending view is aggravating and we always welcome solid evidence that it is wrong.
SHANGHAI --- Zhao Qizeng, China’s leading proponent of public diplomacy, wrote, “Culture is the soul and life of a nation.” That concept is the driving force behind much of China’s exercise of soft power, and other countries that deal with this superpower need to understand the value the Chinese place on their language, traditions, and other cultural elements of their national life.
Join the Conversation
Interested in contributing to the CPD Blog? We welcome your posts. Read our guidelines and find out how you can submit blogs and photo essays >.