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Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communication


The American Security Project defines public diplomacy as:

Communication and relationship building with foreign publics for the purpose of achieving a foreign policy objective.

Public diplomacy is a vital aspect of our national security strategy and must also inform the policy making process. Paraphrasing Edward R. Murrow, President Kennedy’s Director of the United States Information Agency (USIA), public diplomacy must be in on the take-offs of policy and not just the crash landings.

In the 20 years since the end of the Cold War, the United States has yet to establish a defining role for public diplomacy in the context of its foreign relations.

Despite playing an important role in America’s Cold War victory, public diplomacy efforts and quality of content have since received neither the attention nor the craftsmanship they deserve. In 1999 the lead government body responsible for public diplomacy, USIA, was disbanded and its assets and responsibilities were subsequently folded into the Department of State. Since that time, public diplomacy has not yet found its rightful place.

In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, policy makers and academics alike have wrestled with attempts to put American public diplomacy back on track — in order to better explain America to the world as well as to sway those who might support violence against our country or citizens. It’s time to fix this problem. Just as our military posture needs to reflect 21st Century realities and adversaries, so must our public diplomacy reflect modern mediums and audiences.

American public diplomacy also has to acknowledge 21st Century standards of communication, properly identify the target audience, and accurately and effectively convey the ideas and policies of the United States to foreign publics.

The past several years have demonstrated the desire for private citizens around the world to have their voices heard. Tapping the power of new-media, individuals and other non-state actors now have access to many of the same tools as governments, and are often more effective in getting their messages across. Yet the United States cannot merely rely on Twitter, Facebook, and other web-based mediums for communication as a substitute for the content of its strategic messages.

As an important aspect of effective strategic communication, America must also genuinely strive to listen to and understand foreign publics. This vital component in crafting messages which resonate with target audiences has often gone unheeded or been misunderstood.

ASP seeks to redefine the debate around public diplomacy, and refocus America’s efforts to establish itself as an effective 21st Century communicator.


Perspective- U.S. Public Diplomacy Towards Iran

The New Public Diplomacy Imperative

The Challenges of the Internet and Social Media in Public Diplomacy

An Examination of the Fulbright Program

Fact Sheet – Academic Exchange: A Pillar of Public Diplomacy

Fact Sheet – Propaganda: A Tool of Strategic Influence

Fact Sheet – The United States Information Agency

Fact Sheet – The U.S. State Department’s American Spaces Program

Fact Sheet – The National Security Need for Public Diplomacy


Top 10 U.S. Public Diplomacy Priorities for 2014

Measuring the Effect of Public Diplomacy

Rowing Through Troubled Waters: Sports Diplomacy in the Middle East and South Asia

Exporting Public Diplomacy to Egypt

Challenges to U.S. Public Diplomacy in North Korea

Looking Back in History: The Public Diplomacy of Free France during WWII

India and Australia: An Emerging Partnership in the Indian Ocean?

The Private Sector’s Role in High Profile Public Diplomacy

Public Diplomacy- You may not know it when you see it

Disinformation in Public Diplomacy

Engagement: What Does it Mean for Public Diplomacy?

Military “Propaganda” in its Current Form

Exploiting the Information Gained through Social Media

On the Need for Long Term Strategic Thinking in the Middle East

ASP Podcast – Public Diplomacy and National Security

Tara Sonenshine on American Public Diplomacy: America Does Exceptional Things

A Page out of the Insurgent Handbook

Analog vs. Digital in the Diplomatic World

Intelligence and Aid Work Do Not Mix

The Dollars and Dimes of Hearts and Minds

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