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Public Diplomacy

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In a perfect world, after strategists have studied and understood the domestic and international context in which they function, identified the national interests that they serve, and carefully chosen foreign policy goals that will aid in advancing those interests, they must choose the tools of statecraft that they will use to achieve those goals. Ideally, these tools are used in a grand concert of efforts that proceed along parallel paths to culminate in success. Separating these instruments or tools into singular entities can be useful in gaining a basic understanding of each individual instrument. This analysis focuses on the instrument called public diplomacy. Public diplomacy, in its simplest formulation, is communication from a government to a people of another nation as opposed to classic government to government diplomacy. A more formal definition emphasizes the efforts governments make to influence important segments of foreign public opinion and thereby advance their policy objectives. Another writer defines it as the tools governments use to communicate both specific policy objectives and larger national values to foreign publics. It is important to recognize that inherent in these definitions are two basic methods of using public diplomacy a long-term or strategic use and a short-term or tactical use. Just as advertisers attempt to persuade at least a segment of the public to buy a particular product, public diplomatists attempt to persuade at least a segment of a public to buy a particular point of view. Public diplomacy is perhaps the purest of the persuasive instruments of national power because it entails nothing but persuasion -- there are no adverse consequences for the target population if the message is not accepted. A case study of the U.S. Government trying to convince Ukrainian citizens that private enterprise is good is used to illustrate the key concepts of a public diplomacy framework.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Sociology and Law
  • Psychology

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