NATIONAL WAR COLL WASHINGTON DC
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Ambrose Bierces well-known definition of a diplomat as a man sent to lie abroad for his country illustrates the widely-accepted perception of diplomats as secretive, deceptive manipulators who operate exclusively behind the scenes. In fact, most diplomatic work involves matters which are neither classified nor sensitive. Trade promotion, interventions on behalf of American businesses operating abroad, adjudicating visas, writing position papers and talking points, and organizing the schedule of a visiting delegation of Members of Congress are examples of non-classified work which is carried out at virtually every diplomatic post. Public diplomacy is the term used to describe a governments conscious efforts to promote understanding of its own culture and interests among foreign publics, and to solicit their support for a policy objective. Routine diplomatic tasks such as those mentioned above significantly shape Americas image in each country and in that respect are an important element of our public diplomacy. Like so many other aspects of our national governance, public diplomacy has been affected by globalization. There is now a diverse collection of actors engaging in activities which used to be the unique preserve of the government, and through which we could frame and focus public diplomacy in support of broad policy objectives. Private and professional organizations, nongovernmental organizations, sister city programs, humanitarian relief projects, and private business initiatives are examples of new players who compete with the U.S. Government for the attention and participation of foreign elites in their programs. Successful public diplomacy in a globalized world requires the ability to coordinate initiatives that the government does not directly control. The author relates how the end of the Cold War has changed the way in which public diplomacy is conducted with Russia and other members of the former Soviet bloc.
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