Where the Rubber Meets the Road: PD As It Is Practiced Abroad


In the years since these events took place, there have been some significant changes in the public diplomacy landscape.  The Cold War ended and the Age of Terrorism began.  New Internet and social networking tools have proliferated and the world is on a 24/7-news cycle.  The independent agency that handled America’s public diplomacy was abolished and the remnants of PD are now in the hands of the State Department, with international civilian broadcasting overseen by the independent Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). The Department of Defense now has a major role in strategic communications.  USAID and other agencies have their own public diplomacy efforts abroad.  NGOs and individual citizens feel empowered to conduct a type of public diplomacy on their own terms.

Despite all of this change, the PD tactics, techniques and procedures used in these examples are still valid.  New technological tools would be employed today of course and the stricter security environment would affect some of the means to our ends.

These four examples had other elements in common, along with being highly successful public diplomacy strategies.  Each of the examples took an aspect of the unique relationship between the host country and the United States and used it as a bridge between the two societies and the two nations. Each of the examples was “field-driven”, not “Washington-directed.” Washington financial and other resources were used for public diplomacy to be sure but the ideas behind each PD strategy and the strategy itself was created in the field.  Each of the examples used local resources to the maximum, including other members and agencies of the U. S. Mission.  The strategies were designed and implemented by experienced public diplomacy professionals but other officers and staff of the Embassy also were pressed into service toward a common goal.  And this is precisely the art and science of public diplomacy.

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