March 28, 2011

Fran Drescher Goes to Washington

Public Diplomacy is no longer for the few and privileged Foreign Service Officers, says John Robert Kelley. Rather it is transforming in a way to include much more of the ‘P’ in ‘PD’. According to the Figure in Kelley’s article “The New Diplomacy: Evolution of a Revolution,” actors such as NGO’s, Religious Leaders, Intelligentsia Celebrities and Private Sector have an increasingly important role in Public Diplomacy and I would add to this the public itself as well as illustrated by the implementation of Public Diplomacy 2.0 in which two way communication from the public was encouraged and seen as the new wave of PD. I agree that in this increasingly technological world there is no way you can ignore the additional actors who play a role in Public Diplomacy but as mentioned, but as Kelley himself acknowledged diplomats are as integral to the act of public diplomacy as states themselves (which are the only reason we have diplomats in there current carnation anyway). So how much stock should we put in these actors? Can they really help? All signs point to yes… in certain cases. PD strategies are becoming more contingency based (appropriately so) and so many of the things listed above will be used in conjunction with one another in order to make an overall PD strategy that a country uses. The U.S., for example, uses all of the above in some form or other. My favorite non-governmental PD move is the use of actors, and I’m not being sarcastic. At first look making someone like, I don’t know, Fran Drescher a US ambassador is not music to ones ears. However she is the ambassador for “women's issues,” which is a cheesy title but not all together a bad idea. Drescher herself went had breast cancer, which is definitely a woman’s issue and also a very emotionally and physically draining experience. Having someone who has actually been through the experience makes the connection to other women more genuine, especially for something like a disease, which does not tend to respect national borders and international rules of conduct. Therefore addressing a universal issue with someone who can be more empathetic than most is a great strategy and is the ideal example of public diplomacy through new channels. Will this program work? Only time will tell. It won’t solve all foreign policy problems but it definitely helps give a face and personality to the once solely bureaucratic machine of PD.

Sources: John Robert Kelley, "The New Diplomacy: Evolution of a Revolution," Diplomacy & Statecraft, Volume 21, Issue 2, 2010, 1-21

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