Our Crippled Public DiplomacyText/printer version
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Our public diplomacy instrument is broken. Established by Presidents Truman and Eisenhower to both “tell America’s story” and to promote our foreign policy objectives, our information program needs fixing. Especially in the wake of September 11th, our government’s ability to influence foreign public opinion has been profoundly questioned. President Bush, Chairman Biden, and Congressmen Hyde and Lantos have asked in various forums, “Why can’t America state its case overseas” and be convincing?
functions have been fragmented
and its resources further depleted.
Three former USIA components were placed under the direction of a new Under Secretary of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, but this position has no direct control over field posts and their operations. Though effective public diplomacy operations have crucially depended on overseas field posts, the Under Secretary has only an indirect relationship to the field, with geographic supervision relegated to the regional Bureaus of State.
Compounding these problems, State’s budgetary and management systems are not “user-friendly” to public diplomacy; they are rigid, slow, and difficult to apply to the requirements of what should be a fast, flexible, and responsive information operation.
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In order to be speedily supportive to field operations, a restructuring of the Under Secretary function is essential. By placing all of those elements assigned to public diplomacy – resources, budgets, personnel, and executive management staff – under the direction of a newly-empowered Under Secretary or director answering to the Secretary of State, public diplomacy could again be an important instrument of foreign policy. The Congress should provide the Under Secretary the tools needed to be effective.
Public diplomacy cannot be operated on the cheap. It must have a major increase in resources to rebuild decimated field operations in key countries.
No key unit of the military
or other department of government could countenance the lack of
operational authority and control of its resources now confronting
the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy.
Towards creating the more nimble, capable, and synergistic
information service, we offer the following recommendations:
Contributions by: Stan Silverman, Bill Maurer, William Rugh, and Michael Canning.
Endorsed by the USIA Alumni Association (525 members) and many other public diplomacy professionals
Designer: Alan Kotok
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