School of Media and Communication

Phil Taylor's papers


Taking the Pulse of American Public Diplomacy in a Post 9/11 World by Barry Fulton

1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 -- the years were punctuated with think tank studies of the decline of American diplomacy. With the end of the Cold War, Congressional and public interest in sustaining America's international presence dissipated. USIA and ACDA vanished in the interest of efficiency and policy management. Recruitment and training shrank. Open libraries and American cultural centers were closed, while embassies were fortified. America began to turn away from the world. Early in his tenure, Secretary of State Colin Powell promised to attend to public diplomacy and selected a trusted colleague to take charge. Before she was confirmed, terrorists struck the Twin Towers -- and the world changed. The term public diplomacy appeared on the front page of the Washington Post a few weeks later, and has since appeared in the popular press with increasing frequency. How could large majorities in the Islamic world show such hostility to the United States? How could they show support for bid Laden? What went wrong? Was it a failure of public diplomacy? Was there a coincidence between anti-Americanism as measured by respected pollsters and the decade-long decline of American public diplomacy? Could a few TV ads in the Middle East repair the deterioration of respect for America? Were decades of scholarly exchanges and professional visits undermined by America's insensitivity to other cultures? There is broad agreement -- from the Council on Foreign Relations to the Heritage Foundation, from the State Department to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -- that American public diplomacy has not met the challenge. The proposed paper will summarize the recommendations of the several studies and examine the response of the U.S. government including the Department of State and the Broadcast Board of Governors as well as other departments and agencies whose actions and voices are instrumental in the international dialogue. The paper will ask whether the U.S. government's increasing appreciation for public diplomacy will reinvigorate its conduct and restore America's influence with foreign publics.

fulton.pdf Description

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