chapter  6
22 Pages

Public diplomacy

Just as contemporary Defense Ministries used to be less euphemistically called Ministries of War, efforts to influence other people’s political beliefs used to be labeled propaganda, or (in the Soviet case) even disinformatia.1 These terms conjure up images of secrecy and dishonesty, of deceit and betrayal, which explains why today’s efforts to manage the international environment through engagement with foreign audiences is still looked upon with suspicion. This means that when terms like public diplomacy are used in order to describe activities that were previously called psychological warfare, caution and even a healthy dose of skepticism are in order. Still, in the US, Europe, as well as China and Israel, public diplomacy has become an increasingly important avenue to apply social power in international politics.2 As a 2002 report by the German Foreign Ministry noted: “In Europe, public diplomacy is viewed as the number one priority over the whole spectrum of issues.”3 British Minister for Europe Jim Murphy commissioned a detailed study on the relevance of “new” public diplomacy, in 2008,4 based on the argument that the “nature of influence has altered irreversibly in many countries and our diplomacy has to take account of that. How do we best conduct diplomacy in an internetenabled, increasingly democratised world?”5