Type: Narrative Essays
Sample donated: Dustin James
Last updated: March 28, 2019
This study aims at developing an independent theorythat explains public diplomacy; it comes up with hypotheses which it testsusing a statistical quantitative analysis of data from different states ontheir practice of soft power or image maintenance, which has been interpretedas the instrumentalization of public diplomacy. The analysis seeks to answerthe question why do states practice public diplomacy. They are discussed onheadlines of rationale, idealism and social trends motivations.
It then breaksdown each of the factors; the aspect of rational reason for the practice ofpublic diplomacy, focuses on wealth and prestige. Social trends, implies thatmost countries could have embraced public diplomacy out of peer pressure. Andidealistic motivations are discussed on the premise of Open democracy andfreedom, which is very unlikely to be a motivation even with public diplomacyhaving been born from the concept of “credible diplomacy” as truth overpropaganda.Ultimately the study construes that public diplomacyand soft power clearly is based on Rational motivations and with Publicdiplomacy being the next frontier of study and practice, Irrational socialtrends are most likely the reason states will be motivated to practice publicdiplomacy unlike the idealistic approach.IntroductionPublic diplomacy is now one of the hottest topicsbeing discussed and states are all turning to see how well or bad they aredoing and maybe how they can be better, how will it make the, better. But howdid PD become an aspiration to have?In the past the display of power was by means ofmilitary and economic dominance, through which the states would impose theirforeign policies etc. but today that has changed, with the end of cold war andthe revolution in communication technology, this paradigm has since shifted toa ‘third world war’ of winning hearts and minds of foreign publics.
According to this study it is the emergent third worldwar; the “War of ideas.” Or in the words of the former United Statesundersecretary for public diplomacy, James Glassman (2008) ‘Public diplomacy2.0’.Multi-polarity has ensured that states are now focusedon soft power projection and public diplomacy. Yet, until today not so muchstudies have been done regarding public diplomacy except for the analysis of thepowerful states and actors. Despite this study focusing more on thegovernment-initiated public diplomacy through the internet. It also true thatthe practice has largely been proliferated by non-state actors, the likes ofNGOs, Businesses and even the members of the media- the later in a big waycontributed to the bringing down of the berlin walls in 1989 marking the end ofthe cold war.
But what reallyis public diplomacy? AnalysisPublic diplomacy as defined by this study as ‘the activities of a states governmentthrough its ministry of foreign affairs MFA to influence a foreign public withthe goal of promoting and projecting interests.’To start with this definition is not updated to thepublic diplomacy state today: ‘Systematic research of any significant topic firstrequires a workable and widely accepted definition. Scholars and practitionershave employed a variety of confusing, incomplete, or problematic definitions ofpublic diplomacy’ Gilboa (2008)This study was focused on public diplomacy andspecifically internet based government initiated. If we are looking for anindependent theory to explain public diplomacy, we definitely have to consider the updated understanding ofpublic diplomacy.
The weight of the contribution of this study todeveloping a theory of public diplomacy is already starting on the wrong foot.Public diplomacy has often been criticized as being Propaganda. If anything, publicdiplomacy was labeled as state propaganda in the past, this does not seem to befading.
It’s also been likened to public relations. Signitzerand Coombs (1992) argued that PR and public diplomacy seek similar objectivesand employ similar tools. A thought that is strongly contested by Matthew Armstrong(2009), he calls for a more robust U.
S. public diplomacy on his blogMountainRunner.us, he says “Public diplomacy is not public relations,”.This study denotes that public diplomacy and Softpower are future fronts of study and practice, and it only makes sense,considering the literature richness and theoretical content pertaining publicdiplomacy is wanting to a large extent. As it is the only available analysis,is of the US and it is account of public diplomacy during the cold war, but thedisadvantage to it, is one, this analysis is limited to the collapse of theberlin wall and so the end of the cold war, and two, the emergence of newnarratives. And which this study agrees on and it makes sense.This study has attempted to offers avenues worth consideringin coming up with models (needed to develop knowledge because they focus on themost significant variables and the relations between them). In amidst the cloud of ambiguity.
It presents its theoretical suggestions using Rationalchoice, idealism and social trend motivations approach, it presents aquantitative analysis of states data and explains it qualitatively. Let’s at each of them individually; Rational choiceModel-This modelimplies that, states practice public diplomacy with Costs and benefits in mind.They consider how the practice would favor the country, what it will cost themand what they would gain from it in return whether the short or long run, if itis worth executing. It could be prestige-doesit make better their reputation, admiration, or earn them more respect andregard as achievements or Economic boost-maybe grow their tourism industry, improve their collaborations on trade bycreating a good impression of themselves or even getting aid in times ofcrisis. This is lauded as more effective than a state having to manuallyconvince another on their national narrative.This study gives other practical examples on rationalmotivations for public diplomacy; e:g “Statesdesire to preserve international prestige – USDesire to combatnegative international impressions- Sri-lanka. CriticismMuch as rational motivation gives tangible reasons tothe practice of Public diplomacy its worth to note also that the effectivenessof this model is purely out of capacity. For example, it is easy for the US topreserve their international prestige, considering economic strength and itshistory, but the same cannot be said of a developing country that isoccasionally struggling with democratic ideologies for example.
Or a countrywith an history of warring or recession might meet difficulties while trying togain other states trust and friendship. And this model only works for thewealthy and the prestigious states. Whether that is relative depends on which state isexercising this aspect and targeting which state?However, with this model, States could end up, overspending for less and for which case it’s not certain that this really is adefinite model that explains public diplomacy.
Ideals andpublic diplomacy-This model embraces the aspect of influencing a public who will in turninfluence the government, this is said to have a more chance of working in acountry which is democratic and with freedom of the media or political systems.Its hinged to the “concept of credible diplomacy” by Edward Murrow.But it faces criticism from different scholars ongrounds that, public diplomacy was established from self-interest anddeception, and so the ideals of truth, selflessness and equality as echoedthrough the UN are not realistic and up-to-date. China and Russia are doingwell even without them being democratic and free.Non rational,social trends towards public diplomacy-This theory depicts the practice of public diplomacyby states as either a state copying another state or just out of socialpressure- the seemingly stately thing to do – many states are practicing it andit seems as the normal or appropriate thing a state would do. It could bebeneficial or not, it is not a concern of states in this case.
After the world war II there was a general trend andfashion in democracy and states embraced it because it was the common talk, itsounded futuristic and the next big thing. Even though rationalist think thatthere is more than it being a social trend, that it had a benefit aspect attachedto it. But then why would a state reward another for trying to influence theirpublics?This theory though is more viable with non-stateactors as part of the story.CriticismRationalists have argued that, it is impossible for astate to act without benefit intention in mind. The example of Switzerlandjoining the UN in 2002 as being out of social pressure, is not absolute.
Whatif it was Switzerland wanting to be part of a group, building a common groundand upholding similar causes, and so enable them build a relationship withother states or give them easy access to other states?Two, what would be said of countries, who are notpracticing public diplomacy, are they not yielding to the social pressure, orthe pressure is not really a motivation to practicing public diplomacy?The assumption though here is most countries, joinedin the wagon, because it was a famous development being embraced by countries.Quantitative study will either validate or invalidatethis suggestion.QuantitativeinferencesThe need for a quantitative analysis in testing thefore explained assumptions in this study is paramount, more so considering thetheoretical limitation of public diplomacy.
Albeit it only focuses on the internet based,government initiated public diplomacy to influencing a foreign public topromote and project its interests, which is just part of a whole pie of thepractice of public diplomacy.And so this (government initiated public diplomacy)forms the dependent variable against factors suggested in the study i.e Wealth as per capita GDP, level ofdevelopment, size of population, level of freedom, stable democracy,international prestige, years practicing ‘open’ diplomacy, number of missionsabroad and technological capacity. Essentially thequantitative analysis was to give a beyond doubt prove that the factorsmentioned either are motivations to the practice of PD. But in this case, maybe that thought is a little far-fetched, for this reason;Standardness: This study holds that rationale andsocial trend are motivations to state practice of Public Diplomacy but; If Social trendwas really a motivation to practicing public diplomacy, the data only shows four countries in Africa that practicepublic diplomacy. Invariabilityof factors studied,they are all correlated, synergies; a country cannot have prestige unless it iswealthy, a country cannot be wealthy and not have advancement in areas liketechnology.
According to Jan Melissen article (October 2006), itmentions that ‘Public diplomacy is tailormade to the needs of different countries, that have given it priority in theirdiplomacy for a variety of reasons’ which in this case may vary for differentcountries. It’s apparent, that a measurement like prestige, could motivate theUS, but would definitely not be the same that could motivate Tanzania forexample, even with exception of the few countries ranked poor in the world whostill practice public diplomacy -Uganda, Rwanda, Nepal and even interestinglyZimbabwe. DependentVariable: Government-initiated Public Diplomacy.Public diplomacy takes the epicenter of the form ofdiplomacy being practiced by state governments. Using the internet as itschannel. This study sorts countries that practice public diplomacy, examinewhether the particular states’ MFA is structured in such a way that publicdiplomacy is one of their departments, and in which case the state would beconsidered as conducting its public diplomacy through its government. In addition, the mission statement was also vetted onits preference to public diplomacy.To sum it up, a variety of other studies were done onstates who practice public diplomacy but do not fall into the above categories.
Using only thegovernment is not a very explicit way of arriving to an independent theory ofPublic Diplomacy. It is skewed and limited, attemptsto derive a theory of public diplomacy from just the government use of theinternet to project soft power is slim and not very efficient, because itcloses out a lot of avenues that are heavily being employed today to cause publicdiplomacy. Not to mention the dynamism that public diplomacy has undergone. Itis no longer a preserve of the government, maybe if it was traditionaldiplomacy it would be viable. Single FactorRegression ResultsWealth, prestige and Technological capacity are morelikely to determine if a country practices public diplomacy as opposed toDevelopment, population size, Freedom, Democracy(not certainly but stable democracies practice public diplomacy except fordifferent reasons), Number of missions abroad or years of open diplomacy.Freedom not being a reason for countries to practicepublic diplomacy, invalidates the theory of idealistic motivation to practicingpublic diplomacy.
This study eventually suggests in its conclusion thatthat states practice public diplomacy due to rational interests and thenon-rational social trends but not ideals of democracy and openness. It also agrees that public diplomacy is no longer apreserve of the super powers and the western world, overtime more states, theworld is continuing to embrace the practice of public diplomacy. Remarks This more of astudy towards the theory of traditional diplomacy unlike the intended publicdiplomacy as we know today:Many scholars have tried to explain public diplomacy,from the time of the cold war, the time when the US used the media to influenceforeign publics opinion and which ultimately contributed in a big way to thebringing down of the Berlin wall and end of the cold war.Scholars and theorists have continued to grapple withwhat could be the independent theory for public diplomacy. It is a row thatwill probably go on for a while considering the dynamism in the field. This study is acase in point and in my opinion this study is still very inconclusive.
RecommendationBeing an everyday evolving issue, scholars shouldplausibly use the cause of action to define the course of action. Ensuring tokeep with the times.Practice of public diplomacy today involves also thenon-actors; this study should expand its scope into the practice of publicdiplomacy by Government and non-actor as the dependent variables:Dimensions of study should make sense to the statesbeing studied: and so may be define aspects of study to different states as pertheir status: for example; Looking at the developed and motivations that couldmake sense to use to measure practice of PD and the under-developed ordeveloping with their motivations too: it would more sense and accurate.
Or rather comparing them from a common ground; whereall caliber of countries can identify with.Otherwise thisstudy is still far from an independent theory of Public diplomacy. PRESENTED BY; BEATRICEBEATRICERONO