This study aims at developing an independent theory
that explains public diplomacy; it comes up with hypotheses which it tests
using a statistical quantitative analysis of data from different states on
their practice of soft power or image maintenance, which has been interpreted
as the instrumentalization of public diplomacy. The analysis seeks to answer
the question why do states practice public diplomacy. They are discussed on
headlines of rationale, idealism and social trends motivations. It then breaks
down each of the factors; the aspect of rational reason for the practice of
public diplomacy, focuses on wealth and prestige. Social trends, implies that
most countries could have embraced public diplomacy out of peer pressure. And
idealistic motivations are discussed on the premise of Open democracy and
freedom, which is very unlikely to be a motivation even with public diplomacy
having been born from the concept of “credible diplomacy” as truth over
Ultimately the study construes that public diplomacy
and soft power clearly is based on Rational motivations and with Public
diplomacy being the next frontier of study and practice, Irrational social
trends are most likely the reason states will be motivated to practice public
diplomacy unlike the idealistic approach.
Public diplomacy is now one of the hottest topics
being discussed and states are all turning to see how well or bad they are
doing and maybe how they can be better, how will it make the, better. But how
did PD become an aspiration to have?
In the past the display of power was by means of
military and economic dominance, through which the states would impose their
foreign policies etc. but today that has changed, with the end of cold war and
the revolution in communication technology, this paradigm has since shifted to
a ‘third world war’ of winning hearts and minds of foreign publics.
According to this study it is the emergent third world
war; the “War of ideas.” Or in the words of the former United States
undersecretary for public diplomacy, James Glassman (2008) ‘Public diplomacy
Multi-polarity has ensured that states are now focused
on soft power projection and public diplomacy. Yet, until today not so much
studies have been done regarding public diplomacy except for the analysis of the
powerful states and actors.
Despite this study focusing more on the
government-initiated public diplomacy through the internet. It also true that
the practice has largely been proliferated by non-state actors, the likes of
NGOs, Businesses and even the members of the media- the later in a big way
contributed to the bringing down of the berlin walls in 1989 marking the end of
the cold war.
But what really
is public diplomacy?
Public diplomacy as defined by this study as ‘the activities of a states government
through its ministry of foreign affairs MFA to influence a foreign public with
the goal of promoting and projecting interests.’
To start with this definition is not updated to the
public diplomacy state today:
‘Systematic research of any significant topic first
requires a workable and widely accepted definition. Scholars and practitioners
have employed a variety of confusing, incomplete, or problematic definitions of
public diplomacy’ Gilboa (2008)
This study was focused on public diplomacy and
specifically internet based government initiated. If we are looking for an
independent theory to explain public diplomacy, we definitely have to consider the updated understanding of
public diplomacy. The weight of the contribution of this study to
developing a theory of public diplomacy is already starting on the wrong foot.
Public diplomacy has often been criticized as being Propaganda. If anything, public
diplomacy was labeled as state propaganda in the past, this does not seem to be
It’s also been likened to public relations. Signitzer
and Coombs (1992) argued that PR and public diplomacy seek similar objectives
and 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 blog
MountainRunner.us, he says “Public diplomacy is not public relations,”.
This study denotes that public diplomacy and Soft
power are future fronts of study and practice, and it only makes sense,
considering the literature richness and theoretical content pertaining public
diplomacy 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 the
disadvantage to it, is one, this analysis is limited to the collapse of the
berlin wall and so the end of the cold war, and two, the emergence of new
narratives. And which this study agrees on and it makes sense.
This study has attempted to offers avenues worth considering
in coming up with models (needed to develop knowledge because they focus on the
most significant variables and the relations between them). In amidst the cloud of ambiguity.
It presents its theoretical suggestions using Rational
choice, idealism and social trend motivations approach, it presents a
quantitative analysis of states data and explains it qualitatively.
Let’s at each of them individually;
implies that, states practice public diplomacy with Costs and benefits in mind.
They consider how the practice would favor the country, what it will cost them
and what they would gain from it in return whether the short or long run, if it
is worth executing. It could be prestige-does
it make better their reputation, admiration, or earn them more respect and
regard as achievements or Economic boost-
maybe grow their tourism industry, improve their collaborations on trade by
creating a good impression of themselves or even getting aid in times of
crisis. This is lauded as more effective than a state having to manually
convince another on their national narrative.
This study gives other practical examples on rational
motivations for public diplomacy; e:g “States
desire to preserve international prestige – US
Desire to combat
negative international impressions- Sri-lanka.
Much as rational motivation gives tangible reasons to
the practice of Public diplomacy its worth to note also that the effectiveness
of this model is purely out of capacity. For example, it is easy for the US to
preserve their international prestige, considering economic strength and its
history, but the same cannot be said of a developing country that is
occasionally struggling with democratic ideologies for example. Or a country
with an history of warring or recession might meet difficulties while trying to
gain other states trust and friendship. And this model only works for the
wealthy and the prestigious states.
Whether that is relative depends on which state is
exercising this aspect and targeting which state?
However, with this model, States could end up, over
spending for less and for which case it’s not certain that this really is a
definite model that explains public diplomacy.
public diplomacy-This model embraces the aspect of influencing a public who will in turn
influence the government, this is said to have a more chance of working in a
country 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 on
grounds that, public diplomacy was established from self-interest and
deception, and so the ideals of truth, selflessness and equality as echoed
through the UN are not realistic and up-to-date. China and Russia are doing
well even without them being democratic and free.
social trends towards public diplomacy-This theory depicts the practice of public diplomacy
by states as either a state copying another state or just out of social
pressure- the seemingly stately thing to do – many states are practicing it and
it seems as the normal or appropriate thing a state would do. It could be
beneficial or not, it is not a concern of states in this case.
After the world war II there was a general trend and
fashion in democracy and states embraced it because it was the common talk, it
sounded futuristic and the next big thing. Even though rationalist think that
there is more than it being a social trend, that it had a benefit aspect attached
to it. But then why would a state reward another for trying to influence their
This theory though is more viable with non-state
actors as part of the story.
Rationalists have argued that, it is impossible for a
state to act without benefit intention in mind. The example of Switzerland
joining the UN in 2002 as being out of social pressure, is not absolute. What
if it was Switzerland wanting to be part of a group, building a common ground
and upholding similar causes, and so enable them build a relationship with
other states or give them easy access to other states?
Two, what would be said of countries, who are not
practicing public diplomacy, are they not yielding to the social pressure, or
the pressure is not really a motivation to practicing public diplomacy?
The assumption though here is most countries, joined
in the wagon, because it was a famous development being embraced by countries.
Quantitative study will either validate or invalidate
The need for a quantitative analysis in testing the
fore explained assumptions in this study is paramount, more so considering the
theoretical limitation of public diplomacy.
Albeit it only focuses on the internet based,
government initiated public diplomacy to influencing a foreign public to
promote and project its interests, which is just part of a whole pie of the
practice 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 of
development, size of population, level of freedom, stable democracy,
international prestige, years practicing ‘open’ diplomacy, number of missions
abroad and technological capacity.
quantitative analysis was to give a beyond doubt prove that the factors
mentioned either are motivations to the practice of PD. But in this case, may
be that thought is a little far-fetched, for this reason;
Standardness: This study holds that rationale and
social trend are motivations to state practice of Public Diplomacy but;
If Social trend
was really a motivation to practicing public diplomacy, the data only shows four countries in Africa that practice
of factors studied,
they are all correlated, synergies; a country cannot have prestige unless it is
wealthy, a country cannot be wealthy and not have advancement in areas like
According to Jan Melissen article (October 2006), it
mentions that ‘Public diplomacy is tailor
made to the needs of different countries, that have given it priority in their
diplomacy for a variety of reasons’ which in this case may vary for different
countries. It’s apparent, that a measurement like prestige, could motivate the
US, but would definitely not be the same that could motivate Tanzania for
example, even with exception of the few countries ranked poor in the world who
still practice public diplomacy -Uganda, Rwanda, Nepal and even interestingly
Variable: Government-initiated Public Diplomacy.
Public diplomacy takes the epicenter of the form of
diplomacy being practiced by state governments. Using the internet as its
channel. This study sorts countries that practice public diplomacy, examine
whether the particular states’ MFA is structured in such a way that public
diplomacy is one of their departments, and in which case the state would be
considered as conducting its public diplomacy through its government.
In addition, the mission statement was also vetted on
its preference to public diplomacy.
To sum it up, a variety of other studies were done on
states who practice public diplomacy but do not fall into the above categories.
Using only the
government is not a very explicit way of arriving to an independent theory of
Public Diplomacy. It is skewed and limited, attempts
to derive a theory of public diplomacy from just the government use of the
internet to project soft power is slim and not very efficient, because it
closes out a lot of avenues that are heavily being employed today to cause public
diplomacy. Not to mention the dynamism that public diplomacy has undergone. It
is no longer a preserve of the government, maybe if it was traditional
diplomacy it would be viable.
Wealth, prestige and Technological capacity are more
likely to determine if a country practices public diplomacy as opposed to
Development, population size, Freedom, Democracy
(not certainly but stable democracies practice public diplomacy except for
different reasons), Number of missions abroad or years of open diplomacy.
Freedom not being a reason for countries to practice
public diplomacy, invalidates the theory of idealistic motivation to practicing
This study eventually suggests in its conclusion that
that states practice public diplomacy due to rational interests and the
non-rational social trends but not ideals of democracy and openness.
It also agrees that public diplomacy is no longer a
preserve of the super powers and the western world, overtime more states, the
world is continuing to embrace the practice of public diplomacy.
This more of a
study towards the theory of traditional diplomacy unlike the intended public
diplomacy 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 influence
foreign publics opinion and which ultimately contributed in a big way to the
bringing down of the Berlin wall and end of the cold war.
Scholars and theorists have continued to grapple with
what could be the independent theory for public diplomacy. It is a row that
will probably go on for a while considering the dynamism in the field.
This study is a
case in point and in my opinion this study is still very inconclusive.
Being an everyday evolving issue, scholars should
plausibly use the cause of action to define the course of action. Ensuring to
keep with the times.
Practice of public diplomacy today involves also the
non-actors; this study should expand its scope into the practice of public
diplomacy by Government and non-actor as the dependent variables:
Dimensions of study should make sense to the states
being studied: and so may be define aspects of study to different states as per
their status: for example; Looking at the developed and motivations that could
make sense to use to measure practice of PD and the under-developed or
developing with their motivations too: it would more sense and accurate.
Or rather comparing them from a common ground; where
all caliber of countries can identify with.
study is still far from an independent theory of Public diplomacy.
PRESENTED BY; BEATRICE