CRITICAL REVIEW ON THE REPORT ON THE
NATIONAL FRAMEWORK FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION
By The Honourable Joseph R. Biden, Jr
President of the Senate, United States of America
The purpose of the report is to present a comprehensive interagency strategy for public diplomacy and strategic communications. The report recommends that in order for communication and engagement to be effective it is critical to understand the attitudes, opinions, grievances and concerns of the people, not just the elites around the world, in order to convey credible, consistent messages, to develop plans and to better understand how the Administration’s actions are perceived. The report emphasises the need to clarify what the term ‘strategic communication’ means and how to guide and coordinate communication efforts. It further outlines positions, processes and interagency working groups that have been created to improve the ability to better synchronize words, deeds, and better coordinate communications and engagement programmes and activities, and emphasises the need to ensure an appropriate balance between civilian and military efforts. Furthermore the report recommends that strategic communications should focus on articulating what the United States stands for, not just what it is against and gives as an example, that the efforts to communicate and engage with Muslim communities around the world must be defined by the focus on mutual respect and mutual interest. It recommends that United States should not be focused solely on one-way communication and emphasises “engagement” as a way of connecting with, listening to, and building long-term relationships with key stakeholders.
The report outlines the different segments of the communications community, which include the Public Affairs (PA), Public Diplomacy (PD), Military Information Operations (IO) and Defense Support to Public Diplomacy (DSPD). It further recommends that planning, development and execution of engagement programmes and activities need to be better coordinated, integrated and driven by research, information, and intelligence, and advised that Public Diplomacy should be shaped by information, research, and analysis about key audiences. The report points out that although the United States Government carries out deliberate communication and engagement worldwide, the priorities for communication and engagement efforts are the same as overall national security priorities. It emphasises that communication and engagement, like other elements of national power, should be designed to support policy goals as well as to achieve specific effects to ensure foreign audiences recognize areas of mutual interest with the United States and believe the United plays a constructive role in global affairs; so that the United States may be seen as a respectful partner in efforts to meet complex global challenges. The report further recommends that Communication and engagement with foreign audiences should emphasise mutual respect and mutual interest. Moreover the report advises that the United States should articulate a positive vision, identifying what it is for, whenever possible and engage foreign audiences on positive terms, while at the same time countering violent extremism (CVE). Efforts should focus more directly on discrediting, denigrating and delegitimizing al-Qa’ida and violent extremist ideology. In addition, the report recommends the need to balance and optimize investment across the communications community, and advises that resource decisions and applications must be shaped by national priorities and be consistent with existing role and mission and the capacity of each stakeholder to effectively execute validated tasks and programs. It emphasises that accountability, assessment, and reporting are critical aspects of the newly established planning process to ensure all major deliberate communication and engagement efforts are coordinated and effective.
The report announces the formation of the interagency working group to evaluate military communication and engagement programs, as well as activities and investments to identify those that may be more appropriately funded or implemented by civilian departments and agencies, especially outside theatres of conflict. In addition, it outlines the recommended roles and responsibilities of National Security Staff in the various departments and agencies concerned with Security and Public and Cultural Diplomacy. It also recommends the development of the capacity to measure success and emphasise accountability. To conclude, the report rejects the need to establish a new independent not-for-profit organisation, responsible for providing independent assessment and strategic guidance on strategic communication and public diplomacy, as recommended by the Task Force on Strategic Communication of the Defense Board. It however, emphasises that ability to establish public-private partnership is a critical issue.
It can be concluded that this report is aimed at improving communications and engagement with foreign audiences for an improved Public and Cultural Diplomacy exercise for the United States. The recommendations of the report highlight some of the pitfalls in the current strategy, and offers an alternative and improved way of doing things in order for the United States Public and Cultural Diplomacy to be more effective. The report acknowledges the importance of understanding the grassroots in the populations they engage with and not just the elites in order to convey credible, consistent messages and to engage with the foreign audiences in a two-way communication, for mutual respect and mutual interest, as well as to have a balance between civilian and military efforts. It also specifies new roles and responsibilities of concerned staff and personnel.
‘OLYMPIC MISSILES’ AND BRITAIN’S GREAT CAMPAIGN
In preparation for the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games, British Prime Minister, David Cameron launched the ‘GREAT’ Campaign in 2011, which is designed to use the platform of the 2012 Games to showcase Britain’s capabilities to promote and enhance the UK’s reputation abroad and to maximise the economic potential of the Games. (FCO, 2012)
“In 2012 there will be only one place to be. With the Olympic and Paralympic Games coming to London next summer, the greatest show on earth is about to arrive in one of the world’s greatest cities.” (David Cameron, 2012)
The Campaign invites the world to take a fresh look at everything Britain has to offer and centres on areas of British excellence focusing on reasons to invest in and visit the UK including, “We want to send out a clear message that Britain is one of the very best places in the world to visit, live, work, study, invest and do business”. Britain is braced to seize this opportunity to extend it cultural diplomacy to the world by showing that Britain is an ‘open, connected, dynamic and creative country that combines history and tradition with modernity and innovation’. (FCO,2012)
However, in a somewhat strange twist of events, the Olympic site is also being prepared as a battle ground to counter ‘anticipated’ terrorist attacks with surface-air-missiles planned to be stationed on top of flats, typhoon jets and helicopters scheduled to patrol the skies as 23,000-strong force of security guards, including soldiers, bolsters up to 12,000 police officers a day.
It would be interesting to see the impact of the combination of soft power and hard power on the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Last line of defence: Starstreak short-range missiles
- Daily Mail, 2012: The High Rise Homes turned into Olympic Missile base: Surface –to-air weapons will be stationed on roof as last line of defence. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2137105/London-2012-Olympics-Missile-base-stationed-roof-high-rise-homes.html
- Department for Culture, Media and Sport : prime Minister Launches plans to generate long term economic growth from Olympic legacy :http://www.culture.gov.uk/news/news_stories/8451.aspx
- FCO, 2012. The GREAT Campaign, http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/about-us/what-we-do/public-diplomacy/great-campaign
SPORTS DIPLOMACY – SOUTH AFRICA
When the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) awarded South Africa the rights to host the 2010 World Cup, South Africa seized the opportunity as a Public and Cultural Diplomacy opportunity to re-brand South Africa. However, being the first time that an African country would host the World Cup, international media raised their doubts about the capability of South Africa to successfully host a global event of this magnitude against a background of high crime rates which had in previous years prevented tourists from visiting South Africa. South Africa, nevertheless, embarked on a rebuilding and rebranding exercise with a budget of approximately R40 billion to improve its infrastructure, including stadiums and transportation links in preparation for the World Cup. The country also utilized the build up to the FIFA World Cup as a golden opportunity to portray itself in a positive light and to rekindle the declining racial relations of its multi-racial population, whose race barriers had been replaced by socio-economic divides. (Telegraph, 2010)
According to Laverty, 2010, In 2009, one year ahead of the FIFA World Cup, South Africa launched the “Brand South Africa 2010 Campaign”, which was divided in four main segments, starting with ‘Football Fridays’, which encouraged both private and public sector employees to go to work in casual clothes every Friday, donning the green and yellow colours of the South African Football team. ‘Fly the Flag for Football’ encouraged all South Africans to fly their national flag or its colours as a symbol of unity from key rings to t-shirts to car flags, designed in the four colours of the South African Flag. South Africa’s ‘Diski Dance’ was promoted as a creative way to welcome visitors to the country and posted on YouTube and other social media. Schools and business houses were encouraged to play the ‘South African National Anthem’ as way for everyone to learn to sing the National Anthem in preparation for a big sing-out to the world during the kick-off of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. (Laverty, 2010)
By investing in a sporting event the magnitude of the FIFA World Cup as part of its public and cultural diplomacy exercise, South Africa was able to promote the country’s passion for an international game and to portray South Africa as a hospitable nation and host to the world. With world media broadcasting positive images and stories around the globe, this yielded positive effects on the international community and the rest of the world, which can be argued boosted South Africa’s soft power. Through the 2010 Campaign, Brand South Africa created a united and hospitable host population thereby portraying a positive view of the country, which formed part of the positive memories that many visitors took away from the 2010 World Cup which refuted paternalistic and pessimistic views held prior and in the lead up to the FIFA World Cup.
- 1. Laverty, A, 2010. ‘Brand South Africa: A Public Diplomacy Case Study’, 19 November 2010 http://theafricanfile.com/public-diplomacy/brand-south-africa-a-pubic-diplomacy-case-study/ Accessed ( 27 April 2012)
- Telegraph, 2010 ‘World Cup 2010: South Africa President Jacob Zuma: World Cup Vital for Country’s Future’. The Telegraph, 7 June 2010 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/south-africa/7809683/World-Cup-2010-South-Africa-president-Jacob-Zuma-World-Cup-vital-for-countrys-future.html Accessed 15 April 2012)
- Wandermelon, 2010 ‘World Cup Links, Tickets and Travel to South Africa and other important stuff for Goal-Oriented Travellers’ http://wandermelon.com/2010/05/21/world-cup-links-tickets-and-travel-to-south-africa-and-other-important-stuff-for-goal-oriented-travelers/
As a nonprofit organization, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) challenges particular government decisions and provides ‘policy solutions’ for a variety of institutions. This particular report however, provides the basic understanding of how useful and important the interaction between countries and foreign audiences is in the process of securing national interests, external threats and winning hearts and minds around the world. It was written in 2007 (shortly before the US elections) and provided solutions to boost America’s reputation by using PD tools.
In the Introductory chapter of ‘How America Can Become a Smart Power ’Richard L. Armitage and Joseph S. Nye identified the fundamental importance of achieving and maintaining a good reputation.
Using soft power in an ever interconnected globalised world is of great importance as this will, firstly, bring tremendous support from foreign audiences and governments regarding foreign policy and other national interests and secondly “bring acceptance for unpopular ventures”. This can be achieved by attracting people without using coercion use, but using instead the power to convince foreign audiences by exporting positive American values; not exclusively exporting the culture (e.g. Hollywood movies ) but through other channels such as “political values and ideas enshrined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, U.S. economic and educational systems, personal contacts and exchanges, and our somewhat reluctant participation and leadership in institutions that help shape the global agenda”.
However, since the ‘war on terror’, America “has been exporting fear and anger” rather than democratic principles and the value of human rights as prior 9/11, especially in the Middle Eastern regions and Muslims living outside alike.
The lies of George Bush (regarding Saddam Hussein’s possession of WMD in Iraq), the abuses, torture and ‘undemocratic’ detentions without a trial for prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, tremendously influenced the perception by outsiders and arguably led the Americans ‘spread of freedom and Democracy’ to appear to be a propaganda tool to pursue other (hidden) interests. In addition these incidents “undermine America’s ability to carry forth a message of principled optimism and hope”.
This report therefore highly recommended two priorities; the end to Guantanamo Bay (although legally and practically very challenging). Secondly, America should not overreact to any terrorist provocations as it would (according to the report) fulfill the agenda of most terrorist; also called the “jujitsu effect” whereby such groups “entice” a powerful country to respond in such a way that it will hurt itself (e.g. economically – as seen with the rising defence spending).
However, it is important to note that (although the use of soft power is of great importance) external incidents, such as the massacre of 16 innocent Afghan children,- women and- men by a US soldier(http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/11/us-soldier-kills-afghan-civilians), and burning of Korans also conducted by US soldiers in a military base in Afghanistan, can result in negative outcomes such as anti ‘Western interference’ mass demonstrations, attract new members for terrorist organisations, fuelling hatred against the West. (http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/02/koran-burned-parwan/)
The respected Koran is a holy book which is in many regions a way of life and the core principles have been used for centuries as guidance of living. These incidents can hardly be reversed by the use of soft power, especially when anti-western hatred among ‘Muslims’ already exist.
(Report – pp. 5 – 15 http://csis.org/files/media/csis/pubs/071106_csissmartpowerreport.pdf)
In the immediate aftermath of the horrendous attacks of September 11th 2001 on New York and Washington DC, the news that fifthteen of the nineteen hijackers were from Saudi Arabia came as a tremendous blow to the image of Saudi Arabia and the perception of the oil rich, strategically allied Kingdom, in the United States (Rabasa, 2004, p.109).
What followed was a frenzied diplomatic offensive aimed at limiting the damage done to the image of Saudi Arabia. Days after the attacks, the Kingdom hired the PR firm Burston-Marsteller to “place newspaper ads all over the country condemning the attacks and dissociating Saudi Arabia from them” (Salon.com). This was the first stage of a concerted effort undertaken by the Saudi embassy to publically disassociate their country from the attacks.
Following ads taken in prominent American papers, the long standing Ambassador of Saudi Arabia in Washington DC, Prince Bandar bin Sultan Abdul Aziz Al Saud undertook a swift tour of major American and foreign news channels, including CNN and the BBC to publically denounce terrorism and defend his country (Salon.com).
These two strategies of using both the print media and the broadcast media to disassociate Saudi Arabia from the attacks represented the Kingdom’s public diplomatic offensive.
Culturally, the Saudis went to great lengths to highlight the long standing fraternal ties between the American and Saudi people by hiring the communications firm Qorvis to spin a strategy aimed at damage control (Washington Post). This cultural offensive was reinforced by as many as four, prime time, 30 second television adverts which underscored that the Kingdom was an ally against terrorism (Fox News).
The objective of the Saudi diplomatic reaction was to soften the obvious damage done to the reputation of the Kingdom by the fact that three quarters of those who perpertrated 9/11 were originally Saudi citizens. The need to keep American ‘on-side’ as it were stems from the deep security-economic ties between Washington and Riyadh which see each other as crucial strategic allies in pursuit of security for the Kingdom and easy access to needed oil resources for the Americans. Indeed, Saudi investment in the US totals approximate $700 billion, a staggering amount (Council of Foreign Relations). Thus, the need to retain its close ties to Washington forced the hand of Riyadh which had huge potential losses in economic and security issues should ties between itself and the Americans breakdown, thus the mass media campaign to underscore diplomatic and cultural affinity between the two states.
Rabasa, A. The Muslim World After 9/11 (RAND corp, 2004)
(No Cited Author) Council of Foreign Relations, Strengthning the US-Saudi Relationship (May 2002)
C. Under, The Great Escape (Salon.com March 2004)
S. Horwitz, FBI searches Saudi PR Firm (Washington Post December 2004)
S. Shapiro, Saudi Arabia Launches PR campaign in US (Fox News Dec 2009)
The purpose of this short work is to assess how Britain is utilising public diplomacy in the case of the Falkland Islands.
The dispute between Britain and Argentina over the Falkland Island’s has a firm historical foundation. The general disagreement over the sovereignty of the islands resulted in the outbreak of war in 1982 (Parsons, 2000, p. 4). However, although Britain successfully recaptured the Islands, the most recent history of the disagreement has been personified by increasing tension; in particular willingness on the part of the Argentinean’s to diplomatically reassert their claim over the territory.
In dealing with the developments outlined above, the British government has undertaken a number of different responses. In evaluating these responses, it is impossible to ignore the extent to which the British government has bolstered the military defences of the Islands in recent months, which has led to accusations of intimidation (Penn, 2012; [online]). Nonetheless, it remains credible to argue that the main focus of attention for the British government has centred on ensuring an effective public diplomacy with regards to the sovereign future of the Islands. Above all, this diplomacy has essentially centred on a reassertion of British control over the territories. Therefore, at a basic level, the traditional argument of historical sovereignty has been propelled by the present British government. However, in utilising modes of public diplomacy, the British government has also sought to highlight the vital importance of supporting the wishes of the Islanders themselves. As such, the issue of self-determination as enshrined in Article One of the United Nations Charter has been used as a way of supporting the British claim (Laver, 2001, p. 100). Therefore, it is clearly possible to see the degree to which the efforts of British diplomacy have focused on a proactive diplomatic policy, backed up by an increased military presence.
However, although diplomatic efforts have been key in the ongoing dispute, it is nevertheless the case that diplomacy has rarely involved bi-lateral discussions. Indeed, British diplomacy has centred on strategically attacking the Argentinean’s through methods such as the banning of military exports (BBC, 2012 [online]). Therefore, the focus of both Argentine and British diplomacy has revolved around attaining support for their respective positions within the international community. In doing so, Britain has sought to garner the support of traditional allies like the United States, whereas the Argentine government has focused its diplomatic attention on achieving support for their cause from other Latin American countries. In addition, the Argentineans have also attempted to argue their case at the United Nations, with similar responses undertaken by the British.
As such, it is clearly credible to argue that the public diplomacy undertaken by the British has focused on a prevailing wish to highlight the continuation of British support for the Islands, in addition to supporting British sovereignty of the Islands through reference to international legal frameworks.
BBC News. (2012) ‘Falkland Islands tensions: UK bans exports to Argentine military’, BBC News, [online], date accessed, 03/05/12; available at; http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17858361.
Laver, R.C. (2001) The Falklands/Malvinas case: breaking the deadlock in the Anglo-Argentine sovereignty dispute. London: Martinus.
Parsons, M. (2000) The Falkland’s War. London: Sutton.
Penn, S. (2012) ‘The Malvinas/Falklands: diplomacy interrupted’, Guardian Online, [online], date accessed, 02/05/12; available at; http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/23/sean-penn-falklands-malvinas-diplomacy-interrupted.
Critical Review and Analysis of American Diplomacy and Islam Report
On 27 February 2003, the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations convened in order to hear expert testimonies on the subject of American public diplomacy and Islam. Chairman Richard Lugar initiated the proceedings noting his belief that American public diplomacy is a powerful tool in advancing objectives such as strengthening diplomatic capabilities and building democratic institutions. In particular, the Chairman noted the increase in examples of “virulent anti-American hatred in the Islamic world” highlighted since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Public opinion in allied countries has also increasingly questioned “American motives” and blamed the US for a range of international problems. He notes, “Many foreign governments are constrained by their ability to support American foreign policy if their own people oppose U.S. foreign policy.” A particular concern that emerges as a theme throughout the hearing is a lack of resources, for example, it is noted that only 7 cents of every $1 spent by the U.S. government on the military is directed to public diplomacy.
Senator Joseph Biden then put forward his testimony, re-emphasising the major points made by the Chairman in addition to putting forward a number of public opinion poll graphs for the public record. He states that three major reasons contribute to the decrease in goodwill towards America following the immediate outpour of support following 9/11. These include a lack of humility, the embarrassment of foreign leaders as a result of US policies, and a lack in successful public diplomacy. Following these opening statements the Committee turned to the witnesses, beginning with the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy, Charlotte Beers. Ms Beers presented her belief that public diplomacy should be focused more on informing other peoples of the world as oppose to engaging, a contrasting view to other witnesses at the Hearing. Beers states that State Department personnel are tasked with presenting, explaining and advocating American policies, highlighting this emphasis.
The second witness, Kenneth Tomlinson, Chairman of the Board of Broadcasting Governors also took a similar position to Ms Beer stating that “We should not be ashamed of public advocacy on behalf of freedom and democracy in the United States of America.” In particular, Tomlinson noted his view that Secretary of State Colin Powell’s speech to the United Nations justifying intervention in Iraq was heard by millions of people in the Arab world including “most notably” the people of Iraq. This also highlights the perhaps short-sighted perception that simply, having the message heard will result in successful public diplomacy which in hindsight is not the case, as per the Powell example.
The final three witnesses provided more nuanced views of what American public diplomacy should be. Andrew Kohut, Director of the Pew Research Centre presented results of polling carried out regarding foreign opinions of the USacross 44 countries.Dislike of America was concentrated in Muslim countries of the Middle East with unfavourable ratings across six such countries at 60-70%. Whilst this would not have been surprising news to the committee, Kohut did note that opinions about the United States are “complicated and contradictory” especially in terms of large majorities all over the world, including in the Middle East, polling favourably in terms of admiration of US technological achievements. On the other hand, in contrast to Tomlinson’s comments surrounding the success of Radio Sawa in using pop music to draw in Arab youth; Pew data shows that popular culture is mostly shunned in Muslim publics.
Kenton W. Keith, Senior Vice President of Meridian International and Dr R.S. Zaharna of the American University both presented completely contrasting views to the previous witnesses highlighting engagement as the centre-piece of public diplomacy. Keith states that “no previous foreign affairs crisis has been so deeply rooted in cultural misunderstanding;” similarly Dr Zaharna outlined her belief that until such misunderstandings are reconciled, the US should refrain reduce the release of information advocated my Under Secretary Beers. Additionally, public diplomacy should be based more on relationship building with foreign publics, i.e. not simply asserting the American message but understanding how it is perceived. The Doctor’s testimony drew considerable debate from Senator Biden who questioned why countries that aggravate Muslims more through immigration policy, etc. such as France, are viewed more favourably than America. Kohut responded stating that American power draws certain resentment, ultimately highlighting the extremely complex and nuanced nature that US public diplomacy essentially must follow.