A quote I heard twice on Friday, attributed to Dan Sreebny, is that PD does not mean "pixie dust." You can't spinkle a little PD on a steaming mess and make it all better.
It seems a lot of non-Public Diplomacy folks tend to leave PD out of the picture until something bad happens, and then they hope PD can fix it. Part of this stems, no doubt, from the time before "integregration," when USIA was folded into the State Department. It seems it has been, and to a degree continues to be, an uncomfortable marriage.
I think this is a shame. I believe in Public Diplomacy as part of our overall diplomatic strategy. It is not just about "poster shows" and making people love us. Because people don't love or hate us because of a lack of exposure to America and Americans. They love or hate us (or both) because of our policies.
Which is why I believe, as does Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy Judith McHale, that Public Diplomacy HAS to have a seat at the policy table. We need to know before the catastrophy how an action we take is going to be received. We need to be able to aim all of our programming and messaging at meeting the strategic needs of the mission and of the Department. We can't do that if we concern ourselves only with culture and cleanup. We have to be pro-active.
Which is why I am glad she is creating DAS (Deputy Assistant Secretary) positions in each of the regional bureaus. So we have a PD voice at the policy table from the get go.
Because I am a diplomat. My job is representing the US and its policy overseas.
And I'd make a lousy pixie.
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