Public Diplomacy


Listening: Re-Branding Switzerland, 1997-2007

Revelations that its banking system was willing to handle Nazi gold during the Second World War in 1996 coupled with the fact that it was not a member of the European Union dented Switzerland’s image. It managed to turn the state of affairs by collecting views of the publics in selected countries and aligning foreign policies to those views.

Advocacy: U.S P.D to support Intermediate Nuclear Force (INF) Deployment in 1983

The issue was how to get the public in Western Europe to support U.S deployment of INF in that region. This was part of a wider strategy to foster serious negotiations with the Soviet Union on arms reduction. The campaign was, therefore, designed to have media messages in countries of Western Europe portraying the U.S as sincerely interested in peace while at the same time stressing the need for matching the Soviet Union. Follow up polls actually indicated that the opinions did actually shift.

Cultural Diplomacy: America’s Family of Man Exhibi, 1955-1963

Realizing that it was lagging behind its Soviet Union counterpart in the way nationals of other countries perceived of its image, the U.S set up a team to manage a counter. Some aspects of the campaign were the export of distinctively U.S culture such as Jazz music. Most outstanding, however, was a photographic exhibition featuring artists from many countries. In this way, the foreign publics were seeing their cultures presented to them by America.

Exchange: Franco-German rapprochement, 1945-1988

France and German speaking territories had not been in good terms for hundreds of years. This enmity was responsible formations of nations in the two countries. For instance, Germany was able to unify. The exchange first begun at an individual level with a certain French Jesuit priest establishing publications in both French and German to promote mutual understanding. On the other side, German politicians also established exchanges.  These were to be taken by local governments and eventually by the respective national governments.

 International Broadcasting: British Management of U.S. isolation 1939-1941

Facing Britain was the problem of bringing the U.S out of its neutrality policy in the wake of the Second World War. The American public at the time had an image of Britain that was mostly good at propaganda. The campaign, therefore, focused on using American voices to broadcast in the U.S.  Stories were told even if they sometimes portrayed Britain in bad light. In this way, Britain was able to remove the image of propaganda in its broadcasts in the minds of many Americans.


Listening: The U.S. ‘Shared Values’ Campaign

Concerns U.S attempt to bolster its image in the Arab world. It is an example of how listening can fail if not fed into policy. The ‘Shared Values’ campaign stressed the lives of Arab-Americans who were apparently living well while the source of a negative U.S image in the Middle East was another thing. Arabs hated America because of its policies in the Middle-East as opposed to the poor conditions of Arabs living in the U.S.

Advocacy: The U.S. in Vietnam

It was the typical illustration that even the best advocacy must be matched by an equally good policy. Even as the U.S spent lots of money in selling its client governments to the Vietnamese public, the reality on the ground was just very different. The client regime in Saigon did not live up to the image the U.S was trying to portray.

Cultural Diplomacy: The Image of the Soviet Union

Here again, the Soviet Union was spending money in exporting appealing portrayals of culture to other countries in a manner that was completely out of sink with the reality within the territory. It is another pointer that public diplomacy should not be very much out of reality.

Exchange: The Case of Sayed Qubt, 1948

This case shows that exchange does not necessarily lead to understanding. It must be accompanied by appropriate support for understanding to come out of it. Sayed Qubt had had some negative attitudes about the U.S but visiting the country reinforced these feelings. His followers were more inclined to believe him given that he had been in that country.

International Broadcasting: British/Free French Broadcasting to France in World War Two

This case shows the pitfalls of distorting messages even if doing so may be beneficial in the short run. Such distortions often come to haunt. The British/Free French broadcasts from London had blamed food shortages in France on German occupiers while this was actually not the case.

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