After the USIA dissolved in 1999 the agency was consolidated under the US State Department. The US government believed it wasn’t as necessary to have an entire agency dedicated to public diplomacy work as the Cold War had come to an end; The US was on top in terms of the spreading of democracy and opening markets. The US has rested on their laurels when it comes to public diplomacy because it is seen as a nefarious act. Historically, the US has not necessitated diplomatic efforts in order to sustain good will with other nations, rather only when there is a crisis situation or when the US hopes to gain good will. As a result of the small US domestic staff as well as the Public Diplomacy Officials around the world in embassies, the workload is overwhelming. The Department of Defense (DOD) has taken it upon themselves to act as PDOs when necessary, however their execution of such tactics does not bode well as their military role overpowers their ability to think and interact on a civilian level with foreign publics.
As the Bush administration clearly marked the US presence in the Middle East as a “war on terrorism”, he deemed the situation as primarily militaristic in nature. Thus, the military have been the most funded and primary points of contact in these conflict areas. This is a result of their concern for US citizens’ safety in these areas. Although the DOD has no designated communication spending per say, their work is much more likely to yield significant funding than the international information programs to carry out public diplomacy initiatives. Although most recently the DOD has honed in on strategic communication and engagement, their downfalls in carrying out PD work is that the military tends to be narrowly focused, has short time frames for “operations”, utilizes mostly media as an outreach tool which tends to have unilateral messaging, and plans inflexibly in advance. It is evident that the uniform image is also a barrier to dialogue with foreign publics as military personnel come off as intimidating to civilians. There is a significant power dynamic that cannot be overlooked when considering the execution of PD work. It is essential for the foreign public to feel as though they are on a mutual playing field in order to actively engage.