Review of Applied Public Diplomacy Group 2, Country paper on Chile’s Public Diplomacy: Approaches to Effective Regional and International Strategies

Based on the Paper from group 2, on Chile’s Public Diplomacy approaches I have learned that Chile has a relatively stable public diplomacy strategy, on which it is continuously building upon.

The ProChile program seems to be a valuable initiative to attract FDI and improve Chile’s international economic image. It has received criticism from other Latin American countries, for not addressing inter-Latin-American relations, however, my question would be, is it intended for Latin American audiences, or does it have a wider scope? I can imagine that ProChile targets international investors from the most developed countries, and serves on a wide unspecialized manner.

FICH on the other hand offers a wider range of diplomacy approaches. While ProChile is based on economic diplomacy, FICH tackles commercial, cultural and political exchange. FICH as well seems to have a stable foundation, based on the four pillars of Chile’s nation brand. “Chile hace bien”, which means both “Chile is good for you” and “Chile does things well” is a very good slogan, especially for the Spanish speaking audiences.

I also agree with the recommendations of Group 2. I was particularly fond of the education exchange programs recommendation and the gastrodiplomacy initiative, as I believe both of those approaches to be very effective, and as Group 2 has laid out in their paper, have proven success for countries that have applied them.

Good job Group 2!

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W5 – Q3: Do you think there are consequences for the increase in demand for better measurement and evaluation? Good, bad, or both? 

Traditionally PD was not measured for its impact, which resulted in the increase of demand for measurement and evaluation of PD programs and projects. In the lack of an evaluation history, current academics and practitioners are struggling to find ways in which PD can be measured, to create baseline data which to be used as reference points and comparison now and in the future. Measurement and evaluation are especially important, considering that PD is not only about opinion, but also about social impact and action (or non-action, e.g. ISIS example).

There are several positive and negative consequences tied to the increased demand for PD measurement and evaluation (M&E). On the positive side, as Banks has mentioned in his 2011 paper, M&E will contribute greatly to improved PD – among others, in terms of allocation of resources; best practices; motivation for further improvement; honest insight of PD achievements and expectations; and offering an alternative to hard power.

The increased demand for PD M&E also has a few negative consequences. With practitioners trying to meet the M&E standards and requests in order to justify their spending requests, more and more PD programs are being designed in order to be measured (and most probably result in success stories). While designing for measurement is exactly what PD needs, the most crucial factor in PD should not be measurability, but rather effect or impact. It is not easy to design a PD program which serves its aim and is able to prove its effect. With regards to this, Banks has also laid out the ‘dirty dozen’, or challenges of M&E for PD. Banks M&E challenges list, among others, includes the high costs of M&E; the threats of continuity linked to changes of staff; the growing emphasis on multilateral partnerships, which make it harder to define the source of impact; as well as the confusion between output and outcome M&E models; to mention some.

I think that the process of adopting regular M&E processes in PD is hardest now, in the phase where it is being properly established. The increased demand for M&E has its positive and negative consequences, out of all of which there is plenty to learn and apply, in order to create a good M&E basis for PD in the future.

Week 4: Q3 How much freedom should public diplomacy officers have to speak their minds? Why?

Public diplomacy officers are governmental representatives to foreign audiences. Their key functions are to serve as mediators between their government (say US) and the local policies and public opinion. As Rugh states in Chapter 2 on Diplomacy Professionals, “they devote their major efforts to communications programs, and using soft power to develop mutual understand and win hearts and minds”. Thus public diplomacy officers are a human medium to represent US values, viewpoints and ideas abroad, while maintaining likeability from local audiences.

The question whether PDOs should speak their minds is very easy, once the officer personally agrees with any given US policy or action, and in that case, they should speak their minds, and by doing so persuading local audiences to follow their logic and build trust. In Chapter 4 Rugh emphasizes the importance of PDOs to be honest and truthful, as it is a crucial fundament of creating a sustainable relationship to the local public and networking circles. However, Rugh specifies that in case the PDO does not personally agree with certain US policy or action, they should refrain from criticizing US institutions and actions. Rugh does not encourage lying, but suggests the PDO refuses to answer to personal opinion questions in those cases.

I agree and would encourage that PDOs should speak their minds when their opinion is aligned with the US policies they are supposed to represent, especially when they see an opportunity to persuade local audiences towards such opinions. In the contrary case, PDOs must be very careful not to contradict US policies, even if it is done by silence, in refusing to comment. In certain situations silence indicates more than words could. These situations also make the experience and training of PDOs very important, since they often have to act upon their own discretion.

The baseline is that PDOs are there to create stable relationships, which cannot exist without a level of trust. To depict this thought, Rugh has quoted Edward R. Murrow, who as Director of USIA, said: “To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful. It is as simple as that.”

Week 3: What kind of “cultural diplomacy” do you think would be most effective as a component of a larger public diplomacy program?

Cultural Diplomacy is different from Public Diplomacy, in that it often is not as strategy oriented as it aims relationship building and fostering mutual trust and understanding by exchanging ideas, art and information – as defined by Milton C. Cummings (In Schneider, 2009).

One of the main arguments opposing forms of public diplomacy deal with the propagandistic perception associated to it, however cultural diplomacy tackles exactly that issue. According to Schneider’s article, MIT, Harvard the New School and other institutions have studied brain processes in determining attitudes towards people, societies, organizations etc., and have come to the conclusion that these attitudes are more likely dependent on emotional stimuli and perception than rational information digestion. These findings point towards the importance of cultural diplomacy as a bridge between different people and nations.

Schneider mentions the great success cultural diplomacy has had during the cold war period, when African-American Jazz artists were sent to play around the world (especially the Socialist countries), where they were deeply admired for their music, and the expression of Jazz, as well as their dissident attitudes towards the United States in the segregation era. This unusual diplomatic task has had very positive effects in signaling the level of freedom of expression as a cultural value of America. After the Cold War these initiatives have been reduced, and shortsightedly seen as unnecessary. Schneider gives many current examples where cultural diplomacy is being an effective diplomatic tool, and areas in which it should be used more, such as the divide between Western and Eastern (Muslim) viewpoints.

According to Rugh, education exchanges, along with American spaces and culture exchanges have similar positive impact on relationship building between the US and foreign publics. While cultural diplomacy might lack in the diplomatic strategy component, these means offer the ethos of emotional bonding to strategic diplomacy for smaller more targeted audiences.

I believe the most effective cultural diplomacy policy includes a good coordinated mixture of all of these components within the public diplomacy realm, which would offer an efficient policy program where each element compliments the others.

Week 2: Do you think PD is too hampered by organizational and institutional contexts? What would fix this? A more robust domestic constituency? Better leadership? Better legislation?

Public Diplomacy is in essence a nation-state based approach to building international communication and relationships. State institutions and organizations are hence difficult to be taken out of the picture of PD, as they are the main actors in initializing PD efforts. As Kiehl points out, “…it is the message, not the messenger, that is key” in PD; however the message is usually produced by an organization or institution who is managing and funding whatever PD takes place anywhere in the world.

A hampered PD as a result of organizational and institutional context might be similar to any public service, in terms of creating a program in the midst of budget constraints, political incentives and public agenda. The ACPD report has enumerated a list of areas for improvement regarding this issue. Their findings suggest the improvement of funding streams of US public diplomacy, based on the effectiveness of programs, as well as broadening the spectrum in some areas, while contracting funding in less effective areas. The main idea behind the ACPD recommendations lies in the difficulty of measuring PD results. The goal of PD is sustainability in relationship building among different global actors, and it suggests commitment. In their findings the ACPD report emphasizes the higher effectiveness of long-term commitment and programs (such as Fulbright), which are relatively hard to measure as they take rather long to be completed and show results. Institutions and organizations, especially in political contexts, often prefer more measurable goals, which are easier to justify financially and present as successful meeting of objectives.

Melissen on the other hand points out the “modern” ways of PD which have come along with the technological advances. In these times the importance of state actors and institutions is shared with many other organizations and civil actors across the globe. According to Melissen the world is not as divided (into nation-states) as it used to be, and PD has to adopt to these developments.

From the findings and recommendations of the ACPD report and Melissen, it is evident that an improved domestic constituency, better leadership and improved legislation are all crucial factors in improving the effectiveness and overall processes of PD, while adapting to fast-changing means of communication.