Monday, April 18, 2011

Public Diplomacy Guidelines: An Oxymoron?

This blog post feels especially strange, I'm blogging about a blog post about a report about how to conduct diplomacy.

I'm pretty much sticking with my theme of writing about the UK's public diplomacy, seeing as I've got a bit of a lengthy paper coming up on that exact subject. Anyways, the report here itself was a quick read - basically, it's a series of guidelines produced by the Foreign Office in order to streamline policy actions across the ministry and for the future. Or, as blogger Robin Brown puts it, "the steps that the UK can take to exert influence on an issue or situation while recognizing the the UK is unlikely to be able to control outcomes." Granted, it also seems incredibly formulaic, which I don't think allows for the necessities of thinking on one's feet.

Public diplomacy is uncertain. Determining what it is can be difficult, as well as what it is not. Measuring its success is even more impossible. PD is so ambiguous, and while the FCO recognizes its effects are hard to quantify, the charts, boxes, and step by step directions are too formulaic for the flexibility required on the international stage. This seems out of step with what I've so far seen in my research as successful British public maybe there's something to say about this approach after all.

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