Culture Communicates: US Diplomacy That Works

  • Cynthia P. Schneider
Part of the Studies in Diplomacy and International Relations book series (SID)

Abstract

From the earliest days of the American republic, diplomats have recognized the value of cultural diplomacy. In a letter to James Madison penned from Paris, Thomas Jefferson described its goals in words that still apply today: ‘You see I am an enthusiast on the subject of the arts. But it is an enthusiasm of which I am not ashamed, as its object is to improve the taste of my countrymen, to increase their reputation, to reconcile to them the respect of the world and procure them its praise’.2 Cultural diplomacy, ‘the exchange of ideas, information, art and other aspects of culture among nations and their peoples to foster mutual understanding’,3 forms an important component of the broader endeavour of public diplomacy, which basically comprises all that a nation does to explain itself to the world. Since much of cultural diplomacy consists of nations sharing forms of their creative expression, it is inherently enjoyable, and can therefore be one of the most effective tools in any diplomatic toolbox. Cultural diplomacy is a prime example of ‘soft power’, or the ability to persuade through culture, values and ideas, as opposed to ‘hard power’, which conquers or coerces through military might.4

Keywords

Europe Egypt Tempo Defend Toll 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    Iola Brubeck’s lyrics for the satirical musical revue The Real Ambassadors, performed in 1962, from Penny M. von Eschen, ‘Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz, Race, and Empire during the Cold War’, in Reinhold Wagnleitner and Elaine Tyler May (eds), Here, There, and Everywhere: The Foreign Politics of American Popular Culture (Hanover and London: University Press of New England, 2000), p. 168.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Letter dated 20 September 1785, in John P. Kaminski, Citizen Jefferson: The Wit and Wisdom of an American Sage (Madison WI: Madison House, 1994), p. 6.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Milton C. Cummings, Cultural Diplomacy and the United States Government: A Survey (Washington DC: Center for Arts and Culture, 2003), p. 1,www.culturalpolicy.org.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Joseph Nye coined the phrase ‘soft power’. See Joseph S. Nye, The Paradox of American Power (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. 8–9; andGoogle Scholar
  5. Joseph S. Nye, Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics (New York: PublicAffairs, 2004).Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    For example, Finding America’s Voice: A Strategy for Reinvigorating US Public Diplomacy, report of an independent task force sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, chaired by Peter G. Peterson, 2003; Changing Minds, Winning Peace: A New Strategic Direction for US Public Diplomacy in the Arab and Muslim World, report of the Advisory Group on Public Diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim World, chaired by Edward P. Djerejian, 1 October 2003;Google Scholar
  7. Stephen Johnson and Helle Dale, How to Reinvigorate US Public Diplomacy (Washington DC: The Heritage Foundation, 23 April 2003).Google Scholar
  8. 6.
    Walter Laqueur, ‘Save Public Diplomacy’, Foreign Affairs, September/October 1994, vol. 73, no. 5, p. 20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 7.
    David J. Kramer, ‘No Bang for the Buck: Public Diplomacy Should Remain a Priority’, Washington Times, 23 October 2000, http://www/state.gov/r/adcompd/kramer.html;Google Scholar
  10. and Ambassador Kenton Keith, ‘US Public Diplomacy from MAD to Jihad’, CERI conference on US Public Diplomacy, Paris, 3 June 2004.Google Scholar
  11. 8.
    Johan Huizinga, America: A Dutch Historian’s Vision, from Afar and Near (New York: Harper & Row, 1972), pp. 240–41.Google Scholar
  12. 10.
    Christina Klein, Cold War Orientalism: Asia in the Middlebrow Imagination, 1945–61 (Berkeley CA: University of California Press, 2003), pp. 204–8.Google Scholar
  13. 11.
    Frances Stonor Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters (New York: The New Press, 1999), pp. 381–3.Google Scholar
  14. 12.
    Frank A. Ninkovich, The Diplomacy of Ideas: US Foreign Policy and Cultural Relations, 1938–1950 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), pp. 166–7.Google Scholar
  15. 13.
    Yale Richmond, Cultural Exchange and the Cold War (University Park PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2003), p. 158.Google Scholar
  16. On Soviet reactions to encounters with American freedoms, see also Frederick C. Barghoorn, The Soviet Cultural Offensive: The Role of Cultural Diplomacy in Soviet Foreign Policy (Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 1960).Google Scholar
  17. 20.
    Richmond, Cultural Exchange and the Cold War, p. 207, citing Connover’s statement in John S. Wilson’s, ‘Who is Connover? Only We Ask’, New York Times Magazine, 13 September 1959.Google Scholar
  18. 24.
    Bill Nichols, ‘How Rock ‘n’ Roll Freed the World’, USA Today, 6 November 2003.Google Scholar
  19. 25.
    For example, James G. Herschberg, ‘Just Who Did Smash Communism?’, Washington Post, Sunday 27 June 2004, pp. B1 and B5;Google Scholar
  20. Thomas Fuchs, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll in the German Democratic Republic, 1949–1961’, in Reinhold Wagnleitner and Elaine May (eds), Here, There, and Everywhere: The Foreign Politics of American Popular Culture (Hanover and London: University Press of New England, 2000), pp. 192–206.Google Scholar
  21. 26.
    On film, see Lary May, The Big Tomorrow: Hollywood and the Politics of the American Way (Chicago IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), especially pp. 175–265.Google Scholar
  22. On the propagandistic anti-communist films of the 1940s and 1950s, see Stephen J. Whitfield, The Culture of the Cold War (Baltimore MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 127–51.Google Scholar
  23. 28.
    Ninkovich, The Diplomacy of Ideas; Charles Frankel, The Neglected Aspect of Foreign Affairs (Washington DC: Brookings Institution, 1965);Google Scholar
  24. Hans Tuch, Communicating with the World in the 1990s (Washington DC: USIA Alumni Association and the Public Diplomacy Foundation, 1994). See also footnote 5.Google Scholar
  25. 33.
    On the decline in public diplomacy funding, see Juliet Antunes Sablonsky, ‘Recent Trends in Department of State Support for Cultural Diplomacy: 1993–2002’, white paper in the Cultural Diplomacy Research Series, Center for Arts and Culture, 2003, www.culturalpolicy.org.Google Scholar
  26. See also Rosaleen Smyth, ‘Mapping US Public Diplomacy in the Twenty-First Century’, Australian Journal of International Affairs, vol. 55, no. 3, 2001, pp. 421–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 36.
    House Report 105–207 on the 1998 appropriations for USIA calls for eliminating 22 American and 96 foreign national positions, making a reduction of 1488 personnel since 1994. In addition, the budget dictates the closure of America Houses in Munich and Hamburg, and the USIA sections in the embassies in Nigeria and Papua New Guinea; see http://www.congress.gov/cgibin/cpquery/?&dbname=cp105&&r_n=hr207.105&sel=TOC. On the founding and value of the America Houses, see Manuela Aguilar, Cultural Diplomacy and Foreign Policy: German-American Relations, 1955–1968, Studies in Modern European Histoly, vol. 19 (New York: Peter Lang, 1996), pp. 156–70.Google Scholar
  28. 37.
    John. N. Berry III, ‘Librarians are Public Diplomats’, National Journal, vol. 128, issue 12, 15 July 2003, p. 18.Google Scholar
  29. 43.
    George F. Kennan, ‘International Exchange in the Arts’, Perspectives USA, no. 16, 1956, pp. 6–14, cited in Barghoorn, The Soviet Cultural Offensive, p. 342.Google Scholar
  30. 47.
    Margaret J. Wyszomirski, Christopher Burgess and Catherine Peila, International Cultural Relations: A Multi-Country Comparison (Washington DC: Arts International and Center for Arts and Culture, 2003), p. 24; see www.artsinternational.org and www.culturalpolicy.org.Google Scholar
  31. 49.
    Joseph S. Nye, ‘Today, It’s a Question of Whose Story Wins’, latimes.com, 21 July 2004.Google Scholar
  32. 50.
    Christopher Marquis, ‘US Image Abroad Will Take Years to Repair, Official Testifies’, New York Times, 5 February 2004.Google Scholar
  33. 55.
    Cynthia P. Schneider, Diplomacy that Works: ‘Best Practices’ in Cultural Diplomacy (Washington DC: Center for Arts and Culture, 2003), www.culturalpolicy.org.Google Scholar
  34. 56.
    Pew Research Center, America’s Image Further Erodes, Europeans Want Weaker Ties, 18 March 2003, pp. 1–2, http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?ReportlD=175.Google Scholar
  35. 57.
    Pew Research Center, Views of a Changing World 2003, 3 June 2003, pp.1–2, http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?ReportID-185.Google Scholar
  36. 59.
    Delinda C. Hanley, ‘Secretary’s Open Forum Examines Public Diplomacy’, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, January/February 2004, vol. 23, pp. 75–6.Google Scholar
  37. 60.
    Carl Weiser, ‘Report Lists Public Diplomacy Failures’, USA Today, 16 September 2003, p. 13a;Google Scholar
  38. and John A. Paden, ‘America Slams the Door (on its Foot)’, Foreign Affairs, May/June 2003, vol. 82, pp. 8–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 61.
    Richard Lugar, Opening Statement on Public Diplomacy and Islam, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Press Release, 27 February 2003, p. 2.Google Scholar
  40. 62.
    Christopher Marquis, ‘US Image Abroad Will Take Years to Repair’, New York Times, 4 February 2004.Google Scholar
  41. 66.
    See www.radiosawa.com/english; Michael Dobbs, ‘America’s Arab Voice: Radio Sawa Struggles to Make Itself Heard’, The Washington Post, 24 March 2003, p. COl;Google Scholar
  42. Eli Lake, ‘Pop Psychology: How Lionel and J. Lo Can Help Bridge the Gap Between Us and the Arabs’, Washington Post, 4 August 2002, p. B03;Google Scholar
  43. Jan Perlez, ‘US is Trying to Market Itself to Young, Suspicious Arabs’, New York Times, 16 September 2002.Google Scholar
  44. 67.
    Brian Faler, ‘VOA Staff Members Say Government Losing Voice’, Washington Post, 14 July 2004, p. A17.Google Scholar
  45. 69.
    Steven A. Cook, ‘Hearts, Minds, and Hearings’, New York Times, 6 July 2004.Google Scholar
  46. 74.
    Cynthia P. Schneider, ‘There’s an Art to Telling the World about America’, Washington Post, 23 August 2002, p. B3.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Cynthia P. Schneider 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cynthia P. Schneider

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations