Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Stranger in a Strange Land

The recent story in the New York Times, "Military Admits Planting News in Iraq," about how the U.S. government paid for positive items in Iraqi newspapers certainly gives "public diplomacy" a bad name, even though there now seem to be several centers legitimating its academic position at places like Tufts and USC.

After the Charlotte Beers debacle, our current Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy has been maintaining a very low profile website, which is a real loss from an e-government perspective. Many of the web materials created by Beers in the wake of September 11 seem to have been pulled down, although some like Muslim Life in the America survive (while Islam in the United States is no more).

One of the interesting things about being abroad is seeing media coverage about the United States or the war in Iraq that isn't intended for a U.S. audience. The Internet can create a similar alienation effect, as I have discovered by looking at "psy-ops" military leaflets dropped in Iraq and Afghanistan that were posted on the CentCom website and obviously not intended to appeal to the moral positions of stakeholders in the States.

Ironically, the coverage of the war in Iraq in Voice of America presents more of the contentiousness of the current debate about withdrawal than many mainstream media organs. And publications from the International Information Programs of the U.S. Department of State contain authors who are less conservative than those honored by the NEA, as Writers on America demonstrates.

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Blogger Julia Lupton said...

I checked out USC's Center for Public Diplomacy. They actually have a games contest: Design a game that demonstrates the situations and techniques of public diplomacy.

If public diplomacy is the new politics (=war by other means), then it needs to be translated into a genre that young people can identify with. "Diplomatic" on so many fronts ...

5:47 AM  

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