The Public Diplomacy of Other Countries:

Implications for the United States

ID-79-28: Published: Jul 23, 1979. Publicly Released: Jul 23, 1979.

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Public diplomacy, the international communications, cultural, and educational activities in which the public is involved, has become a principal instrument of foreign policy for the United States and other nations.

By comparison with both allies and adversaries, the U.S. Government investment in public diplomacy is low. In absolute terms, the United States is outspent by France and the Soviet Union and is nearly equalled by West Germany. Despite differences of formal structure, both American and the Western European organizational arrangements for conducting public diplomacy provide for active governmental participation in a manner generally assuring appropriate professional and operating independence for such activities as news broadcasting, education, and cultural relations. At the same time the arrangements maintain a degree of official oversight and control sufficient to satisfy the legislatures that such activites are being carried out within a broad framework of national interests and objectives. Both models also tend to confirm that the cultural function and the policy articulation function need not and should not be administratively insulated from each other. A far sighted case can be made that wherever and whenever allied nations have a common message to deliver to third countries, common sense would dictate the use of common media. With few exceptions, however, efforts at cooperative public diplomacy have made little headway. Many officers of the U.S. International Communication Agency continue to spend significant amounts of personal funds in fulfilling official representational duties overseas. The continued shortfall places a personal burden on the conscientious overseas officer and inhibits optimum cultivation of valuable personal contacts.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The International Communication Agency should review the need and possibility for expanding and enriching its English-teaching program worldwide; and should study the utility and feasibility of such a project, including the question as to which agency, if any, should be assigned the task.

    Agency Affected:


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