Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication

The Paradox of US Public Diplomacy:

Its Rise and "Demise"

 A Special Report for

the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication

Februrary 2014

**Updated: May 2014**

Bruce Gregory

Bruce Gregory
Adjunct Professor
George Washington University
Georgetown University


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Report Summary

U.S. public diplomacy faces a paradox. As diplomacy's public dimension increasingly dominates study and practice, public diplomacy has less value as a term and conceptual subset of diplomacy. It marginalizes what is now mainstream.

This report examines transformational changes in diplomacy's 21st century context: permeable borders and power diffusion, new diplomatic actors and issues, digital technologies and social media, and whole of government diplomacy. It critically assesses implications for diplomatic roles and risks, foreign ministries and diplomatic missions, and strategic planning. In an attempt to bridge scholarship and practice, the report explores operational and architectural consequences for diplomacy in a world that is more transparent, informal, and complex.



The author is grateful to the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication at George Washington University for its support for this report. Thanks go to Sean Aday, Paula Causey, Kathy Fitzpatrick, Barry Fulton, Donna Oglesby, Vivian Walker, and Betsy Whitaker who took time from busy schedules to comment helpfully on an early draft as well as to dozens of students in courses at George Washington University and Georgetown University who collaborated in exploring many of these ideas. Acknowledgement is also due to scholars associated with the Future for Diplomacy: Integrative Diplomacy in the 21st Century project at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations, 'Clingendael,' whose insights are prompting fresh thinking in diplomacy's public dimension.

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