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    Found Buried Draft Post from April 2007: “Entrepreneurial Public Diplomacy” as 5GW

    Phil writes a comment at Mountain Runner on public diplomacy that is very interesting:

    We are all aware of how non-state actors like al-Qaeda and Hezbollah can run more effective PD operations than the most advanced states. There is a lesson in this. The solution to our PD problem will not come from government, rather it will come from citizens who have an interest in public diplomacy who will take the initiative and use the technology we all have access to and just do it. We need to start thinking in terms of an “entrepreneurial public diplomacy”. What is required is a change in our conceptual framework.
    Let’s do a thought experiment. Let’s say we decided to create a non-profit whose purpose was to do public diplomacy, what projects would it undertake? Documentary films, audio speeches distributed on cassette tape, short films distributed on Youtube or emailed from cell phone to cell phone, lectures by pro-liberal democracy muslims, graphic novels in arabic telling stories of arab liberal democrats fighting authoritarianism and fundamentalism, etc. There are a lot of options and obviously some trial and error will be involved in determining what works, but the reality is that we don’t need government to do this, we can do it ourselves.

    There is something 5GW-ish about this idea.

    This could be a method for Strategic Citizens and/or Socio-Political Entrepreneurs to influence/change/alter/effect the world around them with a pretty good potential return based on the costs involved with low-risk.

    I found this while looking for an old post. It was a draft from April 2007 and had never been published. I guess I just forgot about it.

    3 Responses

    1. You might just want to check out Avaaz.org (in particular, its Stop the Clash of Civilizations YouTube video)…

    2. “the reality is that we don’t need government to do this, we can do it ourselves.”

      To follow up on this dated post, the reality is the people cannot do this for themselves. “Citizen diplomacy” as it is commonly called has limits. Add to this the reach of private media, news being a major “pillar” of public diplomacy, curtailed, misunderstood, or ignored. The blogosphere is one thing, but where does news originate and where do events get their “shape”: from news media and state or state-like entities.

      Governments must engage in public diplomacy, or whatever it is called, to get and keep issues the media, in whatever form, ignores, doesn’t feel is front-page worthy, or can’t access, in front of people.

      Further, there is the essential requirement to put context on events. Some may call that spin, but if honest, it is simply additional information. In today’s abbreviated information cycle, the “paradox of plenty” – a wealth of information and a poverty of attention – means too few understand the what and why, including the history. Blogs and twitter and Facebook and Google aren’t enough and mostly rely on a “pull” by some person. “Push” is still required.

    3. Hey Matt,
      If I were writing that comment today I would phrase some things differently.
      I definitely believe that the government needs to have an effective and sophisticated public diplomacy capability and I hope that your efforts to bring that about are successful. This is not an either/or argument. We need both government public diplomacy AND a civil society effort. There is nothing about the competition of ideas and perceptions in general or more specifically communicating with and influencing foreign publics that requires that it be done solely by government. In fact the private sector is already doing it. American businesses, entertainment and news media, educational institutions, religious institutions, political activists, sporting leagues etc. are engaging foreign publics every day. We need a full spectrum effort that includes government, private sector and joint public-private sector activities; government effort alone will be not enough to contend in today’s information environment. We have a vibrant, enterprising, imaginative and resourceful civil society that needs to be marshaled to participate in the competition of ideas and perceptions. This will not be a top-down, centralized effort but rather will be a campaign waged by a “distributed network of autonomous agents”.

      There are so many possible examples of how this can be done, but I’ll just give you one. There’s this organization called the Armstrong Strategic Insights Group which is “a professional services group providing analysis, recommendations, and programming for the struggle for minds and wills in the modern global information environment.” AISG is an entrepreneurial venture designed to participate in the competition of ideas and perceptions. That’s what I am arguing for and that’s what you yourself are doing. So I don’t see how you can argue that it can’t be done.

      In the current issue of Foreign Affairs, Anne-Marie Slaughter says:

      “Finally, the United States must recognize the necessity of orchestrating networks of public, private, and civic actors to address global problems. The era of government formulating and executing policy entirely on its own is over, even with a revitalized U.S. government that has greater social and economic mandate. Outsourcing government functions to private and civic contractors is not the answer, however; government officials must instead learn to orchestrate networks of these actors and guide them toward collaborative solutions. ”

      Citizens outside of government need to realize that they don’t have to just sit around passively waiting for government to take action, that they can and should be active participants in the “struggle for minds and wills”. And those in government need to realize that given the current “global information environment” their efforts will be incomplete if they don’t take into consideration what decentralized, distributed civil society actors can bring to the competition.

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