Back Issues of PDAA Today

Back issues of PDAA Today, PDAA’s quarterly print newsletter are now online and available for download.

It’s All in the Smithsonian Details

(Courtesy, Beatrice Camp)

Editor’s note: In a new (Jan-Feb 2014) Foreign Service Journal article, Bea Camp tells about the value of her detail to the Smithsonian Institution, expanding on her talk at the 3 December 2014 PDAA lunch program. Below is an excerpt and link to the entire article.

Today, thanks to the establishment of a State Department detail position at the Smithsonian in 2009, State bureaus and posts are able to take greater […]

Public Diplomacy is Flourishing–Spread the Word

Editor’s note: This post by Nancy Snow, Abe Fellow and Senior Visiting Research Professor, Keio University in Tokyo, comments on the 1 October 2013 essay appearing on about the demise of USIA. Reprinted with permission.

This funereal op-ed is so fundamentally flawed that it is more like a drive-by shooting. Shooting USIA in the back is an unfortunate metaphor for the context of public diplomacy since many of us who engage in public diplomacy […]

14 Years of Undermining Public Diplomacy

Editor’s note: The following excerpt is from an article appearing on, the Web site of U.S. News and World Report, on 1 October 2013.

There have been plenty of bad days in U.S. history. But Oct. 1st should be higher on the list than most people think.

On that date in 1999, President Bill Clinton formally abolished the U.S. Information Agency, spinning off its broadcasting element into an independent agency and merging most of […]

Cuba — Ripe for a Public Diplomacy Initiative

Photography class, University of the Arts, Havana (A. Kotok)

February 2, 2013

Alan Kotok, PDAA’s newsletter and Web site editor, returned on 29 January 2013 from an eight-day University of Iowa alumni seminar in Cuba, and highlights public diplomacy opportunities for the U.S. to exploit, before others beat us to it.

We returned this week from an eight-day study tour of Cuba, mainly in Havana and the southern coastal city of Cienfuegos. The experience […]

Was It Public Diplomacy or a Telling Of America’s Story?

Fred Becchetti, USIA 1962-89

August 11, 2011

In 1962 on my first day at USIA Edward R. Murrow greeted me at the front door of 1776 Pennsylvania Avenue. He smiled and said good morning to me as he hurried out the main door to his waiting car.

Somewhat stunned by seeing him, I smiled back and thought how great to be greeted by the USIA director himself on my arrival from Arizona to help him […]

Thai Memoir

(Prachanart Viriyaraks/Flickr)

Dick Virden

October 2012

Editor’s note: Dick Virden offers his first-hand observations on countering insurgencies, with potential lessons for today. Virden retired from the Senior Foreign Service in 2004 and lives in Plymouth, Minnesota. This essay first appeared in and is reprinted with permission of the journal American Diplomacy.

We Americans tend to forget that our struggles with insurgencies did not begin (and won’t end) with Iraq and Afghanistan. More than a […]