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Back Issues of PDAA Today

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

14 Years of Undermining Public Diplomacy

Editor’s note: The following excerpt is from an article appearing on USNews.com, 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 the rest into the Department of State. The effort was the product of a curious bipartisan alliance between conservative Sen. Jesse Helms and liberal Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and its effects were far reaching – shooting U.S. public diplomacy in the back with some six bullets.

The first bullet was the dismantling of an organization with talented people knowledgeable and devoted to public diplomacy – i.e., informing key foreign “publics” about the United States. Personal exchanges, fellowships, magazines, film, radio, TV and later the Internet were all among the means and media used.

The second bullet was the placement of some of these functions in the Department of State. State’s role is diplomacy – working with officials in foreign governments and multilateral organizations. That is rather different from engaging artists, journalists, religious leaders, politicians, students and professors about either the basics or subtleties of the U.S. and its people. The head of USIA was responsible for personnel, policy and budget matters. All of these key elements are jumbled and diminished in State’s aptly-named corner of D.C., which is called Foggy Bottom.

Full text: http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/world-report/2013/10/01/public-diplomacy-is-still-being-undermined-by-bill-clintons-budget-cuts

 

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