Our ability to communicate U.S. objectives to countries around the world is supported by our public diplomacy efforts. These programs include communications initiatives such as the Voice of America, exchange efforts such as the Fulbright fellowships, and direct work by the State Department’s public diplomacy officers. The U.S. National Strategy for Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communication guides public diplomacy in the State Department. The State Department must have a clear plan for meeting the U.S. government’s overall strategic communication objectives just as the new Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review will outline the strategies and tools that our diplomats should use to meet the goals of the President’s National Security Strategy.
The Government Accountability Office noted earlier this year that it has repeatedly recommended that State develop an agency-wide plan “to integrate its diverse public diplomacy activities and direct them towards common objectives,” but the department has thus far not followed this recommendation.106 In order to ensure that our embassies around the world are presenting a unified vision of U.S. values and policies, the Obama administration should make this agency-wide strategy its top public diplomacy priority.
The Obama administration should also work to create region-specific comprehensive strategies, which draw from the State Department’s overall objectives. This work should recognize not only diversity between regions, but also within them, and incorporate the need to work with immigrant communities which may shape opinion in their home countries.
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