Although we have gone a long way from old to new public diplomacy, it is widely accepted that it underperforms. We thus aim to offer strong grounds for the term strategic discursive public diplomacy and to show how taking this path can fundamentally refocus and improve the practice of public diplomacy. Strategic refers to the need to re-focus the thematic orientation of public diplomacy: instead of working predominantly on issues of culture and education public diplomacy should focus on the mounting threats common for all. The discursive element boils down to a shift of public diplomacy towards fully explaining one’s policies and showing how they contribute to the delivery of global public goods. Strategic discursive public diplomacy, then, focuses on the principal issues of global politics and engages foreign publics in an open debate with the aim to communicate standpoints, but also listen and reply to potential counter-arguments. This becomes an important means in dealing with the accountability, transparency and legitimacy deficits of global politics. This re-conceptualization is applied in a number of cases, such as the (a) debate on growth and development, (b) climate change and (c) Iran and nuclear proliferation. Taking the strategic discursive path bears particularly significant implications for diplomacy and world politics since it renders public diplomacy more profoundly political and shall facilitate the delivery of foreign policy goals within a more developed and aware global public sphere. Opening venues with foreign publics can be seen as a form of foreign intervention. In some cases, this may sideline or even go against a government’s entrenched position thus potentially creating friction between governments. At the same time, however, it carries the potential of reshuffling political alignments at a global level and changing the contours of the global political environment.
- public diplomacy
- foreign policy