Wikileaks has hit the press in a major way with the grand revealing of cables that concern countries and leaders around the world. One of the major questions on everyone's mind is "what does this mean for diplomacy?" With so much "dirty laundry" set out for the world to see, it might be hard to conceive of diplomats having the ability to honestly and effectively proceed on their normal agendas. The solution to this dilemma lies in public diplomacy. As we discussed in class, public diplomacy can have wide reaching, yet subtle effects, many of which may not manifest for years.
The benefit of Public Diplomacy over traditional diplomacy is in its subtle nature. Although many world leaders would love to have the ability to transmit a message and have opinions and beliefs instantly change (the Transmission Model of communication), this simply does not work. Public Diplomacy is more about changing attitudes over time in increments. The most prevalent way that this is done now is through international television and radio broadcasts, such as Voice of America. The method is simple: attract individuals rather than coercing them, through programming that appeals to cultural or societal wants. There will never be a good substitute for original national cultural content on broadcast channels, so programmers should not try to completely push it aside. Coopting values and current interests of a society, while still maintaining some subtle message about the intended goal (even if it is just positive feelings in the content) can ultimately provide a greater payoff than overt messaging. For example, Sesame Street has taken off in South Africa because it tailored the show to the South African audience in all aspects. The ultimate goal of the show, promoting good citizenship, social values, and good life lessons, is intact, while still reflecting the current issues in South Africa.
The US, as a country, has traditionally had a hard time keeping a good relationship with the world at large, partially because it is traditionally bad at subtle forms of diplomacy. The US Government should learn from programs like Sesame Street, if they want to gain true effectiveness and garner global support down the road.