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Liberal Public Diplomacy in a Realist World?

October 6, 2010

Despite the lack of postings I’ve been beavering away- you can expect some discussion of the British Council’s role in UK PD in the next few days.

The other thing that I’ve been chewing over is a complex of related issues about the ends of public diplomacy and the way they are (or are not) conceptualized.  What follows is very compressed and has implications that I will develop in coming posts so excuse me if it is not entirely clear.

I’ve blogged before about the way that action can be related to an implicit or explicit socially prevalent social theory.  As an undergraduate studying International Relations there was a debate between realism and liberalism (or its related ideas) running through much of the literature.  This had practical policy consequences: should we approach foreign policy as the management of a shifting set of relations that are fundamentally unchanging? Or should we approach the world as something that is being transformed in a progressive direction?

In looking at recent UK PD it seems to me that most of the resources are devoted to projects that aim at resolving conflict through social transformation rather than using PD to support/manage/influence interstate relations.  In a world where the relative position of the West is declining relative to rising powers that are more strongly committed to norms of sovereignty what are the implications for PD?

This is a bit obscure but I’ll come back to this later.

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