Evaluate the Success of the Obama Administration's Public Diplomacy

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Evaluate the success of the Obama Administration’s public diplomacy By Venita Subramanian

Abstract
Public Diplomacy is seen by many as a governing factor of Obama’s foreign policy, “the soft power president”. In an attempt to improve the public image of the United States, Barrack Obama addresses his global audience through his various speeches and campaigns in support of his foreign policy agenda. Although the speeches seem to be over ambitious and targeted, the administration is often seen struggling to deliver. This essay has been premised around the argument that there exists a direct relationship between the impact of foreign policy of a country and its public diplomacy, and the existing imbalance between the two in view of the U.S foreign policy under the Obama administration. This essay has been structured into three main analyses, with the first one focusing on the incoherence of the U.S. foreign policy and its scrutiny by scholars in this field of research. The second focus is predicated based on the existing imbalance between policy and public diplomacy, and finally the view on Obama’s message to the Arab world. The essay further concludes with some key recommendations. The argument in this essay is in isolation from the Wikileaks cable leakage to maintain strict focus on the role played by the Obama administration in maintaining their strategic relations. Although Wikileaks is currently playing a major role in tarnishing U.S.’ global standing, the leak, according to the author, has no direct implication to U.S. public engagement efforts. Wikileaks however, reiterates the existing “say-do gap” between policy and diplomacy. In the CNAS America’s Extended handbook, Lynch examines the extent to which Obama’s public engagement strategy has been successful. “Public engagement is no silver bullet. If policies are unpopular, no amount of snazzy marketing will make them beloved. If national interests are fundamentally at odds, no amount of dialogue will align them. Practitioners of public engagement can aspire only to explain the motivation behind unpopular policies, put them in context, and highlight the many areas where interests and values do overlap.” Another challenge the Obama administration faces it to strike the right balance between the long term goals of establishing relations and the short term demands that needs to be addressed immediately. However it is worthwhile to assume that Obama’s popularity has definitely been conducive for the “re-presentation” of America through the eyes of the world. “According to Gallup surveys, the overall global views of American leadership have risen by 17 points in the year Obama has been president.”

U.S. Foreign Policy
Prior to evaluating the impact of the administration’s engagement strategy and public diplomacy success, it is vital to examine the foreign policy of the U.S in the current Obama era and the difference between rhetoric and implementation. Noam Chomsky, a world renowned political activist and the professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, criticized Obama’s foreign policy as nothing but an extension of Bush’s second term as president where the policy shifted from aggressive enforcement of hard power to negotiations. Chomsky also made an interesting comparison of Obama and Bush to the Cuban missile crisis. During the Kennedy administration, the planners were crafting decisions that would consequentially result in the elimination of Britain. In response to this, the advisor delineated this “special relationship” with Britain as “our lieutenant, the fashionable word is ‘partner’. Chomsky further states that the Bush administration deemed the world as ‘lieutenants’, as seen in Bush’s actions in the war in Iraq and his indifference to what the world thought of about the invasion. His arrogance not only resulted in a blaring antagonism towards the U.S but also resulted in a major decline of brand U.S and its popularity. Various...
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