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Review of report!

by on May 3, 2012

Section II: Critical Review of a Recent Report

‘Cultural Diplomacy-The Linchpin of Public Diplomacy’

A Report by the Advisory Committee on Cultural Diplomacy (US department of State, 2005).


The report comes at a time when America’s diplomactic relations and its moral standing was under criticism after the unfolding of its war on terrror. The invasion of Iraq and the shocking incidents of U.S heavyhandeness in the case of Abu Gharib incidents showed the ‘erosion of trust and credibility’ and seemingly failure of U.S. initiatives to win the minds and heart of muslim community (Report of the advisory committee on cultural diplomacy 2005, p.7).  Noting, the lack of traditional public support for art and cultural diplomacy during peace time, it suggest creation of enduring structures for the practice of effective cultural diplomacy seeing its role in enhancing security of the contry (ibid. 1). The report sees culture as ‘point of access and interest, opening doors when certain doors are closed for political reasons’ (ibid. 15).  Evidently, the report notes the need for long term commitment for cultural diplomacy initiatives highlighting the importance of the role culture can play in U.S public diplomacy.

Further, the report highlights many role of cultural diplomacy notably fostering the growth of civil society, providing neutral platform for people-to-people contact, counterbalancing misunderstanding, hatred and terrorism, and providing positive agenda for cooperation in spite of policy difference among others. Similarly, its recommendations are many, calling for increase funding for public diplomacy, fund for translation projects, and most importantly to expand international cultural exchange programs with the Islamic world [ibid. pp.17- 18].


Evidently, many of its findings and recommendations stress the importance of cultural aspect in public diplomacy for strengthening America’s image and subsequent result in securing U.S. interest abroad. However, in instance it appears rhetorical without showing practical ways of evaluating such initiatives.   For instance, use of culture to counterbalancing misunderstanding, hatred and terrorism effectively hide the overall failure of the government policies. It is seen necessary that public diplomacy must be used as a preventive rather than counter-balancing strategy. The use of cultural guise behind hidden national agenda might end up undermining the very role culture out to play in building confidence and mutual understanding among different communities. Insofar, considering the nature of political environment and the current rift between supposedly western culture and Islamic world, for instance, the call for growth of civil society [part of the democratization agenda], ends up embedding culture in national agenda which might prove counter- productive.

However, from a differing perspective, the report highlights important discrepancies in U.S. public diplomacy and many of its recommendations if followed with the rights intentions along with proper evaluation mechanism might strengthen the need for cultural sensitiveness in its dealings with the Muslim world. As such one could argue that the report makes a compelling case for highlighting the importance of culture in America’s public diplomacy initiatives to win the minds and heart of the Muslim world. Nevertheless, it is seen important to have effective mechanism to monitor and evaluate progress in the said field. However, for cultural diplomacy to be successful the report rightly highlights the need for long-term commitment and one could add that such initiatives must not be guided by temporary political agenda of the government. [550]


Report of the Advisory Committee on Cultural Diplomacy (2005), ‘Cultural Diplomacy: The Linchpin of Public Diplomacy’, U.S Department of State September 2005.pp.1-28. Available from <> [25th April 2012]


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