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A critical revi…

by on May 9, 2012

A critical review of the report of the Advisory Committee on Cultural Diplomacy


US Department of State, September 2005








This report commissioned by Congress in March 2004, and published by the U.S. State Department in 2005, was charged with advising the Secretary of State on programs and policies to advance the use of cultural diplomacy in U.S. foreign policy. The report paid particular emphasis on enhancing the very best of American culture, strengthening the profile of its creative and artistic personnels abroad. Developing strategies for increasing public-private sector partnerships to sponsor cultural exchange programs that promote the national interest of the United States, was also a key emphasis to the report.




The report very explicitly, and without prejudice, outlines the contribution of cultural diplomacy in America’s past political endeavours, address the misconceptions, as well as shared light on how its usage can play an integral role in solving or tackling America’s current and future problems and challenges.




Bearing in mind, the under-representation of, or the peripheral role of cultural diplomacy in the foreign policy decision-making process of the United States in recent times, this report, chaired by prominent scholars and personnels in the field of diplomacy, signalled a fundamental shift, one that aimed to fully utilize the essence and tools of cultural diplomacy.




Contrary to the current inhospitable attitudes towards cultural diplomacy within the American political system, cultural diplomacy has historically (as demonstrated during the Cold War period), being an inherent feature in America’s foreign policy. Indeed, the values, ideals and practices of the forefathers have played a great role in shaping as well as being a major feature in U.S. foreign policy. However, its application in recent times, has, at best, being largely confined to pursuing short-term political goals and practices that undermine or compromise the true practices of cultural diplomacy (cultural exchange and understanding).




Taking into consideration, the current nature of the international environment, the current state of affairs, the dynamics and scope of current security threats (Terrorism, and a likelihood of Nuclear Proliferation by rogue states, for example), and future challenges, this report, which some may argue as well over due, has, nonetheless, in setting out to place cultural diplomacy at the heart of America’s foreign policy, made a compelling case for not only the need for genuine effective use of diplomacy, but also, highlights the consequences that may arise from failing to incorporate or utilize it as a foreign policy tool.




In sum, although part of the recommendations by the Advisory Committee on Cultural Diplomacy emphasize the need to expand international cultural exchange, but the need for a heavy concentration of resources and an emphasis on partnership with the private sector who may be motivated by creativity and artistic value thus, risked it being commercialized.




Furthermore, the report places far too much emphasis on the promotion of, and the implementation of strategies largely aimed at boosting the national interests of the United States. It concentrated less on advancing the understanding of the cultures of the international community – the basic principle of, and arguably, the most viable way of conducting cultural diplomacy. Thus, making the prospect of a feasible and sustainable cultural diplomacy initiative highly unlikely.







Advisory Committee on Cultural Diplomacy. (2005). CULTURAL DIPLOMACY: THE LINCHPIN OF PUBLIC DIPLOMACY. Available: Last accessed 5th May 2012.




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