Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith A. McHale today said the United States has brought public diplomacy perspectives in at the highest levels, and emphasized innovation in the field to support its foreign policy directives.
“The world is changing. To say we live in a changing world is either the greatest understatement of our time, or the most frequently made statement by public officials today.” -Ms. McHale
She said both may be true. She stressed that in the context of public diplomacy, it cannot be stated enough. She added we live in a changed and changing world and inhabit a moment of uncertainty and possibility that allows for and requires entirely new ways of thinking.
“In January 2010, seven months after I assumed my position, Bono shared ten ideas to kick off the new decade on the op-ed page of the New York Times. One of the accompanying graphics really stood out for me.” -Ms. McHale
According to Ms. McHale, for most of human history, power has been held by the privileged few sitting atop an ever-widening base of people in a pyramid of systematic social control.
She noted that eighteen months later, in the midst of the Arab Spring, and with all the events happening in Egypt, the idea of a pyramid turned on its head is an even more fitting metaphor.
Ms. McHale elaborated that in a world where power and influence truly belongs to the many, the world must engage with more people in more places.
“These new challenges force us to ask: How do we stand out and respond in such a crowded and complex environment? Our answer is simple: By taking our public diplomacy into the marketplace of ideas.” -Ms. McHale
She underscored that the pyramid of power flipped because people all around the world are clamoring to be heard, and demanding to shape their own futures.
Ms. McHale stated that being in the marketplace of ideas means using the same venues and platforms that communities and activists use.
“So we have worked to find the important conversations and respectfully add our voice. To proactively engage with global media, and to push back against inaccurate information. To tell our own story where others are telling stories about us.” -Ms. McHale
She emphasized that the inverted pyramid makes integrating a consideration of the attitudes and opinions of foreign publics an essential component of the foreign policy decision-making process in the 21st century.
Ms. McHale cited that just as Tunisia ignited a wider trend in the Middle East, it is a bellwether of what is happening globally. She said citizens around the world are increasingly driving political, social, and economic trends.
“In this rapidly evolving landscape, as we seek to advance our foreign policy and enhance the security and prosperity of our world, our approach must have public diplomacy-and the citizens it seeks to engage-at its core.” -Ms. McHale