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Foreign affairs and political communication

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Presentation on theme: "Foreign affairs and political communication"— Presentation transcript:

1 Foreign affairs and political communication
Impact of (global) media on foreign policy making Media as controlling actor Media as constraining actor Media as intervening actor Media as instrumental actor The use of media/communication by foreign policy makers Public diplomacy

2 Media as controlling actors
“CNN effect” Global media (esp. television) becoming a direct actor in foreign affairs Replacing policy makers Selectively advocating humanitarian intervention Perception/concern of polical and military elites “CNN is the sixteenth member of the security council” (Boutros Boutros Ghali, Former UN Secretary General) “Television’s ability to bring graphic images of pain and outrage into our living rooms has heightened the pressure both for immediate engagement in areas of international crisis and immediate disengagement when events don’t go according to plan” (Madeleine Albright, Former US Secretary of State) “the terrible tragedy of tiananmen was a classic illustration of a powerful new phenomenon: the ability of the global communications revolution to drive policy” (James Baker, Former US Secretary of State) Based on misconceptions amongst political and military leaders over role of media in Vietnam war Between mixed and contradictory results from academic studies into CNN effect Selective media focus on crises and media advocacy at best “necessary but not sufficient” condition for intervention

3 CNN effect vs. manufacturing consent
Are media independent, interested actors pushing for intervention? Or are governments encouraging selective coverage of atrocities to help generate support for intervention they pursue? Media as enemies or henchmen of political establishment? Herman (1993) doubts both the watchdog and the adversary model of media Media relying heavily on government sources, especially in context of foreign affairs Governments as primary definers of media content and framing Structural (economic) constraints Conservative expectation of patriotic media; in some contrast with notion of impartial reporting

4 Media use in foreign negotiations
Diplomacy, the role of ambassadors, demoted From representing country, communicating government positions, negotiating agreements, gathering information, recommending actions to policy makers To a mere social function International negotiations now held directly between heads of state/ministers Openly, or secretly, or through the media Mass media as core information source Alternative and mostly superior to intelligence services, departmental and diplomatic information channels Using media to directly communicate to foreign governments, instead of using slow diplomatic channels

5 Media as constraining actors
24-hour real-time television puts pressure on governments to act Pay-off between appearing assertive and acting responsibly International actors no longer have time to negotiate in lengthy process, without public attention Public opinion becomes a more significant factor in international politics Foreign policy making Traditional view that governments are less constrained by public opinion than in domestic policy making Public opinion more incoherent, inconsistent, unstable Little public interest (at least in US) Public opinion more manageable Foreign issues are “unobtrusive” Agenda-setting function stronger than in obtrusive issues Media less critical, because less expectation, pressure, regulation (in UK) to produce balanced coverage

6 Media as intervening actor
Political brokerage Direct through television formats that bring together conflicting camps for debate (examples Nightline and Cronkite’s brokering between Israel and Egypt) Indirect through, for example, interviewing political leaders who otherwise are not in diplomatic contact with other countries Interviews with Fidel Castro for US and other Western governments repeatedly only source to gather information about his position on issues

7 Media as instrumental actor
Media diplomacy Using media as channels to transmit messages to other international actors Summits as media events Effects of media events on diplomacy: Trivialising role of ambassador Breaking diplomatic deadlock and generating conditions conducive to negotiations “sealing effect” Using media to cultivate public support for negotiations

8 Communicating foreign policy
Public diplomacy “to understand and inform, and influence foreign audiences and broaden the dialogue between American citizens and institutions and their counterparts abroad” (White House Office of the Press Secretary 1998) “Public diplomacy, practiced in harmony with traditional diplomacy, will enable us to advance our interest, to protect our security, and to continue to provide the moral basis for our leadership in the world” (Evelyn Lieberman, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy, 1999) Claimed to be distinct from propaganda and public relations “It is not public relations. It is not flakking for a Government agency or even flakking for America. It is trying to relate, beyond government-to-government relationships, the private institutions, the individuals, the long-term contacts, the accurate understanding, the full range of perceptions of America to the rest of the world, both to those who are friendly or inclined to be our partners or allies from one issue to another to those who are hostile, with some credibility or impartiality.” (Duffy, United States Information Agency, USIA)

9 Elements of public diplomacy
Media diplomacy/public statements Communicating decisions / Adressing multiple audiences Public information Use of technology, to make information available, and appear transparent International broadcasting services Government-run foreign broadcasts Making footage available OR running your own global broadcast British Foreign Office fully funds BBC world service Voice of America Education and cultural programmes Cultural, academic and student exchange Cultural diplomacy “Sociological propaganda” (Ellul 1965) Political action Democracy promotion through democracy-building agencies Penetrating political systems and civil society in other countries Supporting NGOs and pro-democratic grassroots organizations

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