Focusing on SMARTer Diplomacy

via Chasing Glenn Beck

A couple weeks ago, the Diplomatic Courier published an article about the need to emphasize on SMART objectives in order to succeed in public diplomacy. The author, Guy Golan, compare the similarities between running political campaigns in the United States and establishing public diplomacy abroad. He mentions that instead of “winning the hearts and minds” of foreign publics through generalized public diplomacy programs, governments should focus more on specific objectives because of cultural differences throughout the world.

Specifically, Golan presents two cases comparing political support from Christians in the United States and U.S. approval from Muslims abroad. In the United States, it is unlikely for U.S. presidential candidates to gain support from all Christians in the country because they each have different political opinions even though they share similar religious views. Similarly, the United States is not able to gain approval from Muslims all over the world because of their “multi-sectorial, multi-national, and multi-ethnic composition”.

Still, U.S. public diplomacy fails to identify this misconception. Over the past several years, the U.S. government has invested hundreds of millions of dollars towards PD programs to win the hearts and minds of Muslims across the globe. Despite the efforts, public opinion towards the U.S. has remained the same.

Golan presents an interesting argument about U.S. public diplomacy. In order for the United States to establish more successful public diplomacy programs, the government should focus in identifying SMART—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound—objectives. In the article, Golan presents the example of increasing the educational scholarship program among women in Sierra Lione by 15 percent within a twelve month period. By focusing on SMART public diplomacy objectives, instead of generalized grandiose goals, the U.S. would be able to better manage its public diplomacy.

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