On Sonenshine’s response to U.S. P.D. challenges

Sonenshine outlined a few issues of agreement and contention she had with with Don Bishop’s critic of U.S. public diplomacy, but the overall message seemed to relay the idea that she agreed we needed to change, without really making change. She expressed lots of agreement that we can and need to “do better” to organize a coherent set of strategic imperatives in this complex world. However, she strongly rejected that notion that current programs were merely “feel good” as inaccurate and offensive. In continued defense of PD programs and people, she cited the difficulty of attaining PD reform as a function of constraints on resources. Sympathizing with how much pd officers already have on their plate, it does make sense that an overarching strategic doctrine is not easy to develop whilst multitasking.

Who is to undertake herding cats? How can we make US pd play a larger role in diplomacy, foreign policy, and national security. It’s state as more than just a collection of programs is seemingly, as we’ve discussed before, a function of whether or not the head of the embassy “gets it”.

How is strategic coherence supposed to be measured? Does it imply tactical uniformity? or are goals and tactics conflated?  We can have a coherent end goal in each country, roughly “make them like us”, but  our way tackling, or even if we need to address, issues such as “communicating about how to deal with religious divides” varies. There’s no one right way to do it, its case by case. Looking from the outside, things would look chaotic. I would think there is no one metric to measure strategic uniformity.


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