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Philip Seib
Philip Seib is professor of journalism and public diplomacy and professor of international relations at the University of Southern California. He served as director of USC’s Center on Public Diplomacy 2009-2013. His most recent book is Real-Time Diplomacy: Politics and Power in the Social Media Era.

Entries by Philip Seib

The Case for a More Proactive U.S. Public Diplomacy

(0) Comments | Posted November 24, 2014 | 12:12 PM

Much of American public diplomacy, like much of the rest of U.S. foreign policy, is reactive. When a crisis erupts, policymakers respond as best they can to limit the damage. In this social media era, they are often outpaced by those who are better prepared to use new communication tools...

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When Addressing ISIL, Don't Forget Al Qaeda

(0) Comments | Posted September 8, 2014 | 12:10 PM

Whatever it takes, ISIL needs to be crushed. There is no doubt about that, particularly because its ranks include an estimated 2,000 Europeans and anywhere from a dozen to a hundred Americans. Those who survive the fighting may head for home, well trained in the basics of terrorism and a...

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The Real Social Media Battleground

(0) Comments | Posted August 26, 2014 | 7:44 PM

Much has been made of the contests for credibility that take place on social media during conflict. In the ongoing Gaza war, Facebook, Twitter and other online forums have featured the claims of Hamas versus those of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The current fighting in Iraq has seen continual...

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In Syria, a Venue for Collaborative Public Diplomacy

(0) Comments | Posted August 6, 2014 | 12:35 PM

Finding any encouraging news coming out of Syria is difficult. The Bashar Assad regime clearly will pay any price to retain power, inflicting misery upon those parts of the population it can reach. Parts of Syria, however, remain outside the control of the government and the similarly vile extremist groups...

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The Reality of Kurdistan

(0) Comments | Posted June 16, 2014 | 8:35 PM

ERBIL -- Chaotic Mosul is just 60 miles away, but people here in Erbil have little concern that the fighting will spread this way. This is the home of the Kurdish Regional Government and its own army, the pesh merga, which over generations has built a reputation for fierce courage....

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'Arab Fatigue' and Today's Middle East

(0) Comments | Posted May 30, 2014 | 12:41 PM

DOHA --- As always, the Al Jazeera Forum, held more or less annually in Qatar, featured a diverse array of speakers: senior government officials from the region; Arab "outsiders" seeking to bolster their credibility; academics, journalists, and other ne'er-do-wells from around the world; and Al Jazeera's own roster of experts.

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Social Media Are Undervalued in Counterterrorism

(0) Comments | Posted May 7, 2014 | 5:56 PM

For those who issue (or believe) optimistic pronouncements about defeating terrorism, the State Department's annual "Country Reports on Terrorism," released in late April, is worth reading. It describes the expanding breadth and vitality of terrorist activity, particularly in the Middle East and Africa.

Although the report cites the Al...

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Getting "Containment" Right This Time

(0) Comments | Posted April 8, 2014 | 4:16 PM

In his 1947 Foreign Affairs article, "The Sources of Soviet Conduct," George F. Kennan wrote that the Soviet Union's political action was "a fluid stream which moves constantly, wherever it is permitted to move, toward a given goal. Its main concern is to make sure that it has filled every...

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Economic Diplomacy as Public Diplomacy

(0) Comments | Posted March 3, 2014 | 1:33 PM

Successful public diplomacy is based on providing foreign publics what they need, be it information, a vaccination program, or help in securing economic well-being.

A good example of working toward the latter can be found in a speech delivered by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Anne Patterson in...

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Public Diplomacy and Press Freedom

(0) Comments | Posted February 24, 2014 | 10:26 AM

Among the principal assets of U.S. public diplomacy are American values. They are admired around the world, even by many people who dislike American policy. No other political system offers such extensive individual and systemic freedoms as those enumerated in the Bill of Rights. Showcasing and standing up for those...

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Media Education and the Arab Identity

(3) Comments | Posted February 21, 2014 | 6:31 PM

Sharjah, United Arab Emirates -- One factor perpetuating imbalance in the relationship between the Arab world and the West is the continued reliance on English as the exclusive language of instruction in many of the top Arab universities, particularly in media education.

This was among the...

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Bringing a Hard Edge to Soft Power

(1) Comments | Posted February 6, 2014 | 3:25 PM

"Soft power" is an important element of foreign policy, emphasizing attraction rather than coercion. The concept, popularized by Harvard professor Joseph Nye, provides counterbalance to the infatuation with hard power, especially military force, which has been driven by the accelerated development of "smart" weaponry. Drones, for example, are appealing to...

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Public Diplomacy's Branding Trap

(0) Comments | Posted January 17, 2014 | 10:53 AM

If Apple, Disney, Coca Cola and other corporate giants benefit from their carefully nurtured brands, why shouldn't nations do the same? "Branding" is a fashionable tool on which some public diplomats rely heavily... perhaps too heavily.

Helping global publics associate a country with nice things may be useful, but emphasizing...

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Korea's Public Diplomacy Opportunity

(0) Comments | Posted November 25, 2013 | 12:01 PM

SEOUL -- At a conference here sponsored by the Korea Foundation, several dozen scholars and practitioners grappled with questions related to Korea's global and regional diplomatic posture. My own suggestions as a conference participant centered on two questions:

  • How does public diplomacy relate to the strategic interests of Korea as...
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Economic Public Diplomacy for the Middle East

(0) Comments | Posted November 1, 2013 | 6:23 PM

The deteriorating security situation throughout much of the Arab world underscores the need to urgently search for nonviolent methods of achieving stability. At the heart of the current unrest are not only political issues but also economic failures that are wiping out the vestiges of hope that remain after the...

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Russia's Baltic Neighbors Might Rely More on Public Diplomacy

(1) Comments | Posted September 27, 2013 | 1:42 PM

Estonia's capital seems a peaceful place. Tallinn's cobblestoned streets are lined by medieval walls and towers, and tourists stroll amid churches and coffee shops. But Estonians live in a rough neighborhood; their eastern neighbor is Russia, which has never fully accepted that Estonia prefers the company of EU and NATO...

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Romania Ramps up Its Public Diplomacy

(1) Comments | Posted September 21, 2013 | 8:20 PM

BUCHAREST --- When public diplomacy issues are discussed, focus tends to be on major powers that are particularly active in this field -- the United States, China, Israel, the United Kingdom, Russia, and a few others. But Romania has now announced that it wants to join the big guys' club,...

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A Case for Blowing Things Up

(10) Comments | Posted August 28, 2013 | 6:16 PM

As a committed advocate for soft power and public diplomacy, I look for ways other than military force to address even the most pernicious international behavior. Usually, talking is better than fighting and wise use of political power can make unnecessary the reliance on "kinetic action," as military thinkers refer...

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Public Diplomacy and the Arab World's Future

(6) Comments | Posted August 21, 2013 | 6:16 PM

At some point, the post-revolutionary Arab states will emerge from the self-destructive madness that has them so tightly in its grip. While Egypt, Syria, Libya, and Tunisia deal with varying degrees of instability, the future should be kept in sight.

The key to an improved future in the region is...

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Creative Diplomacy Might Offer a Way Past Middle East Chaos

(6) Comments | Posted June 4, 2013 | 5:15 PM

DUBAI -- During two trips to the Middle East within the past two weeks, I have found nearly universal hopelessness about the situation in Syria and what it means for the larger region. Proposed peace talks are considered a sham, just a ploy to convince distant publics that their governments...

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