Date of Submission

Spring 2019

Academic Programs and Concentrations

Global and International Studies

Project Advisor 1

Omar Encarnación

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Senior Project submitted to The Division of Social Studies of Bard College. This thesis is an examination of various factors inhibiting effective American public diplomacy. A unique case study, American public diplomacy operationalized through educational and cultural exchanges, radio broadcasting and American cultural centers and libraries and implemented through American public diplomacy agencies such as the World War II era Office of War Information and the Cold War era United States Information Agency has been an effective tool for pursuing U.S. foreign policy objectives. Despite positive impacts, for example, helping to dismantle the Soviet Union, facilitating cross-cultural understanding and respect between nations, and the positive portrayal of the American culture and way of life, the history of American public diplomacy is troubling and displays a level of inadequate funding and support from American political establishments due to a myriad of factors. Among those factors are the persistent propaganda charge and considerable skepticism targeted at operations in addition to other phenomenons such as rising anti-Americanism, a consequence of unfavorable policies, most notably U.S. support for Israel and the 2003 U.S. Invasion of Iraq. These factors have stifled the generation of support for public diplomacy programs and impeded access to foreign audiences. Finally, as portrayed by what this thesis terms as a series of “zeniths and nadirs,” one of the greatest challenges negatively affecting the maintenance of sustained American public diplomacy programs and agencies is the historical precedent that mandates the design of public diplomacy be a tool used in the wake of international crises, keeping operations from achieving their most effective status as a long-term U.S. foreign policy strategy.

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