Contrary to the view held by many who study American foreign policy, public diplomacy has seldom played a decisive role in the achievement of the country's foreign policy objectives. The reasons for this are not that the policies and interventions are ill-conceived or badly executed, although this is sometimes the case. Rather, the factors that limit the effectiveness of public diplomacy lie almost entirely outside the control of American policy-makers. In particular, the resistance of foreign opinion-leaders to ideas and information about American motives and actions that do not square with their pre-conceived notions of the United States and its activities in the world is an enormous and perhaps insurmountable wall that limits the impact of public diplomacy.
This book does not conclude that public diplomacy has no place in the repertoire of American foreign policy. Instead, the expectations held for this soft power tool need to be more realistic. Public diplomacy should not be viewed as a substitute for hard power tools that are more likely to be correlated with actual American influence as opposed to the somewhat nebulous concept of American standing.
Table of Contents
1. The Belief in Brandenburg Gate
2. Persistence and Change in Foreign Perceptions of America
3. Images of America: Persistence and Ambivalence
4. Schooling and the Image of America 5. The "Reel" America
6. Conspiracy Theories and the Image of America
7. Credibility Matters, Esteem Does Not
Stephen Brooks teaches at the University of Michigan and is Professor at the University of Windsor, Canada. He teaches in the areas of Canadian politics and public administration, and American politics. His research interests include the political influence of intellectuals, political thought in Canada and the United States, federalism, and public policy.
"A lucid, judicious and well documented study. Not only does it explain the limits of public diplomacy, it greatly enlightens the reader about the origins, evolution and tenacious manifestations of anti-Americanism in different parts of the world."—Paul Hollander, author of Anti-Americanism: Irrational and Rational and editor of Understanding Anti-Americanism: Its Origins and Impact at Home and Abroad
"Stephen Brooks has written a thoughtful, insightful and engaging analysis on the limits of American public diplomacy. Policy-makers in the White House and on Capitol Hill should pay close attention to his cautionary tale of how their efforts to employ this instrument of statecraft are often undermined by foreign influences beyond their control. This is an important book written by a distinguished scholar whose voice on these and related issues deserves to be heard. It is a study that will resonate with students of American foreign policy and international relations for years." —Donald E. Abelson, The University of Western Ontario
"Ever since the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, American leaders have tried to speak directly to foreign publics, past their governments. They’ve enjoyed quite uneven success in those endeavours — Stephen Brooks tackles the reasons why. Anyone interested in understanding why public diplomacy is so challenging needs to read this book."—Mark R. Brawley, McGill University