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US Under Secretary talks diplomacy

first_imgThe USC Center on Public Diplomacy hosted United States Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel on Wednesday at a forum discussion on the complexities surrounding public diplomacy in a hyper-connected world. The discussion, “Why We Need to Harden Our Soft Power,” was live-streamed online from Wallis Annenberg Hall.Mr. Secretary · Richard Stengel, the United States Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, discussed U.S. policy on Wednesday. – Ralf Cheung | Daily Trojan“Soft power is the communications between people about policy,” said Stengel, a Princeton graduate and Rhodes Scholar. “From a government perspective, it’s about putting people and policy together.”The Under Secretary, a former managing editor of TIME.com, joined the U.S. Department of State last February to provide global strategic leadership for all Department of State public diplomacy and public affairs engagement work, focusing specifically on propaganda from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria — more commonly known as ISIS or ISIL — and Russia. Stengel discussed the impact that both ISIS and Russia are having on the cybersphere, spreading their message in a multitude of languages and using state-controlled news and entertainment programming to push their opinions onto the populace.“Ninety percent of Russians get 100 percent of their news from state-controlled media,” Stengel said. “There was no answer from the U.S. government [to this information]. In this information environment where you are up against Russian propaganda and this nasty and violent ISIL propaganda, we have to contest the space.”Stengel credits his journalism background for helping him see the media from a different perspective. He is trying to bring speed and efficiency to the government in their dissemination of information to the public.“We have to do a better and more forceful job of getting our ideas out,” Stengel said. “We need to shape the response in real time. We can’t be on our back foot.”Stengel said that though U.S. pop culture has been a huge factor in public diplomacy in the past, its influence has dropped given the rise of other countries’ involvement in the entertainment industry. As such, countries such as Russia and China have utilized their increased media presence to gain more autocratic control in their respective countries. Stengel recounted that a month into his position at the State Department, he witnessed the ramifications of such media involvement in the Russian annexation of Crimea.“We saw the Russians in the social media space laying a predicate for their battleground in Crimea, all before they were actually in the kinetic battlefield,” Stengel said.Though Stengel claims the government’s goal is to spread U.S. public policy, he differentiates that from the Russian and ISIS methods of spreading propaganda. Stengel explained that whereas the United States seeks to explain their own policy goals, Russian and ISIS’s propaganda methods attempt to disseminate a false perception of how things actually are.“As there is a difference between flattery and honest praise, there’s a difference between propaganda and what our policy is,” Stengel said. “We are trying to tell people what our policy is, explaining what our policy is and having a conversation. It’s not about winning hearts and minds.”Stengel stressed the importance of third parties getting involved in spreading the message of U.S. policy and urged the next generation to be involved in this discussion.“I don’t think it will be my generation that solves this problem,” Stengel said. “It will be this generation.”last_img

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