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Public diplomacy: Write about a recent event or development which illustrates the importance or otherwise of public diplomacy in contemporary world politics.

by on February 16, 2013

The main reason  for the adoptation of public diplomacy by states is to inform and influence the public on foreign policies and actions by the state. This is done through propaganda to manipulate the public through the mass media for political purposes. With the recent surge of electronic media like face book and twitter, it is much easier for a government to influence the public option than ever before. It should be noted that most government regard the word propaganda as having a bad reputation because it was linked to the First World War at the first half of the 21st century. It is regarded as strident and mendacious and therefore, most government prefers to use the terms like “information work “as a means to influence the public instead of the word propaganda. The term information has had some success in camouflaging propaganda activities of states like Britain and United States as far as some of their broad audiences were concern.

So weather is propaganda or information work, we will now discuss a recent event which illustrates the importance of public diplomacy in our recent contemporary world politics or otherwise.

The Invasion of Iraq in2003 by the United States and its Allies is one of the most controversial topics in world politics. The aftermath of the invasion has showed reasons given by the allied forces were not entirely true. Before the conflict, the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair made a confident case based on certainties – Saddam’s weapons programme was “active”. He stated It was “beyond doubt” that Iraq had WMDs.

But this article will focus on the public diplomacy that was adopted by the then US president Bush to rally support from the international community.

One of the propaganda used was information about apparent Weapons of mass destruction that Sadam Hussein had. The Bush administration informed the diplomatic community and the United Nations that invaded Sadam Hussian and Iraq they were said to be an eminent danger to the Middle East region and the world as a whole. Saddam Hussein was suspected of possessing weapons of mass destruction (WMD’s) which it was feared that he might use against neighbouring countries. The western nations were once again reminded by President Bush about the Persian Gulf War in which Hussein used chemical weapons against The Kurdish religious sect that lived in the northern region of Iraq. Several hundred Kurds were killed or badly injured in the attack and the media was therefore able to remind people about the effects of weapons of mass destructions.

Moreover, shortly after the September 11, President George W. Bush declared a war on terror which meant any person or nation suspected of terrorist activity against the United States would be subject to punishment if found to be cooperating with terrorists. The Bush administration accused Saddam Hussein of sponsoring terrorist training facilities in Iraq. The administration has argued at great length that a U.S. invasion and “regime change” in Iraq would mark the greatest success in the war against terrorism so far. However, why this is so was never be entirely clear. The Bush administration claimed Saddam’s elimination would thus greatly weaken international terrorism and its capacity to attack the United States.

Another popular propaganda was that, the administration claimed the ouster of Saddam Hussein, will allow the Iraqi people to establish a truly democratic government and serve as a beacon and inspiration for the spread of democracy throughout the Islamic world. In his speech to the United Nations, President Bush said tens of thousands of political opponents and ordinary citizens have been subjected to arbitrary arrest and imprisonment by the Saddam administration. There were also claims of summary execution and torture by beating and burning, electric shock, starvation, mutilation and rape against the citizens of Iraq.

So, with no WMDs discovered and no stability in Iraq since the invasion, supporters of the war like Tony Blair now say Saddam’s lack of co-operation in coming clean about his weapons, or lack of them meant that Saddam was in material breach of his obligations to the UN.  However, the formal White House Press Secretary Mr Scott McClellan (worked with Bush from July 2003 to his resignation in April 2006) has accused Mr Bush of a lack of openness and having relied on a “propaganda campaign” to sell the war.

File:Iraq, Saddam Hussein (222).jpg

Nine months before the invasion, London witnessed the largest anti-war demonstration in British History. Despite some opposition against the war, America and its allies went ahead to invade Iraq. This was possible not only because Americans had the means but there were able to adopt Pubic diplomacy to influence their allies and the diplomatic front with their own “information work “own or propaganda which has been mentioned above.

The invasion of Iraq in 2003 by the USA and its allies indicates some of the dangers of states with powerful military power will find means of attacking other sovereign states by means of public diplomacy.


G. R. Berridge, Diplomacy: Theory and Practice, 4th edition

John Dumbrell , A special relationship : Anglo-American relations from the Cold War to Iraq


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