Monday, March 28, 2011

We're Jamming

"Wherever people long to be free they will find a friend in the United States."

Sitting on the couch with The Dog tonight, and while her rapt attention seems to be devoted to the question of whether or not I'm going to finish that ravioli, mine is on the television, where President Obama is engaging in some monologic diplomacy and demonstrating, once again, that Obama diplomacy is generally public diplomacy.

I'd use the term nation branding, if I had more faith in it, but we'll avoid it right now and just point out how he's framing his argument. American is in Libya because that's Who We Are. We are drawing on a history, a culture, a value system that demands our presence there, "born as we are, out of a revolution, by those who longed to be free...."

He's also drawing some pretty stark contrasts with the previous administration's unilateral actions, pointing out that the current U.S. presence in Libya was both requested and sanctioned by the international community. And of course, the U.S. is not leading the operation, but assisting with aspects like surveillance, search-and-rescue and communications jamming. The last of these is particularly relevant because of its PD potential, or rather, its anti-PD potential. By jamming Ghaddafi's communication, the U.S. and its allies can prevent the spread of the regime's messages and values and, consequently, promote their own.

So, I'm sure the professional pundits will have all sorts of opinions on the highs and lows of the speech, but in strictly PD terms, I thought he did a great job. And now, much to The Dog's disappointment, I am going to finish that ravioli.

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