History Rhymes Itself: U.S. Public Diplomacy as a Tool for Political Warfare

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2022-66-11-41-49
U. Artamonova, artamonova.u@imemo.ru
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation.

Received 01.06.2022. Revised 20.07.2022. Accepted 02.09.2022.

Abstract. In 2022, the tension between Russia and the U.S. has reached a new high. This trend has been especially noticeable in the information space: influencing public opinion of each other’s populations as well as of global community. Focusing on the concept of “political warfare” (POLWAR), the author analyzes the circumstances of its last notable emergence in the discourse among the American expert community and political elites – the start of the Cold War. The article discovers that American approach to the POLWAR in the first decades of confrontation with the USSR was reactive and even defensive, since the USSR did already have a successful experience of projecting influence on the global public opinion, effectively winning hearts and minds of foreign populations and thus presenting a threat to the newly constructed liberal world order. Hence, the U.S. governments proceeded to a gradual establishment of what later will be called the American “public diplomacy” (PD), including the development of relative legislation, institutes, etc. Thus, the article concludes that PD as a political practice may be considered a product of the Cold War in general and POLWAR in particular, which explains why the American PD has been in systemic crisis since the end of the Cold War. Moreover, studying the latest changes in the U.S. legislation and institutes related to public diplomacy, the author suggests that those events were once again the reaction of the U.S. to the Russian policies which were considered a challenge to the “rule-based world order”. Those steps, however, have been too inconsequent to bring the American PD into the most effective mode. That is why in the POLWAR that started in 2022, the American side fluctuates towards reactive and defensive tactic, mostly focusing on stopping Russian information campaigns influencing the population of the U.S., whereas control over the global public opinion remains second priority and public opinion of Russians is not being considered at all within the framework of this new approach of the U. S. Aside from that the creation of Disinformation Board and introduction of the concept of “domestic PD” likely indicate the desire to boost the public diplomacy resources that are not currently adequate for POLWAR offensive via discovering new talents and ideas among motivated Americans.

Keywords: public diplomacy, hybrid warfare, information warfare, psychological operations, strategic communication, American-Russian relations, U.S.A., soft power, POLWAR, ideological warfare, world order, Ukraine


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For citation:
Artamonova U. History Rhymes Itself: U.S. Public Diplomacy as a Tool for Political Warfare. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2022, vol. 66, no. 11, pp. 41-49. https://doi.org/10.20542/0131-2227-2022-66-11-41-49

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