Faculty of Social Sciences. Sociology
Internationale spectator / Nederlands Genootschap voor Internationale Zaken ['s-Gravenhage] - 's-Gravenhage, 1947 - 2014
, p. 86-90
University of Antwerp
This essay seeks to disperse the fog surrounding an increasingly popular phenomenon that remains vague for scholars and governments alike: citizen diplomacy. It explores the whats, whys and hows of the field while taking a glimpse at the United States. In response to worldwide anti-American sentiments the U.S. is searching for an additional mode of winning hearts and minds abroad by boosting civilian clout in international relations. The November 2010 U.S. Summit for Citizen diplomacy set the very ambitious goal of doubling the number of so-called American citizen diplomats to 120 million by 2020.2 The author argues that more is no guarantee of better, and that the number of foreign hands American citizens shake over the next decade is of much less importance than the quality of the related interactions. Moreover, the essay stresses that exposure to and cooperation with foreign cultures and bridging intercultural discord begins at home. Citizen diplomacy is doomed to failure if it isn't rooted in cooperation with and between different societal and heterogeneous communities within American society; a fact relevant to all states interested in traversing this path.