Public diplomacy is gaining international recognition as a necessary and important tool
needed for nations to successfully pursue their political goals. But what is public
diplomacy? Public diplomacy involves the transnational flow of ideas and the active
engagement of both government and non-government actors in policy development.
Public diplomacy can be used to influence governments through the public or merely
as a way to influence the public in order to build broad national relationships. Public
diplomacy can be effective because it supports traditional diplomacy, because of the
message it delivers or through the context a message is delivered in. To be effective it is
necessary for a government to clarify for themselves an understanding of public
diplomacy that matches their goals and objectives.
The growing importance of public diplomacy has been driven largely by globalisation
and the increasing impact many non-government actors are having on policy
development. Nations now recognise that in order for them to effectively pursue
national interests many actors need to be incorporated into creating an enabling
policy environment. Nations also realise that public diplomacy can have a positive
effect on their reputation which has important political and economic ramifications.
Public diplomacy is particularly important for small-medium sized nations who cannot
match the military or political powers of larger nations. Because public diplomacy is a
freely contested activity...
Public diplomacy presents a unique challenge to the Syrian Arab Republic, whose public image in the international arena has been tarnished in a post-9/11 climate where 'Middle East' is all too often synonymous in Western media with 'lslamist extremism',
'radicalism', 'intolerance'. Attempts by the Syrian government and its embassies overseas to counter negative perceptions have largely centered on one of Syria's key strengths: its significant cultural and historical tradition. To this end, Syria has been
promoted as a 'Cradle of Civilisation', with emphasis placed on its scenic landscapes, as well as historical and archaeological landmarks. While this has been important in advancing a more positive image of Syria in the international domain, there is scope to build on these efforts in order to further Syria's interests overseas. This paper examines one aspect of Syrian society that defies existing negative perceptions: its thriving Christian population. It raises the question: can the religious tolerance enjoyed by Syrian
Christians under a secular framework of government be used as a public diplomacy tool to enhance Syria's international reputation? Syrian Christians constitute roughly 10 per cent of a country characterised by significant religious and ethnic diversity. Along with Sunni Muslims that represent the majority of Syria (74 per cent)...
Australia's Embassy in Syria's capital of Damascus was closed in 1999 under the Howard
Government. In order to explore the possibility of reopening the Embassy, there needs to be a clear
understanding of Australian foreign policy and also of Syria's value to Australia.
Decisions in Australian foreign policy are made by the Prime Minister. He is influenced
however, to varying degrees, by Parliament, the media, lobby groups, industry, non-governmental
organisations and the general public. The more economic and political power these groups possess,
the more likely they are to influence foreign policy.
Foreign policy priorities are quite vulnerable to changes in government and context. Just as
foreign policies have transformed over time, over the next few years the Rudd government will
develop a new foreign policy. The current policy priorities have been depicted by Prime Minister
Kevin Rudd and Foreign Minister Stephen Smith as constituting three pillars. The first pillar is
Australia's alliance with the United States. The second pillar is Australia's membership of the United
Nations. Finally, the third pillar is regional engagement in the Asia-Pacific.
Syria occupies an interesting political position in relation to its region and to key powers such
as the United States and Europe. Events of the recent past have resulted in Syria representing the
Middle East as a state with a clear alliance with Iran...