Ambassador Cynthia Schneider looks at two international "American Idol"-style shows - one in Afghanistan, and one in the United Arab Emirates - and shows the surprising effect that these reality-TV competitions are creating in their societies.
More required reading on cultural diplomacy from Cynthia:
- The Great Silencing: Intolerance and censorship in the Arab world
- New Way Forward: Encouraging Greater Cultural Engagement with Muslim Communities
- Cultural Diplomacy: It's the Culture, Stupid (subscription required)
- and this related RAND report, Barriers to the Broad Dissemination of Creative Works in the Arab World
Cynthia gets it. Public diplomacy is about more than direct engagement and building relationships. The tactical desire to focus on the immediate payback of our policies blinds us to the slow yet enduring benefits of indirect empowerment of others.