This Clingendael Report argues that there is a need to rethink public diplomacy efforts in Afghanistan beyond 2014. Public diplomacy should be disconnected from the military–security paradigm that has dominated international relations with the country since 2001. Both the American and the Dutch models provide valuable lessons.
The end of the security transition process in Afghanistan in 2014 marks the need to rethink foreign public diplomacy efforts in the country. There is a unique opportunity to disconnect public diplomacy from the military–security paradigm that has dominated international relations with Afghanistan since 2001. With a much more limited foreign military presence on the ground, public diplomacy can be considerably more than a strategy to win hearts and minds.
More or less ideology?
This Clingendael Report compares the experiences of the United States and the Netherlands. Author Jorrit Kamminga argues that the more sizeable American ‘model’ of public diplomacy can be considered a more defensive mechanism of foreign policy. US policies are linked to the military and counter-insurgency activities in Afghanistan and to the broader ideological objective of being part of the debate on the relationship between ‘Islam and the West’. In contrast, the Dutch ‘model’ shows a limited public security effort that incorporates cultural activities and training as an extension of foreign policy. This model is less ideological and is not directly connected to the military conflict in Afghanistan. It is a more indirect form of supporting foreign policy objectives.
Best of both worlds
What is needed beyond 2014 is an approach that is disconnected from the current military framework. Such an approach departs from the more modest and non-military Dutch model, but includes the broader political and especially financial commitment of the American model.
Photo: As part of America’s cultural diplomacy, the United States took part in international exhibitions in Afghanistan, such as the Jeshyn International Fairs in Kabul in 1956 and 1968.