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British Public Diplomacy 'in the age of Schisms'

[Cover of British Public Diplomacy 'in the age of Schisms']

Mark Leonard, Andrew Small with Martin Rose

February 2005

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The war in Iraq has had a seismic impact on international perceptions of Britain and British foreign policy, yet there is a big contrast between the cacophony of debate in the United States on the political and diplomatic fall-out of Iraq for US grand strategy, and the relative lack of public and political debate about how UK public diplomacy needs to change to reflect these new realities.

The last two years have also made manifest the fracturing of the old blocs that shaped the cold War world into a new set of schisms: the fragmentation of the West; 'New' and 'Old' Europe; the bitter conflicts between moderates and extremists in the Arab and Muslim worlds; and the major power transition entailed by the rise of new global powers from the east and South. These changes have taken place in a new diplomatic environment where the force of global public opinion, the revolution in information and communications technology, and the growing need to establish multilateral coalitions, place relationships with international publics at the heart of any foreign policy strategy.

In this book, the authors argue that a major rethink is needed on the approach taken to public diplomacy to respond to these shifts. Neither a redeployment of old Cold War propaganda tolls, nor the 1990's variant of Cool Britannia will do. Instead, there should be a new set of trust-building practices that address the gaps in worldview and significant public opinions challenges that exist in our relationships with key allies, major new powers and the rest of the developing world.