Propaganda Diplomacy (Concept, Emergence and Operation)

 10/8/2017  1360

After a brief explanation of the concept of "Diplomacy", the article seeks to explain the context, the concept, the emergence, and operation of "Propaganda Diplomacy". It is a concept which has recently gained a significance for India especially in the aftermath of URI Terror Attacks. Prime Minister's speech dedicated to the people of Pakistan is the latest instance of the Propaganda War being put into use.  

Broadly ‘Diplomacy’ is the instrument by which foreign policy of a nation travels beyond its borders and establishes contacts with other nations. It tries to secure the goals of foreign policy during the course of relations with other nations. Besides being a means, diplomacy is also an input of foreign policy.


The nature of Diplomacy (Track 1 Diplomacy, Public Diplomacy, Military Diplomacy, etc) being used depends upon circumstances and the national interests (at stake).
The relevance of Diplomacy in dealing with global tensions has increased in the wake of rising Globalism where a direct confrontation stands as an infeasible alternative. Since the ends of World War 2 there has been a constant evolution of Diplomatic Gestures.

In Present Context the increased influence of public opinion, political parties, pressure groups, world public opinion, the rise of a more democratic and less aristocratic class of civil servants, have all given a new dimension to diplomacy. Modern ambassadors and consoler’s are democratic in their outlook towards diplomacy. In this context Propaganda Diplomacy has recently gained immense significance.


Broadly, Propaganda Diplomacy can be referred to as source-based, cause-oriented, emotion-laden Diplomacy that utilizes mass persuasion as a medium to cultivate the mass opinion in service to the goals of the source nation.


It had been in use since ages (although to a limited extent) and has been used as an instrument of instigating revolts and overthrowing Dynasties in the past. However its true relevance and utility is a recent incident which is an outcome of the establishment and subsequent strengthening of the Democracy and Welfare State.

Its present form can be traced back to the decade of 1970s (Peak of Cold War). The Cold War inaugurated a paradigm shift in nature of diplomatic activity worldwide. Through propaganda, policy initiatives, and covert action, agents of the governments (Power Blocs) acted directly to influence the ideas, values, beliefs, opinions, actions, politics, and culture of other countries. Foreign affairs personnel not only observed and reported, they also participated in events or tried to influence the way that they happened. The old maxim that one government does not interfere in the internal affairs of another had been swept aside.
Developments in mass communication and the increased attentiveness to domestic audiences abroad to foreign affairs meant that the target of diplomacy had now widened to include popular opinion as much, if not more so, than traditional diplomatic activities.

Propaganda Diplomacy in Operation= "Propaganda War":

Throughout the Cold War, propaganda and diplomacy operated on multiple levels. At the most obvious level, propaganda as it is conventionally understood (the utilization of communication techniques to influence beliefs and actions) was employed as a distinct instrument of U.S. foreign policy. Through the United States Information Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, and other mechanisms, the United States waged a war of words and of ideas that attacked communism, promoted capitalism and democracy, defended U.S. foreign policies, and advertised the American way of life in order to win the Cold War

On another level, the awareness that international public opinion had become a major factor in the conduct of diplomacy meant that propaganda considerations intruded on the policymaking process itself. Policymakers are now increasingly aware that international public opinion had to be an ingredient in policy formulation at all levels: in the planning and policy formulation stage, in the coordination and timing of operations, and finally in the last phase of explanation and interpretation by government officials and information programs.

Thus the immense significance of the Propaganda Diplomacy is evident in the victory of US (in Cold War) and its prevalence as an undisputed Power in Post Cold War Era (and her power and Prestige even today).


For many years military and economic power, used separately, or in conjunction, have served as the pillars of diplomacy. They still serve that function but the recent increase in influence of the masses of the people over government, together with greater awareness on the part of the leaders of the aspirations of people has created a new dimension of foreign policy operations. Certain foreign policy objectives can be pursued by dealing directly with the people of foreign countries, rather than with their governments.

Through the use of modern instruments and techniques of communications it is possible today to reach large or influential segments of national populations—to inform them, to influence their attitudes, and at times perhaps even to motivate them to a particular course of action. These groups, in turn, are capable of exerting noticeable, even decisive, pressures on their government.By appealing directly to public (of foreign Nation) using effective propaganda and other measures a popular opinion can be generated to support policies (of our own Nation), which would in turn exert pressure on government policymakers. 

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