In the Beginning Was the Word
The Cold War began as a bipolar confrontation centered in Europe, but it evolved over time into a worldwide multipolar conversation. As Europe’s overseas possessions advanced toward decolonization, the contest for their allegiance often took the form of war, espionage, and intervention. But far more widely and consistently, it took the form of public diplomacy: a war of ideas transmitted to audiences abroad. Public diplomacy faced fundamental challenges. Its practitioners had no power to close the gap between their spin and policy, and no reliable way to measure success. But it produced an historic unintended consequence. Carrying the Cold War outside of Europe, via public diplomacy meant to win over non-European hearts and minds, instead spurred their voices. By persuading peoples outside Europe of their common interest in transcending rather than joining the Cold War, public diplomacy helped to cultivate the imagined community of the Third World.
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