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The public diplomacy of Obama administration toward Iran

The United States uses public diplomacy tools in its foreign policy toward Iran and the focus on exploiting this kind of diplomacy could be attributed to some factors such as a lack of traditional relationship between two countries and high importance of world public opinion in general and Iranian public opinion in specific. The public diplomacy and strategic communications experts within the U.S. government are exploiting the potential of new social media to gain the hearts and minds outside America, especially Iran.

Addressing the Iranian public opinion, U.S. intends to provide a ground for exerting and implementing the desired policies within the framework of Iranian sovereignty. As public affairs blogger Matt Armstrong writes: “In this age of mass information and precision-guided media, everyone from political candidates to terrorists must instantly and continuously interact with and influence audiences in order to be relevant and competitive. Ignoring the utility of social media is tantamount to surrendering the high ground in the enduring battle to influence minds around the world.” (Armstrong, 2009, 75). The U.S. is well aware of the importance of this. With regard to refrain from foreign relations with Iran, U.S. goal is only realized through exploiting the public diplomacy which includes media and elite interactions.

The U.S. uses all existing facilities in the area of public diplomacy in relation with Iran such as digital and traditional media, internet, TV and radio channels, elite interactions, cultural and educational exchange and many websites in the area of cyber space to attain its goals and to influence on populace.

During the first months of his tenure, U.S. president Barack Obama announced his commitment to exploitation of twentieth century technologies as a part of public diplomacy. As strategies employed in the previous years’ presidential elections, a broad set of social networks and communications tools had been considered to increase the information disclosure and development of United States. On his first day in Office, President Obama signed the memorandum on Transparency and Open Government which states that Web 2.0 technologies are necessary for exploiting the today’s extensive knowledge and in transnational communications. It soon became apparent that the government is willing to exploit this knowledge throughout the world.

To analyze U.S general diplomacy toward Iran we must study Obama’s presidency period from January 2007 until today and then we can address types and forms of function thoroughly.

U.S general diplomacy toward Iran in Obama’s administration

Presence of Obama has increased Anti-Iran’s projects. After winning the election, in the very beginning he submitted Iran’s file to Denis Ross in state department. Ross who had Iran’s file in U.S national Security Council is a Zionist and former chairman of the Jewish people policy planning institute in Tel-Aviv. Obama and the US administration have changed and strengthened their general policy toward Iran after 2009 election. The US have hosted many Iranian migrants and tried to attract some mental powers inside Iran so they can handle the situation using these opposition powers. In order to Iranians full attention, the US used special tools including websites, virtual embassy, social networks such as YouTube, twitter, and Facebook, and many satellite channels. They tried very hard to send their message in Persian language. US administration has also established special offices near Iran’s boarders so they can get their own intelligence and manpower. There are some active offices in Dubai, Baku, Istanbul, Frankfort, and London at the moment. Reuel Marc Gerecht former CIA analyst and a researcher in the American Enterprise said: exiled Iranians are our best US general diplomacy performers in Iran. The United States also used satellite networks to promote its own values and to carry out general diplomacy goals through these networks. US general diplomacy deputy James k Glassman talking about the use of existing networks stressed that the US government should run a commercial satellite networks that encourages for west type liberty and also plays banned Persian movies. He also pointed out that the US should absorb and train young people to affect Iranian society. The United States as well using mass media was able to somehow affect the youth to put pressure on their government and to overthrow the Iranian regime and that was the main US general diplomacy goal against Iran.

Hussein Pouzesh Shirazi



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