Monday, February 21, 2011

A Different View of the Raymond Davis Affair

As the Raymond Davis affair continues, its PD implications deserve coverage. Mr Jan over at PD Globbers has beaten me to the punch. I would like to offer a response to his post and show how the Davis episode shows the limits of network diplomacy.

Pakistan’s PD has much more to lose with respect to the Davis affair than does the American P.D. Opinions of America in Pakistan are near rock bottom.[1] So, if Pakistan frees Davis or America frees him by force, Pakistanis will just continue with their near-pathological hatred of the West and the U.S. in particular. However, if the Pakistani government decides to try Davis in a judicial system known for craven populism, the result will be very grave.[2] In terms of public diplomacy, Americans will see an image of Davis in the clutches of a kangaroo court with crowds of Islamist political party’s calling for his death. The humiliation would be so noxious that pressure from the public and opinion makers would force Congress to cut off aid to Pakistan. That would have real consequences for Pakistan’s veritable army of rent-seeking bureaucrats.

American threats of withdrawing aid would clearly be an example traditional diplomacy. The Davis affair shows how appeals to international law, a PD effort, albeit a weak one, can go side by side coercion. The simultaneous wielding of both public diplomacy tools and traditional diplomacy is something that only states can do. Certainly, the promise of network diplomacy and public-private partnerships that target diffuse groups should not be ignored. However, these new initiatives should be long term complement to more traditional PD efforts because the new efforts cannot respond as effectively in a crisis.



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