Saturday, December 05, 2009

Democratic Difficulties

As current events unfold throughout the world, it becomes more and more obvious now, how much of a role democracy can play in the development of strategic communication. In a structure where the citizenry are the rule, or at least shape the rule, strategic communication, in this opinion, becomes much more complicated to deliver. In the United States, there is so much transparency and so many venues of communication and information gathering that the words of our executive and congressional branches are scrutinized and often challenged by the very public they represent. Comparatively, you don't see the participation of citizens from countries such as Iran in such a similar way. Or more extremely the participation and information gathering by peoples of say China. The restriction on the knowledge of the people makes the delivery of communication more simplistic, easier to swallow if you will.

When a foreign leader from a country where the citizenry is either by law restricted or by circumstance unable to attain information, the likely hood that people believe what they are told increases. The degree to which people will stand behind their leaders unchallenged is seemingly more likely as well. The American public is infamous for standing up to our governing bodies when our opinions or information rich venues dictate to us that we should. In doing so, in having that luxury the strategic communication delivered by our government needs to be that much better, that much more convincing. An informed public is a challenging one.

Take the Afghanistan policy that was newly announced for example. The amount of work that went into insuring the substantial support of the American public was tremendous. The numbers they floated in the news over the course of months, testing the response to troop levels and timetables. Such steps were needed, given the huge outcries in national papers, blogs, protests, etc. You don't see as much, not to say there isn't any, of the same from Iranian citizens over the formalities of the nuclear programs, the controversy over not working with the world powers. Mutivocality needs to exist, every leadership must cater in some degree to its people, but the ability of some to conceal information, to tip the scales in their favor lends a hand. The relative freedom in some democracies makes for a slippery slope. This all begs to question how the world would be different if everyone were as equally informed, oh how the art of strategic communication would soar to new levels.

Every aspect of the news bears propaganda, Italy's ruling on the Knox case giving rise to combative values from country's legal systems, the restriction of information and meeting with the president in China by the Chinese, in comparison to the highly televised and information rich Afghanistan policy debates in the US and the remarks by McChrystal that accompanied them. Ultimately the point is that democracy makes its leaders artful and careful practitioners.

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