Public Diplomacy and International Conflict Resolution: A Cautionary Case from Cold War South America

Christopher Darnton, Foreign Policy Analysis, Public Diplomacy and International Conflict Resolution: A Cautionary Case from Cold War South America, academic.oup.com
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Abstract
Can public diplomacy [JB emphasis] help resolve protracted international conflicts? Both rationalist and constructivist traditions identify significant domestic obstacles to international peacemaking. However, Robert Putnam's concept of “reverberation” implies that diplomats can expand their adversaries’ win-sets for cooperation by engaging foreign publics. This paper analyzes a most-likely case, with archival evidence: Argentine Ambassador Oscar Camilión's unsuccessful quest for Argentine-Brazilian rapprochement in 1976–77. Although the two countries later overcame rivalry, public diplomacy contributed negligibly to this success: internal Argentine divisions created mixed messages toward Brazil, Brazilian leaders launched a competing public relations operation, and these two currents obstructed and nearly terminated Camilión's mission. This case illuminates the paradoxes of Argentine foreign policymaking under military rule and offers a cautionary tale for scholars and practitioners of public diplomacy and conflict resolution.
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