Public diplomacy may be defined as engagement with a foreign public and listen to a foreign public and change your approach as a result, in support of a country’s national interest. US public diplomacy includes promoting US values, explaining US policies, supporting and facilitating US exports and entrepreneurship and facilitating and promoting US higher education and exchange programs.
In order to have better understanding of American culture, values and society, programs like flagship exchange, international visitor leadership program invites doctors, urban planners, artists, journalists and others to build valuable professional skills , introduced by the US under public diplomacy program. In case when there is no physical presence, social media is very useful in that case. Talking about the US efforts for public diplomacy towards Iran, Virtual Embassy Tehran website and Farsi language social media platform, which include Twitter, Facebook, Youtube established by US in Iran. These steps taken by US in order to counter negative image of US policies and strategies inside Iran. After 9/11 US image in the Muslim World is characterized by distrust and disapproval of American ideology, culture and enmity and general hatred. The influence of this negative public opinion impacts the US credibility to advance its strategies and foreign policy interest in the Muslim World.After 9/11 incident majority in Muslim World still believe that Osama bin laden and Al Qaeda were not solely responsible for this incident, instead accused US as well responsible for 9/11. Invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan has fueled to the rumors, that invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan counts as proof to many in the Muslim World that 9/11 was planned in order to go for the achievement of interests. And 9/11 was just an excuse on the basis of which the US justifies its invasion. This kind of public diplomacy created a problem for dialogue initiative and to bring up mutual understanding between the US and Muslim World.
In the 30 yrz since the Iranian Hostage Crisis, Iranians has grown with the unawareness of diplomatic relations. In order to have effective public diplomacy towards Iran, the US Administrations has employed a variety of efforts to help break the stage of dispute.In 2006 in an attempt to refine and devise policies including public diplomacy the Bush Administration established the State Department’s Office of Iranian Affairs. In 2011, the US Department of State announced publicly the Virtual Embassy Tehran(currently Virtual Embassy Tehran blocked by Iranian government)an online hub specifically designed to increase communication with Iranian citiens. The goal behind the establishment of Virtual Embassy, fighting misinformation and promoting mutual understanding.So through this technology the US impact the Iranian youth opinion. New technology like internet and social media has given the US public diplomacy practionersa advanced tools to conduct public diplomacy effectively and to communicate with Iranians. Online source is the main and prime route available to the US to have direct access to Iranian people. Talking about internet access in Iran, incredible growth has been experienced by the Iranian citizens. To have understanding of target audience is very much important for public diplomacy, in the US, target audience are usually professionals. The rise in mass digital communication has caused increased usage of internet to communicate directly with citizens, and this is how the diplomatic entities and officials increasingly use this tecnique to engage with citizens. Thus social media and other online tools like Virtual Embassy employed by the US due to its ability to engage and spread messages to a large target audience. One of the element public diplomacy is listening that have a key role in defining and shaping the policies. Post 9/11 many scholars and practitioner of public diplomacy has given importance to the understanding of listening. In order to have effective public diplomacy the US needs to work on listening.Virtual Embassy as a hub of information about the US and study abroad programs, proved valuable to Iranian who had to rely on costly visa application process. Attack on the British Embassy in Tehran, government of Iran has experienced a lack of respect on international stage,and this incident posed serious problems and challenges on establishing on the ground relations with Iran. Despite the lack of formal diplomatic relations, various efforts and steps taken by the US to build relationship with Iranian citizens. Virtual Embassy is one of the effort of the US ,with the prime goal of building relationship. Despite the formal diplomatic ties and limited engagement between the US and Iran, educational institution of America remain an attractive symbol in Iran. Virtual presence has limited ability to reach target audience and build lasting relationship, so relying solely on this technology can be problematic, as the same problem faced by the US as a result of relying only on Virtual Embassy. The US Administration has shown interest in order to have better understanding and collaboration. For that purpose another step has taken by the US Administration that is science diplomacy. Despite the strained relations between the US and Iran, scientific collaboration has increased between the US and Iran.
The reason of failure of the US and Iran diplomatic relations, and Iran hostility towards west in the 1980, as a result of the US intervention in the internal affair of Iran and projecting the image of Iran as, one of US’s great enemy and Iran nuclear program has fueled this perception in the west.As Iran lacks powerful allies in the region and has strained relationship with Persian Gulf states as a result of territorial disputes and found itself surrounded by dominant power in the middle east such as US backed Saudi Arabia, Israel and Afghanistan. Under these circumstances Iran needs to go for diplomatic relations instead of aggressive attitude, as Iran public diplomacy is middle east centric, Iran needs to move beyond it. In order to have effective and formal diplomatic relationship, the US needs to understand the dynamics of Iran domestic policies and Iranian public. Instead of projecting image of Iran as, US’s graet enemy and projecting US image by Iran that the US needs Iran in order to effect policy in the Middle East, both states need to go for formal diplomatic ties and need to drop hostile stance towards each other