Ambassador John E. Reinhardt, first public diplomacy leader at USIA

State Department spokesman John Kirby does daily battle with the press; it must get tiresome. So he would know a true legend in the field. This past 18 February 2016, John E. Reinhardt passed away and left a foundation for public diplomacy that should be more widely recognized:

Speaking on the impact of public diplomacy, Reinhardt once said this: “[P]ublic diplomacy as a foreign affairs endeavor has never been recognized as much as now in its great importance.” Time has not changed that perspective. In fact, perhaps, it has only become truer. In today’s increasingly interconnected world, where regional issues quickly transform into global challenges, the value of public diplomacy has never been greater.

via DipNote, Remembering John Reinhardt: A Pioneer in Public Diplomacy

In the NYT, Reinhardt’s obit explained his approach to organizational leadership at USIA:

“He was the real thing, a genuine, practicing cultural diplomat,” Richard T. Arndt, another envoy, wrote in 2005 in his book “The First Resort of Kings.” …

Renamed the United States International Communication Agency and encompassing Voice of America broadcasts and cultural exchanges, the agency under Dr. Reinhardt expanded its agenda to include “speakers sent abroad, seminars held abroad, visitors brought to this country,” he said then.“

Our activities and programs as a whole,” Dr. Reinhardt added, “should be designed to learn as well as to inform, and to inform as well as to learn.”

Source: John E. Reinhardt, Ambassador and Head of U.S. Information Agency, Dies at 95 – The New York Times

Read the full transcript of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training oral history project interview with Ambassador Reinhardt from March 2002 to get the measure of a remarkable contribution to U.S. diplomacy.


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