Spinning the Globe? U.S. Public Diplomacy and Foreign Public Opinion

Journal of Politics, Vol. 71, No. 3, pp. 863-875, July 2009

Posted: 5 Sep 2010 Last revised: 28 Sep 2011

See all articles by Benjamin E. Goldsmith

Benjamin E. Goldsmith

School of Politics & International Relations

Yusaku Horiuchi

Dartmouth College - Department of Government

Date Written: July 1, 2009

Abstract

Global public opinion has emerged as a prominent issue in international relations. But have U.S. public diplomacy efforts during the post-9/11 period successfully improved foreign publics’ appraisals of U.S. foreign policy? We examine this question by estimating the effects of U.S. high-level visits to foreign countries on public opinion in those countries. We base our theoretical arguments on the political communication literature, but extend them to consider transnational dynamics in international relations. Specifically, we argue that U.S. leaders’ credibility in the eyes of foreign publics is critical in shaping attitudes toward U.S. foreign policy. Empirically, we show that the effects of such visits were initially significantly large and positive, but weakened once the war in Iraq began and international media started reporting negative aspects of the ‘‘war on terror.’’ Most interestingly, we find some evidence that high-level visits eventually exhibited a backlash effect.

Keywords: Global Public Opinion, Foreign Public Opinion, Public Diplomacy, U.S. Foreign Policy, Legitimacy, Credibility

JEL Classification: D74

Suggested Citation

Goldsmith, Benjamin E. and Horiuchi, Yusaku, Spinning the Globe? U.S. Public Diplomacy and Foreign Public Opinion (July 1, 2009). Journal of Politics, Vol. 71, No. 3, pp. 863-875, July 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1672062

Benjamin E. Goldsmith

School of Politics & International Relations ( email )

Canberra
Australia

Yusaku Horiuchi (Contact Author)

Dartmouth College - Department of Government ( email )

204 Silsby Hall
HB 6108
Hanover, NH 03755
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.dartmouth.edu/horiuchi/

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