Amb. John Kornblum (Former US Ambassador to Germany)

23.07.2010 - Interview conducted by James Hood & Joel MacMillan

Q1. How has the U.S. policy changed recently in terms of embracing cultural diplomacy and soft power?

Everything is changing. Everybody has always been in favour of cultural diplomacy. What is changing is the context: cultural diplomacy used to be about relations between countries, now cultural diplomacy is about inserting cultural values into these global networks which are developing. I think it needs to be thought about in a different context.

Q2. How would you characterise the current and potential future level of funding for American public diplomacy, which maybe was not so strong in the last administration?

The term 'public diplomacy' has always been, to me, a 'cop-out' for not adding values and culture into policy making. We have 'diplomacy', which has a strong cultural and value orientated content: that's what I think will have to be even more the case in the future. The formal governmental relationships and the very rapidly growing private networks are emerging and, to try and define something as 'public' diplomacy is going to be very difficult.

Q3. How would you characterise current E.U.-U.S. relations, in terms of both the Bush and Obama Administrations?

U.S.-European relations don't really exist anymore. In a great era of change, there is a matrix: what is important is not whether you have good relationships between Germany and America or the E.U. and America but rather, that people are meeting the global benchmarks which are being set. That is something which is a big debate at the moment between America and Europe, in terms of what kind of benchmarks one should have.

This  is healthy because it shows we are talking of an internal structure: there is now an extremely integrated network of ties, cooperation and competition between Europe and America, which is going to change even more so as the years go on.

Obama is already a step ahead: he sees the world as a matrix and he doesn't care about talking to the E.U. Foreign Minister. He cares about talking with European countries about issues. And the E.U. Foreign Minister and the Lisbon Treaty are about 10 years behind.