Countering Russian Influence through Public Diplomacy

Persistent Competition for Hearts and Minds (Part 1)

United States
public diplomacy
text extraction
novel dataset

Kadir Jun Ayhan


Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Do you want to know where the US has been focusing its public diplomacy efforts?

ACPD is doing a great job, publishing comprehensive reports on public diplomacy expenditure around the world since 2014. ACPD published its 2023 report just today (Dec 19, 2023).

By extracting data from ACPD and State Department pdf reports, I have compiled an extensive and unique dataset of US’ public diplomacy expenditure, the number of local and American public diplomacy staff at diplomatic posts, and diplomatic post expenditures.

To complement this quantitative dataset, I have also extracted the word frequencies of country names through distant-reading. In addition I have done (with the help of RAs) manual theme-coding through close-reading of the reports to better understand the context of countering adversary influence, including mentions of Russia, China, Iran, and terrorism.

The frequency of country names in the reports reveals that, since 2014 (the year Russia annexed Crimea), the focus of US’ public diplomacy has been on countering Russian influence. This focus began to slightly disappear, but since Russia’s occupation of Ukraine in 2022, countering Russia has become almost the only focus. Central Asian and Eastern European countries are mentioned in the reports in the context of countering Russian influence.

It is also interesting that Pakistan and Afghanistan are where the most public diplomacy budget is spent (Iraq is also up there with them), but they are not mentioned in the reports as much. It is more like business as usual there.

European countries are also relatively missing in the reports. Understandably, these countries may have been taken for granted from a public diplomacy standpoint.

Stay tuned for more insights from my dataset, which I will soon make publicly and freely available in my upcoming R package.

Make sure to share with others who might be interested in the data and insights.

The Map of Word Frequency of Country Names in the ACPD Reports (2014-2023)

Figure 1: Total Word Frequency of Country Names (2014-2023)

Total Word Frequency of Country Names (2014-2023): Top 10

Table 1: Total Word Frequency of Country Names (2014-2023): Top 10
Country Average Word Frequency Region
Russia 6.01% Eastern Europe, Baltics & Central Asia
Ukraine 5.54% Eastern Europe, Baltics & Central Asia
China 3.79% Indo-Pacific
Brazil 2.06% Europe & Western Hemisphere
Vietnam 1.77% Indo-Pacific
Pakistan 1.70% Iraq, Afghanistan & Pakistan
Myanmar (Burma) 1.52% Indo-Pacific
North Macedonia 1.52% Eastern Europe, Baltics & Central Asia
Turkey 1.38% MENA
Sudan 1.31% MENA

Tracking the Change over Time in Different Regions

Figure 2: Total Word Frequency of Country Names per Regions (2014-2023)

Tracking the Change over Time in Some Selected Countries

Figure 3: Total Word Frequency of Country Names in Some Selected Countries (2014-2023)

Comparisons between 2014, 2018, and 2023

Figure 4: Total Word Frequency of Country Names: Comparisons between 2014, 2018 and 2023