The new situation governing the international system has brought new factors in international structures. The end of the Cold War resulted in paying more attention to economy in international politics, emerging new actors, and gaining importance of non-governmental organizations. The involvement of these new factors caused that the countries adopted new means for ensuring their national interests. One of the most important new means is public diplomacy. To realize the goals of public diplomacy, using soft power is necessary. Using soft power provide the statesmen with ability to influence to improve the international image of their country, to increase international interactions, and to access to more economic opportunities. In fact, public diplomacy is not simply a kind of propaganda or public relations or marketing activity, series of new diplomatic strategies and tactics serving the foreign policy of a rather it consists of a country.

Generally, public diplomacy is defined as planning and implementing instructional, cultural and informational programs for the public opinion in a target country, so that the political leaders of the target country are compelled to support the foreign policy goals of the country carrying out public diplomacy campaigns. In this kind of diplomacy, a great part of audiences are non-governmental persons and institutions dealing with require special skills.

In today’s world, most countries with varying degrees of power are using public diplomacy along with other traditional forms of diplomacy.

It is worth mentioning that soft power as the main instrument of public diplomacy is not restricted to great and influential powers, there are many small powers that paid a great attention to public diplomacy in their foreign policy agenda.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is among those countries that has used its soft power successfully, especially during the early years of the emergence of the Islamic Revolution. The I.R.I managed to attract too many supporters in Islamic countries setting a role model for many liberation movements. On the other hand, the discourse of Islamic Revolution is based on morality and for this reason; it has got an attracting soft power. However, due to the lack of a correct perception of the concepts of public diplomacy and soft power in Iranian academic and decision-making circle, there have been many obstacles and restrictions in using soft power as a necessary means of the advancement of rational purposes.

This research tries to shed a light on the correct concepts of public diplomacy and soft power. It contains three parts:

In the first part which is devoted to the “Theoretical Framework”, concepts related to public diplomacy are discussed. The definitions given for public diplomacy, its importance in the contemporary world as well as related concepts such as soft power and smart power are fully examined.

The second part entitled “Public Diplomacy and the Experiences of Other Countries” studied the experiences of France, the United States and China. This part contains three articles and one interview. The first article, “Barack Hossein Obama (BHA), the Alchemist: Rhetoric Management in 21st century” studies the U.S. public diplomacy in Obama’s era. It argues that the new U.S. president is the designer and executor of a third way approach in U.S. domestic and foreign policies and tries to compose old and new methods of persuasion, consensus-building and coercion to rehabilitate the U.S. image spoiled by Bush’s adventurism in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The next section is an interview with Joseph Nye, during which he discusses “the U.S. Smart Power” with an emphasis on Iran. The theory of smart power formulated by Nye involves the skillful application of soft and hard power to realize the U.S. goals in the 21st century. This approach emphasizes coalition building and cooperating with international institutions to institutionalize the U.S. legitimacy at the global level.

The third article “France’s Public Diplomacy” studies how a middle power such as France can obtain a remarkable influence at the international level; this has been made possible by the unique and special quality of French culture. Of course, France’s influence has faced many challenges. As a result, the French government has adopted protectionist cultural policies. It can be said that globalization which has turned out to be Americanization in many aspects, is considered a major thereat for French identity.

The fourth article, “The Role of Soft Power in China’s Foreign Strategy”, addresses the increasing Chinese Soft power at the global level. In fact, given China’s fast growing economy and its increasing power in the international system, this country has prioritized public diplomacy in its foreign policy strategy.

The third part entitled “Iran and Public Diplomacy” contains two articles and a roundtable.

The first article, “Pathology of Sources and Instruments of the Soft Power of the I.R.I” studies Iran’s ability in using soft power. The author tries to identify Iran’s strengths and weaknesses in this regard. Considering Iran’s capacity in cultural, political, economic, and social realms in any formulation of public diplomacy for Iran would be necessary.

The second article, “Status of Public Diplomacy in Iran: Lessons from Other Countries”, tries to provide some examples of using public diplomacy by other countries. The author believes that Iran has powerful means in the field of public diplomacy, but some obstacles such as the multiplicity of decision making centers have prevented the formulation of effective programs in this regard.

In the last section, there is a report of a roundtable “Iran’s Opportunities in Applying Soft Power”. Issues such as Iran’s capacity for adopting a strategy comprising of applying soft power have been discussed in this roundtable.