Comparative diplomacy: The impact of the Future Leaders Exchange Program
The U.S. State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) has two overarching legislative goals for exchange programs between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union: development and mutual understanding. These two goals influence the specific goals of ECA sponsored exchanges such as the Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) Program. However, neither goal actually emphasizes the intention of exchanges of making connections to learn about each other. Although mutual understanding implies that both sides of the exchange are learning from the experience, it is a public diplomacy goal, which involves only one side reaching out to the other. For exchanges to be mutually beneficial, the goals of exchange programs, such as FLEX, must include goals for participants on both sides of the exchange. Public diplomacy does not fit this intention. Therefore, a new term, comparative diplomacy, should be used to demonstrate the true double-sided nature of exchange.