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Defence diplomacy and public diplomacy are two diplomatic practices often treated in the literature as two disconnected realms. While the former focuses on the peaceful and cooperative use of armed forces, the latter emphasizes on the advancement of strategic communication in the international policy of actors. However, it is possible to bridge the differences between the two using the concept of soft power. By doing so, defence public diplomacy can be understood as a set of practices developed by states seeking to influence and attract third states while employing military force within these parameters. This paper contributes firstly to the conceptual debate bridging both types of diplomacies. Secondly, it selects a case study, Spain, to examine the perceptions of three different Spanish elites involved in the formulation and implementation of defence public policy: politicians, the military and defence industry managers. This paper adopts a qualitative methodology, including in-depth interviews, focus groups with experts, and manual content analysis of primary documentary sources. The results show that these elites agree on the importance of defence diplomacy for the achievement of state goals but continue to understand it fundamentally from a classical diplomatic prism. They also discuss the inclusion of new concepts, such as deterrence, as part of a defence public diplomacy.


Public Diplomacy, Defence Diplomacy, Soft Power, Defence Public Diplomacy, Military, Spain


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Special Issue: Articles: Public diplomacy: Strategic narratives for a changing world